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NTUC proposes framework on responsible retrenchment practices

NATIONAL Trades Union Congress (NTUC) is proposing the Fair Retrenchment Framework (FRF) to further guide companies on responsible retrenchment practices, amid an uncertain economic outlook.

The FRF will complement existing tripartite advisory and guidelines on managing excess manpower and responsible retrenchment, NTUC said on Friday.

The framework will have three guiding principles. The first is for companies to implement fair selection criteria to ensure the "Singaporean Core" is safeguarded - with locals keeping their jobs in terms of job protection and redeployment - while also giving due consideration to foreign workers.

The second is preserving jobs, with retrenchments being the last resort for companies, NTUC reiterated. Before considering layoffs, companies should, as an early intervention strategy, work with unions and workers to find ways to preserve as many jobs as possible and minimise downtime.

This is to ensure companies have the manpower capacity to seize business opportunities when the economy recovers.

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Some measures to preserve jobs include implementing collective pay reductions, providing secondment opportunities, placing workers on a shorter work week, no-pay leave or furlough. 

The third FRF principle is providing job support. If retrenchments are inevitable, NTUC is urging companies to provide fair retrenchment packages and processes. They should also get on board the NTUC Job Security Council to provide the necessary support to workers who may be or are affected by the layoffs.

NTUC is calling on companies to ensure openness, transparency and consultation with its unions and workers, as well as observe to the FRF to protect workers’ rights and ensure fair treatment for those affected by retrenchments.

NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng wrote in a Facebook post on Friday: "In NTUC, we will do our best to help you save your job, and match you to a job if you have lost yours – you don’t give up, we won’t give up." 

He urged all companies to work with NTUC and its unions early so workers can get the best help possible in these challenging times.

In its statement on Friday, NTUC reiterated its call for companies and unions to work together to support NTUC's Job Strategy, to support job preservation by accepting cost-cutting measures, to tap government assistance schemes to ease cash flow and manage costs and to match workers to jobs by assisting their transit to sectors requiring manpower.

NTUC is advocating the formation of company training committees (CTC) to be accelerated. Mid-career conversations should identify potential job displacements and take a pre-emptive approach with companies to reskill at-risk workers.

Leveraging CTCs can create, redesign and reclaim jobs, help businesses find new opportunities by reviewing their business strategies, policies and operations, and by tapping government schemes to redesign jobs for workers.

Workers can also be trained for future business needs through the CTC.

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