Shopee assures union in S'pore that workers impacted by job cuts will be compensated

Shopee has over 48,000 employees worldwide. PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - Employees of online shopping platform Shopee affected by recent layoffs will be compensated, the Creative Media and Publishing Union (CMPU) said on Wednesday (June 15).

The union, which is affiliated with labour movement National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), spoke to the South-east Asian e-commerce giant after it announced job cuts in an internal memo.

According to professional networking platform LinkedIn, Shopee has more than 48,000 employees worldwide.

The Straits Times has reached out to the shopping platform on its staff strength in Singapore, the number of employees affected by the cuts, and whether the CMPU statement means staff here were laid off.

The cuts impact workers in its ShopeeFood and ShopeePay teams in the region.

CMPU, which represents e-commerce employees in Singapore, said Shopee had assured the union that affected employees would be given the appropriate compensation package in line with market norms.

The union said it will help laid-off employees find work.

They will also have access to career coaching and job matching services offered by the Employment and Employability Institute and NTUC's network of professional associations and partners.

"CMPU will also continue to work closely with Shopee to ensure that employees' interests and welfare are taken care of as much as possible," said the union.

Shopee chief executive Chris Feng had detailed the layoffs and other changes to its business in an internal memo on Monday night that was circulated widely.

The memo, which was seen by ST, revealed that Shopee would let go of members of its teams in Mexico, Argentina and Chile, as well as a cross-border team supporting the market in Spain.

Shopee will also end its early-stage pilot in Spain, Mr Feng said in the memo.

It previously withdrew from forays into the Indian and French markets in March.

As for the cuts, Mr Feng did not specify which South-east Asian countries would be affected.

Shopee has outposts in Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines, while its regional headquarters is based in Singapore.

Mr Feng said the company will do its best to support affected workers.

The layoffs come even as Shopee narrowed its losses in the first quarter of this year compared with the previous quarter, and its owner Sea saw higher-than-expected revenue of US$2.9 billion (S$4 billion).

Mr Adrian Tan, a human resources consultant and spokesman for the Singapore Human Resources Institute, a professional body for HR professionals, said flagging investor confidence could have driven the layoffs.

“We are seeing a steep drop in money floating around and venture funding has dried up significantly.”

On tech firms with large headcounts like Shopee, Mr Tan said: “Where they were, was really more of luxury than a need.”

He added that although those who were laid off were likely to attract a premium for working in a competitive firm that is a household name, whether they can readily find a new job depends on how niche their role in Shopee was, and whether the rest of the sector is also facing similar headwinds.

He said: “Someone in HR, for example, could work in any other firm.

“But if their role was very specific to the e-commerce space – like helping to send out app notifications for promotions – and the entire sector (is struggling), then (prospects) might be quite worrying for that specific function.”

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