Bracing workers, businesses for the downturn as Covid-19 takes its toll


The release of Singapore's second-quarter estimates painted a grim picture. Insight looks at what the coming months might hold for workers, businesses and the economy.

Worries over jobs and livelihoods


Most of the layoffs have been in the hardest-hit sectors such as services, accommodation and food, and construction, but previously healthy sectors are suffering too.

Just last week, Singapore Airlines made further wage cuts and offered its cabin crew early release or retirement, on top of a 10 per cent cut in basic salary for all staff last month, and early retirement for ground staff and pilots.

The International Air Transport Association, which represents about 290 airlines comprising 82 per cent of global air traffic, has said it expects air traffic to return to pre-crisis levels only in 2024.


Ex-nurse has finger on pulse of F&B challenges

As a catering firm manager, former nurse Norefa Riffin has gone from having no industry experience to overseeing inventory, finances and menu planning, even manning the stove herself. ST PHOTO: SHINTARO TAY

Since joining the food and beverage industry 14 months ago after she left the nursing profession, Ms Norefa Riffin has gone from having zero experience in the field to overseeing inventory, finances and menu planning, even manning the stove herself.

The manager of catering firm says that working in this sector - among those badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic - has shown her how both businesses and workers alike need to be able to adjust quickly to challenges.

The company, which provides a mix of Western and Asian cuisines, has moved from operating a cafeteria stall and managing events catering to a delivery-only business out of a central kitchen in Pandan Crescent.


In a changed world, companies need to change


With the circuit breaker in place from April to June, almost all sectors of the economy shrank.

Construction was hit the hardest, contracting by almost 60 per cent.

Movement restrictions on foreign workers and a pause on building projects meant that the sector was brought to a virtual standstill.


Engineering company looks to new industries

A computer numerical control machinist at Coway Engineering & Marketing inspecting a part produced by the company. The precision engineering firm has had to diversify beyond the aerospace and oil and gas sectors for business since the coronavirus pandemic struck. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Most of the business done by precision engineering company Coway Engineering & Marketing was in the aerospace and oil and gas industries - sectors hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and global economic slowdown.

So it has had to diversify its business model and look to other industries for growth.

Managing director Lien Whai Cheng says that demand from the aerospace and oil and gas sectors has fallen by half, and the company expects a 25 per cent drop in revenue for the year.


Save for future or spend on needs of Singaporeans today?

Some have argued that because previous generations saved and built up the reserves, future generations must be responsible stewards of these reserves. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

The second-quarter figures released by the Ministry of Trade and Industry last week painted a bleak picture.

In the second quarter, the economy contracted by 13.2 per cent year on year - the worst quarterly contraction on record.

Gross domestic product (GDP) shrank by 6.7 per cent in the first half of this year, and is expected to contract by 5 per cent and 7 per cent for the full year.


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