Help for retrenched local RWS staff

Resorts World Sentosa looking devoid of crowds at 2.45pm yesterday. Experts say the move by Resorts World Sentosa to retrench staff is not surprising, given that tourism in Singapore has come to a standstill amid travel restrictions aimed at curbing
Resorts World Sentosa looking devoid of crowds at 2.45pm yesterday. Experts say the move by Resorts World Sentosa to retrench staff is not surprising, given that tourism in Singapore has come to a standstill amid travel restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus, leading to manpower levels at the integrated resort being unsustainable.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

Resort working with a task force to match Singaporeans, PRs with suitable jobs

Local workers who were retrenched by integrated resort operator Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) will each have at least two to three job opportunities to consider.

RWS said at the announcement of the retrenchment exercise yesterday that it has worked with a multi-agency task force, which includes the Attractions, Resorts and Entertainment Union (AREU) and the National Trades Union Congress' Employment and Employability Institute (e2i), to identify and match job openings to affected Singaporeans and permanent residents based on their skills and experience.

RWS said: "We fully understand the difficulty and anxiety this means to impacted team members and their families. We stand in solidarity with the Singapore Government in identifying all possible opportunities to help them transition smoothly to new careers."

It added that it has worked with the AREU to ensure the vast majority of its local staff have been retained during the "workforce rationalisation" exercise.

Retained staff will be trained to drive growth in its RWS2.0 transformation.

RWS 2.0 was announced in April last year as a $4.5 billion project to revolutionise visitor experience at the integrated resort. It will add more than 164,000 sq m of gross floor area, with new facilities including a waterfront complex housing two hotels, retail establishments and additions to Universal Studios Singapore (USS).

RWS said: "We will redesign jobs across the resort with technological innovation enhancing day-to-day processes, increase productivity and create jobs with better remuneration prospects.

"RWS will also build up a passionate and entrepreneurial talent pool with a stronger Singaporean core forming three-quarters of the workforce."

Examples of new jobs include roles in predictive analytics, environmental services and entertainment support for new zones in USS.

Training will be supported by the RWS Academy, which will work with Workforce Singapore and SkillsFuture Singapore to upgrade worker skills.

Last known estimates of RWS' workforce indicate that the company had around 7,000 staff members at the end of last year.

 
 
 

It is understood that about 2,000 employees were laid off. RWS declined to provide the number of workers it had retrenched and did not want to confirm any figure.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said the Taskforce for Responsible Retrenchment and Employment Facilitation was aware of RWS' organisational changes and is working with AREU to help affected employees.

The task force is made up of representatives from Workforce Singapore, MOM, NTUC and e2i.

AREU and e2i said in a joint statement that they were given advance notice of RWS' retrenchment plans. They said RWS had decided on the exercise as a last resort. They also noted that RWS has fulfilled its obligations and helped workers in the past few months.

E2i added that it has invited employers from various industries to hold physical job fairs at e2i under the SGUnited Jobs initiative.

Labour chief Ng Chee Meng, who visited RWS yesterday morning to speak with retrenched workers, said NTUC will continue to engage RWS on its recovery plans and transformation journey.

"We urge other employers to also tap NTUC's Job Security Council to assist workers to transit to new employment quickly," he added.

 
 

Experts said the retrenchment was not surprising, given that tourism has stopped in Singapore due to travel restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19.

Associate Professor Walter Theseira, an economist from the Singapore University of Social Sciences, said: "The integrated resorts are sized for external demand... and were never designed solely for domestic demand. Since external demand has been shut off due to Covid-19, their existing levels of manpower are just not sustainable."

He added that more firms in the tourism industry are likely to retrench workers in the coming months as there is no clear timeline yet for borders to reopen to mass tourism.

Ngee Ann Polytechnic's senior lecturer in tourism Michael Chiam said: "It will take a while for the tourism industry to recover, most probably in 2021. Most tourist establishments will offer more creative products, such as more customised products for smaller groups of guests, given the new normal and the need for safe management."

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 16, 2020, with the headline 'Help for retrenched local RWS staff'. Print Edition | Subscribe