We must protect our Core
It is worrying that many corporations and GLCs in Singapore have to take the painful yet inevitable step of retrenchment to mitigate the serious impact on their business brought about by the devastating Covid situation. As a result a large number of PMETs are unfortunately affected by this catastrophic economic downturn. Companies face intense pressure and have to ensure that any retrenchment implemented is fair and equitable, and at the same time achieve the objective of staying viable through the crisis.
What constitutes the Singapore core or locals is an important consideration when hiring and firing. In the context of fairness there have been suggestions of late that we ought to protect the Singapore core because of growing unemployment of our PMETs. By Singapore core, we mean Singapore citizens. There is however ambiguity with the term ‘locals’ when PRs are bracketed together with citizens, in the recent data on PMETs revealed by the government.
We must be very clear that ‘locals’ and ‘core’ refer to Singapore citizens. So in principle, if given a choice between a citizen and a non-citizen worker, the default should be for the Singapore citizen to keep the job, all things being equal. Understandably, this is not an easy policy to implement. But we are in crisis mode and tough decisions have to be made to preserve our core. Every precious job available for Singaporeans should not be taken away by a foreigner without strong justification especially in the case of GLCs.
MOM has to make a concerted effort during this time to scrutinise and prevent companies from acting against the interests of our people. This is not about protectionism but taking the right approach to bolster our local workforce when jobs are fast disappearing.
It is intuitive to keep our core employed as it is not only a short-term necessity but a long-term imperative, so as not to have our key skills hollowed out. When the crisis blows over – and this can be a prolonged crisis – we will need this core of local PMETs to help rebuild our economy. They are also our future!
Creating meaningful jobs for our locals is a huge challenge in an economic crisis. Protecting Singaporeans’ jobs when companies downsize however is a less onerous task for the government. It is a matter of implementing effective policies.
The government has recognized the need to incentivize companies to hire locals and create new jobs for the increasing unemployed. Efforts in this direction must be seen to be deliberate and decisive, especially when there are more retrenchments to come. Only then will core Singaporeans feel that the government is truly behind them and have their priority and interests at heart.
Singaporeans Deserve Better!