To be fair to SQ
, as a GLC they do face a relatively inconsistent policy framework from the govt. Only a couple of years ago, the govt was urging all companies and placing direct pressure on GLCs not to lay off staff in order to keep unemployment levels relatively low. This meant, for example, that even when profit levels were declining, companies were having to find other ways to reduce staff costs (hence the variable wage component for salaries). The most extreme cases of this were the bank mergers - initial concern that they would cause massive lay-offs came to be misplaced primarily because the govt and the unions worked very hard to prevent large-scale redundancies.
However, the situation has changed quite dramatically and the govt is now worried about the competitive pressures being placed on SG
companies. It is possible to argue that this began with the PSA/PTP
spate which forced the govt to allow the PSA to lay-off a large % of its staff base in order to remain competitive. And once they allowed a few companies to do it, everybody wanted to do it. In fact, now the govt is talking about companies over-reacting and getting rid of too many people - all these articles in the newspapers about the "correct" way to streamline and the "incorrect" way!
DPM Lee has already stressed the importance of SQ
to Singapore. It directly employs approx 1% of the total labour base in Singapore and indirectly contributes significantly more. We all know people who work for SQ
or are in one way or another dependent on the airline. Therefore, to be honest, its survival and well-being is pretty fundamental to Singapore and this is linked to its profitability. Therefore, shedding labour to stay profitable is unpleasant, but ultimately, if SQ
does well, then Singapore does well.
I think the negative point about this entire story, however, is the way in which the management seem to have a complete dis-regard for the unions. ALPA are now asking the SQ
for at least one or two days advance notice of redundancies. Amazing - in most other countries, unions work with the management from the outset of any redundancy process. It does make you wonder what the point of unions in Singapore actually is! But this is of course a recurring issue...
. S_Air is in town! Ah well... maybe we should have an exclusion zone at Suntec and Tanah Merah
To think that I drove past Concorde last night... I could have popped in to see him!