SINGAPORE: HGST, a US-headquartered global company that specialises in data storage, has retrenched 531 workers from its Singapore facility.
This is the largest retrenchment exercise for HGST's Singapore facility in the last 20 years.
HGST's Singapore facility manufactures high-end hard drives.
The company says it is relocating one of its production lines to Thailand, citing rising operating costs in Singapore. About half of the production line has already moved to Thailand, and the move will be completed in six months' time.
Most of those retrenched are production operators, and about half are Singaporeans. Some have been working for less than a year, but others have been with the company for up to 19 years.
About 1,840 workers still remain in the Singapore office - many of them are engineers and support staff.
HGST said the retrenchment exercise is part of its long-term plan to re-position the Singapore facility from a mass volume manufacturing site to an engineering centre, overseeing factories in Thailand and China.
This was decided about three years ago, and employees were informed in November.
HGST said that most of its competitors, like Seagate, have already relocated their manufacturing facilities out of Singapore.
Heng Chee How, executive secretary of the United Workers of Electrical and Electrical Industries (UWEEI), oversaw the retrenchment exercise on Friday morning.
HGST said workers will be receiving compensation packages pegged to industry standards.
Mr Heng said UWEEI is saddened by this retrenchment exercise but understood that the company faces keen challenges to maintain cost competitiveness.
He said HGST has committed to UWEEI to ensure fair compensation and treatment for the affected employees.
Mr Heng added that HGST will extend hospitalisation and surgical insurance coverage in Singapore till March 2014 and pay union membership dues for three months till March 2014 so that the workers will continue to receive benefits.
UWEEI and the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) will be organising a targeted job fair on 16 January 2014 at the institute for the affected workers. About 500 jobs will be on offer.
UWEEI said it will work closely with HGST to ensure that the affected workers are treated fairly and will try its best to render all possible assistance, and help train and place the affected employees in new jobs. - CNA/xq
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