By Martin Gabriel

I usually refrain from speaking about my profession as I have always felt that my professional work and personal conviction should not interfere with one another and should be treated differently. However, this is an occasion which I believe should be made an exception, as it involves the wellbeing of Singaporean workers. This involved workers who were being retrenched and the help extended to them by the government. After much deliberation, I have decided to write on this issue.

In my line of work as a Senior HR Consultant, I assist corporate organisations in their requirements for human resource support. Some weeks ago, I was approached to assist a company in their retrenchment process. Basically they were retrenching PMEs (Professionals, Managers, and Executives).  In the past, I put together my own retrenchment kit, which includes contact numbers of self-help groups and other government agencies for the retrenched worker to approach for help. Through feedback, I discovered that it was not very effective putting together all these not so accurate contacts, as retrenched workers that approached these various self-help groups were pointed in all sorts of directions. The time and effort expanded in visiting such organisations proved fruitless. I was merely compiling contacts which I thought could be helpful. The information I get is publicly available and is being broadcast through the mainstream media and reliable websites.

This time I thought I would try something different. Before the retrenchment exercise took place, I wrote to the Ministry of Manpower and asked them if they had a retrenchment kit. After all, they are part of the government and should be equipped to have all the information. To my surprise, all they said was, there are guidelines to follow in a retrenchment exercise. They were not answering my question and at the same time, preaching to me how a retrenchment exercise should be done. I had no issue with their retrenchment guidelines but I asked again, do you have an official retrenchment kit? I explained that a retrenchment kit would be something that would encompass the contacts of organisations or personnel a retrenched worker could approach for help. Preferably a one-stop service that could provide useful information like writing a proper CV, or how to do well in an Interview. MOM replied, again highlighting that they do not have a retrenchment kit, but this time they CC'd their reply to E2I and the Work Development Agency (WDA). I spoke to both organizations and to my surprise, both organisations admitted that they too had no retrenchment kit or even thought about it.There are free workshops organised by E2I for retrenched workers, an E2I officer told me. 

This is indeed surprising.  How much resource would it take to come up with a basic retrenchment kit? I am certain it would not cost more than the goody bags they give out during National Day. A retrenchment kit is not expensive or complicated to come up with. When an employee is being retrenched, he would be in a depressed state of mind. A retrenchment kit would give him some comfort, knowing that there are places he could go to for help. I urge the authorities, especially MOM, WDA and E2I, to communicate and, please…come up with a retrenchment kit for the sake of our Singaporean workers. Workers should also have a one-stop service where they can get the necessary help in getting back on their feet and ultimately, be gainfully employed once again.