About 140 staff members of Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) for media sales division and magazines will be laid off, as part of the firm’s restructuring efforts amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
SPH stated on Tuesday (18 Aug) that the retrenchments will affect about 5 per cent of its overall media group’s headcounts, and will incur retrenchment costs about S$8 million.
“Affected staff will receive compensation on terms negotiated and agreed with the union. SPH has also been working closely with the union and e2i to ensure that affected staff receive the help and support they require during this period,” it said.
This marks the third round of retrenchment exercise made by SPH in three years. In October 2017, it retrenched 130 employees. While in October last year, the company laid off 5 per cent of its staff as part of its restructuring effort, despite earning a profit of S$213.2 million for the financial year which ended in August last year.
SPH’s CEO Ng Yat Chung said yesterday that subscriptions and readership of its news titles have increased since the onset of COVID-19, but the economic downturn has “significantly impacted” the firm’s advertising revenue.
“A more integrated approach of producing and selling our content across our various platforms will allow us to deal more efficiently and effectively with the new level of demand we are seeing from our advertisers and audience,” noted Mr Ng.
Additionally, the company has exited its magazine business in Malaysia and ceased the publication of Cleo and Young Parents magazines.
SPH added that the Ministry of Manpower, the Creative Media and Publishing Union (CMPU), and the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) have also been informed of the restructuring exercise.
President of CMPU David Teo said that the union was notified by SPH’s management in advance of the restructuring exercise, indicating that “retrenchments may be inevitable” due to the economic uncertainties brought by the pandemic and companies’ restructuring efforts to streamline operations.
Meanwhile, SPH’s shares closed down 0.89 per cent at $1.11 yesterday before the announcement was made.
Previously in March, the firm announced that its board members will take a voluntary 10 per cent reduction in directors’ fees and 5 per cent pay cut for the senior management staff.