Ong Ye Kung says Govt will place retrenched SIA workers in new jobs or enrol in traineeship programmes; SIA attempted to reassign crew to support other industries

The Government will work with the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and industry partners to place the retrenched workers of Singapore Airlines (SIA) Group in new jobs, transit to other industries, or enrol them in suitable industry attachment and traineeship programmes, said Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung on Thursday (10 Sept).

This came after the SIA Group announced its decision to cut 4,300 positions across its airlines – Singapore Airlines, SilkAir and Scoot – as the aviation industry continues to be hit by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“After taking into account a recruitment freeze, natural attrition and the take-up of voluntary departure schemes, the potential number of staff impacted will be reduced to about 2,400 in Singapore and in overseas stations,” SIA said in a press statement on Thursday.

Following that, Mr Ong took to his Facebook yesterday noting that the Government has rolled out support measures – such as the Jobs Support Scheme – to defray business costs and protect jobs, with the aviation sector receiving the “strongest support”.

“SIA has also raised significant capital with the support of its majority shareholder. They have delayed this workforce reduction as long as they can, but with air travel decimated by COVID-19, this has unfortunately become inevitable,” he wrote.

That said, Mr Ong believes that the workers’ skills would be “much needed elsewhere” and reassured that the Government “will do all we can” to support them.

“We will work with NTUC Singapore and industry partners to place the workers in jobs, help them transit to other industries, or enrol them in suitable industry attachment and traineeship programmes.”

Meanwhile, the Minister stressed that the Government will continue to restore air travel in a safe manner and revive the city-state’s air hub from the COVID-19 fallout.

SIA airlines and Scoot had previously reassigned cabin crew to support other industries

Earlier on, both SIA and Scoot have attempted to reassign their cabin crew members to support other industries following the reduction of flights amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In April, SIA deployed about 300 cabin crew to hospitals across the city-state, taking up manpower gaps due to the influx in COVID-19 cases. A total of 30 crew members were deployed as “care ambassadors” at the Khoo Teck Puat Hospital in Yishun on 7 April.

Besides offering their service in hospitals, some SIA cabin crew have also been moved to public transport hubs to be transport ambassadors.

Scoot, on the other hand, had deployed nearly 400 crew to support other industries in June.

In a joint statement with ams Sensors Singapore – manufacturer of sensor solutions – on 4 June, more than 100 cabin crew have taken on its temporary employment in a duration of at least three months starting in May this year.

“These assignments enable crew, whose flying hours have been greatly reduced due to COVID-19’s impact on the aviation industry, to supplement their income and gain new knowledge and soft skills. They also allow Scoot to retain its front-line talent through this downturn.”

Additionally, the airline’s cabin crew and pilots were also enrolled in a training programme for upskilling and career development as most of its network had been temporarily suspended amid the pandemic.

In fact, about 1,900 of its crew attended a home-based virtual learning course that was hosted in collaboration between the company and NTUC LearningHub.

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