Millennium Hotels and Resorts sheds 159 positions in Singapore as pandemic hits tourism industry

MILLENNIUM Hotels and Resorts (MHR) cut 159 jobs, or about 15 per cent of its Singapore-based workforce, on Wednesday amid weak tourism demand due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

This comes after it reduced the number of foreign workers that it employed over the course of this year, with the number falling by 37 per cent from 520 to 329 foreign employees. With today's lay-offs, 42 more foreign employees were made redundant. This takes its Singapore core from 61 per cent in January to 69 per cent, it added.

"The global pandemic and economic fallout have hit the hotels hard," MHR said in a statement. It highlighted that as at June 30, nearly one-third of its over 145 hotels globally were temporarily closed and those which remained open were operating at depressed occupancies. "This severely impacted MHR’s operations and performance," MHR added. MHR is the global brand of Millennium & Copthorne Hotels, which in turn is a member of the Hong Leong Group.

To achieve a fair outcome for affected employees in the restructuring, MHR management has collaborated with the Food Drinks and Allied Workers Union (FDAWU). Aside from a severance package, post-employment support in consultation with FDAWU, Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) and Workforce Singapore (WSG) will also be offered to the affected employees.

In a separate statement, FDAWU said it secured the retrenchment package for workers collectively represented under the Collective Agreements (CAs) in four unionised hotels out of six of MHR's hotels and one corporate office here. The other two hotels and the office are not unionised.

Eligible workers were given one month of salary per year of service and advance notice/salary in lieu of notice. General secretary of FDAWU, Tan Hock Soon, added: "FDAWU also arranged for job matching assistance, provided by NTUC’s e2i, and training support by NTUC LearningHub and Skillsfuture Singapore for workers who are keen on upskilling. Recognising the benefits of NTUC Union membership, MHR had committed to provide affected workers with an additional 12-month paid union membership and also extended this subsidy to non-union members who would like to sign up."

Since the start of the pandemic, MHR has implemented several measures to contain costs including curbing company spending, salary reductions for senior management of up to 30 per cent and lower pay reductions for other corporate and hotel level employees as well as laying off and furloughing excess manpower across various regions. It said that it planned to use part of the funds from the government's extended Jobs Support Scheme to invest and upskill in its talent as the economy recovers.

John Tan, MHR's vice-president of human resources for South-east Asia, said: “This global pandemic has severely disrupted our lives and businesses in unprecedented ways, and the prolonged movement control order has reshaped our industry. We need to recognise that in this new economy, our business will take time to return to pre-Covid-19 levels. Thus, the rationalisation is unavoidable for our business to remain relevant and viable for our employees and stakeholders.”