Singapore

Day of roller-coaster emotions for two local RWS employees

This article is more than 12 months old

One S'porean felt he'd be safe from layoff, the other waited in dread for a phone call that would seal his fate

For one Singaporean, a phone call on Monday was the first inkling that something was not right.

For another, it came only at 11am on Wednesday when he received an e-mail from management informing him that some workers were being let go.

As the day unfolded at Resorts World Sentosa (RWS), the pair, who worked in different departments, would go through a gamut of emotions as they learnt about their fates.

RWS said on Wednesday that the retrenchment exercise was a "one-off workplace rationalisation" and it had managed to retain most of its local staff.

It is understood that about 2,000 employees were laid off, but when asked, RWS did not want to confirm any figure.

The two Singaporeans agreed to speak to The New Paper yesterday about their roller-coaster day on condition of anonymity.

The first employee, who is in his mid-30s and worked in guest services at the Universal Studios Singapore (USS) theme park, said the rumours started flying on Monday after he and his colleagues received a call instructing them to attend a "town hall meeting" on Wednesday.

"Some said they heard it would be a reassignment, others heard there would be an announcement on retrenchment. We all knew something bad was coming," he said.

Even then, he felt he would be safe because he had volunteered to serve at the Singapore Expo community care facility for Covid-19 patients, where RWS is a managing agent.

But when his RWS e-mail account was deactivated at 7am on Wednesday, he had a sinking feeling and knew "more or less" his fate even before the town hall session.

When his fears became reality, he said he was shocked, disappointed and overwhelmed by a sense of betrayal. "I kept thinking, why me? Over eight years of service was summed up in 15 minutes of debriefing," he said.

"My main concern is how to move on from here, since every other tourism or hospitality entity in Singapore is facing the same issues."

The other Singaporean, 28, who works in technical services at USS, said he and his colleagues were in the dark about the retrenchment exercise as they had not been told to attend a meeting on Wednesday.

So the retrenchment e-mail at 11am came as a bombshell to them.

The RWS employee of nearly three years said: "Following the e-mail, some of my colleagues received phone calls, one by one, telling them to pack their bags and go for a meeting.

"My mind went blank when I heard about the calls. I wondered if I would be next."

The call never came, and it was a huge relief as he supports his retired parents who are in their 60s. Even so, he said he was overcome by a sense of injustice for some of his retrenched colleagues.

He said: "What upset me the most was that some experienced, hardworking Singaporeans were let go."

About 25 per cent of his 120-strong department got the axe, he added.

The RWS retrenchment exercise has had a ripple effect by making some employees in other Sentosa attractions worry about their jobs.

One of them, an operations assistant, 24, said she was especially concerned as some employees of Skyline Luge Sentosa, bungee jump attraction AJ Hackett, and Sentosa's Mega Adventure Park had also been retrenched or put on no-pay leave.

Replying to TNP's queries, a spokesman for Sentosa Development Corporation said it has no plans for a retrenchment exercise and is supporting its tenants by offering rental support and operational assistance.

Mr Benjamin Cassim, manager in diploma in hospitality and tourism management at Temasek Polytechnic, said he expects to see more retrenchment in the tourism and hospitality industry until at least the end of the year.

"When the number of guests makes up 3 to 4 per cent of your normal business, you cannot maintain the same workforce size," he said.

Noting that the resumption of essential business could be a bellwether, he said. "If it's successful and doesn't lead to a spike in the number of cases, then we can start to allow leisure visitation."

coronavirus