At least 130 Singapore Press Holdings staff have been dismissed

Staff, among them reporters and sales executives, were told to leave the premises by 6pm on Thursday (October 12).

Media group Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) laid off some 130 employees on Thursday (October 12), a day after it announced its annual financial results and that 230 jobs would be slashed before the year is up.

On Wednesday, the organisation revealed that some 200 newsroom and sales staff would be affected, representing 15% of the headcount from those departments.

The headcount reduction has reportedly come much earlier than was originally planned. SPH had announced last October that 10% of its workforce would be cut by 2018.

Reporters, photographers, sub-editors and sales executives from The Straits Times, The Business Times and Chinese newspaper Lianhe Zaobao were among those let go. At least 20 were from The Straits Times, and 15 from The Business Times.

A majority of those retrenched will be given one month’s salary for each year of service, up to a maximum of 25 years. They will also receive pay in lieu of the agreed notice period. 

The remaining job cuts will be carried out via contract terminations and retirements. 

Training grants, career counselling and job placement services with the NTUC's Employment and Employability Institute will be provided to affected individuals, said a company spokesperson. 

The news was made known to staff at the start of the day at a two-hour town hall meeting held at SPH’s News Centre in Toa Payoh North.

“We have decided as a leadership team, rather than drag this process over two years, let’s get it done…Chang tong bu ru duan tong (let’s not prolong the pain). Get this unpleasantness behind us and hopefully, we won’t have to touch this topic again for a long time,” said CEO Ng Yat Chung.

Company sources told Yahoo News Singapore that the process was carried out hastily. Some employees, who had come in to work only on Thursday afternoon, discovered their work emails had been disabled. They were later told to pack up their belongings and leave the grounds by 6pm.

According to the website, Chinese newspapers Lianhe Zaobao and Lianhe Wanbao are set to merge their newsrooms. Both titles, however, will remain in print.

The New Paper’s sports section is likely to join up with that of The Straits Times.

The restructuring comes on the back of falling earnings. Group operating revenue dropped 8.2% year-on-year, while advertising revenue recorded a sharp decline year-on-year, dropping S$103 million, or 16.9%, in FY 2017.

Still, some employees, who have been spared this round, said they did not see the layoffs coming, but are worried they would be next on the chopping block.  

“There’s a lot of uncertainty and worry in my newsroom. Nobody knows who is going to get the chop. There are rumours going around, but nothing concrete. I think I should be okay for now, but the steady decline in advertising revenue is very worrying. Who knows if the company can turn things around?,” one journalist told Yahoo

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