Singtel announces wage freeze after “worrying start to the year”

When implemented later this year, the company-wide wage freeze will affect all employees, except for operational and support staff.
By: | March 10, 2020

Driven by sluggish growth and the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, Singapore telco Singtel has announced a company-wide wage freeze. When implemented, this will affect all employees, except for operational and support staff.

In a note to employees, Singtel Group chief executive Chua Sock Koong said the company needed to brace itself for uncertainty because of the coronavirus outbreak and the weak business sentiment. “It’s been a worrying start to the year. As we announced our third-quarter results, the COVID-19 threat emerged, disrupting not just lives but in many cases, livelihoods.”

Singtel posted a 23.8% slide in profits to SGD$672.2 million in the third quarter of 2019, with Chua noting, “The business and structural challenges we are already facing will be further aggravated by weak sentiment and economies made more sluggish by the virus threat.”

“During this period, we need to strengthen our financial resilience and take out more costs. Times like these require us to tighten our belts, both as a company and as workers, to ensure the long-term competitiveness of our business.”

Chua and Singtel’s management committee will also each contribute at least half a month’s salary to the Singtel Touching Lives Fund, while top management has been “strongly urged” to make voluntary contributions of a quarter’s month’s pay.

Encouraging staff to give as well, Chua added that Singtel will match staff contributions dollar-to-dollar before directing the donations to the Community Chest’s Courage Fund and other beneficiaries working to contain the fall-out from the COVID-19 outbreak.

Singtel’s announcement adds to a growing list of Singapore companies that have pushed to implement wage freezes. Last month, property developer CapitaLand announced that board members and senior management will take a reduction in their fees and base salaries ranging from 5-15%. Similar moves were also announced by Temasek Holdings, Singapore’s investment arm, and Singapore Airlines, Singapore’s national carrier.