I refer to the article “Surbana CEO defends axing ‘poor performers’” (Straits Times, Jan 19).

It states that “”We cannot allow our 1 per cent of poor performers to continue to affect the rest of the 99 per cent of staff who are performing.”

54 poor performers – 0.79% of Singapore staff

Mr Wong in his e-mail said 54 employees were identified as poor performers – representing 0.41 per cent of Surbana Jurong’s global workforce and 0.79 per cent of its Singapore staff.

As to “The firm employs about 3,000 workers here” – 54 divided by 3,000 is 1.8 per cent.

So, is it 0.79 per cent or 1.8 per cent?

Should Straits Times apologise to Surbana?

Since this is the second time in five days that the Straits Times is saying that the company employs about 3,000 workers in Singapore – if the number is incorrect – perhaps the Straits Times should apologise to Surbana Jurong.

Also, since the Straits Times gave the correct number of 13,000 for the company’s global workforce in its article (“Dozens Surbana staff lose their jobs” (Straits Times, Jan 14)) five days ago – it tallies with the 0.41 per cent said by Surbana Jurong now.

Thus, shouldn’t the Straits Times give a clarification as to whether it has gotten the Singapore workforce number wrong twice in a row in five days?

With regard to “Mr Wong added that there were no retrenchments nor was the exercise targeted at any specific business unit, community, discipline or age.

A former employee, who left Surbana Jurong late last year, told The Straits Times: “In my case, I was given two options: To resign or be terminated once they downgrade our last performance appraisal.” He added that the company had put the two options to him without any prior warning, even though he had been meeting performance targets” – the crux of the matter may not so much be about the right of employers to terminate employees with poor performance, but rather whether by not calling terminations a retrenchment, may mean less or no retrenchment benefits.

By the way, what does “A former employee, who left Surbana Jurong late last year” mean? As late as 31 December 2016 which was just two weeks before the first Straits Times report on 14 January 2017?

What is there to prevent other employers who terminate 54 employees at one go, or 1.8 or 0.79 per cent of its workforce as the case may be – and say “there were no retrenchments”?

Perhaps it is not the company’s fault, as it may simply be following what our (weak) labour laws allow.

NTUC, MOM, TAFEP, MPs, Straits Times, media, etc – any comments please?

Leong Sze Hian
A.S.S. Contributor

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