Photo of Temasek Holdings from Business Times

Temasek Holdings-owned infrastructural consultant company Surbana Jurong went into retrenchment last Satruday (Jan 14) and fired 50 employees. The retrenchment exercise is the first indication that the sovereign wealth fund company managing Singaporeans’ CPF money could be running in deep losses that led to the first ever retrenchment exercise.

Surbana Jurong however denied that the dismissal of its 50 employees is a retrenchment, and instead accuse the 50 employees of “poor performance”:

“We categorically state that there was no retrenchment. In line with the company’s continuous focus on being a high-performance-driven organisation, about 50 poor performers were released.”

Surbana hires about 13,000 around the world and it is not known whether similar retrenchment or “poor performance firing” exercise took place.

According to retrenched workers the media spoke to, the numbers is more than 50 and that the department heads were earlier asked by the company’s human resource department to shortlist staffs to “release”. According to a former senior employee of Surbana, more than 200 were in the list including employees from Surbana’s China and India office. Former employees of Surbana also revealed that they were terminated on the spot without any notification.

Former employees are angry at Surbana for claiming that their termination was due to “poor performance”, as prospective employers will view them negatively and diminish their chances of getting hiring.

The Ministry of Manpower confirmed that they are looking into the “termination of employment” issue at Surbana. The government’s trade union NTUC has spoken to the Surbana management but resignedly admitted that they cannot do anything.