By now, everyone would have heard of the Robinsons closure. The news came as a shock to many, as the 162-year-old establishment holds fond memories for Singaporeans and staff alike. After the news broke, snaking queues formed, with customers rushing to use up their vouchers.
Singaporeans just love to queue, don’t you agree?
Nevertheless, the situation is worrying for the Robinsons staff. Not only have they lost their jobs overnight, they may not receive their wages from liquidators.
Under the law, secured creditors are paid first, followed by preferred creditors and finally unsecured creditors. In addition, outstanding salary claims are ranked second in the list of preferred creditors, subject to a cap of five months’ salary or S$12,500 (whichever is less). Unfortunately, not all workers get paid for their outstanding salaries.
So, how can we help the Robinsons staff?
Since 2017, NTUC’s assistant secretary-general Patrick Tay has been campaigning for a revision of the Employment Act. Patrick, who is also MP of Pioneer SMC, has been lobbying for the payment of salary to be prioritised.
During uncertain times when businesses are winding up with a little warning, the Government can do more to safeguard workers. It would be timely if the Government could review the Employment Act now, as MP Patrick Tay has suggested.
What are the unions doing?
The Singapore Manual & Mercantile Workers’ Union (SMMWU), which represents unionised workers in the retail sector, is working closely with NTUC and e2i to ensure that retrenched workers can quickly find their next job.
e2i serves like an A&E unit, as they quickly meet with retrenched staff to assess them and mete out relevant advice. e2i career coaches provide career counselling which includes resume review and interview preparation. They will equip retrenched Robinson staff with the necessary skills and preparation before matching them with potential employers and industries.
We wish the 175 Robinsons staff the best of luck in finding their next job!