Aviation firm Pratt & Whitney axes nearly 400 in Singapore

Pratt & Whitney’s emblem hangs outside the office of Eagle Services Asia in Singapore. Image: Google
Pratt & Whitney’s emblem hangs outside the office of Eagle Services Asia in Singapore. Image: Google

Aviation firm Pratt & Whitney revealed today that it has axed nearly 400 workers in Singapore as it continues to suffer from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The company, a major stakeholder in its Eagle Services Asia venture with SIA Engineering, revealed the layoffs after being in the spotlight last week for controversially letting dozens go without notice amid ongoing negotiations, causing the National Trades Union Congress to step in. 

The U.S. aircraft engine maker has shaved its 2,000-strong workforce by nearly 20%. It also noted retaining a largely Singaporean workforce, with 77% of its remaining employees comprised of Singaporeans.

“SISEU and the Pratt & Whitney companies are committed to ensure that due process is observed and affected employees are accorded fair treatment and compensation packages,” a joint statement issued with the Singapore Industrial and Services Employees’ Union, SISEU, read. 

The firm said it did not expect to recover to pre-COVID levels until 2023 at the earliest.

“The prolonged recovery timeline for commercial aviation forced this difficult but necessary decision by Pratt & Whitney companies, after implementing other cost-containment measures including temporary salary reductions and shorter work weeks, cancellation of merit increases, hiring freezes and discretionary spending cuts,” it added. 

Affected employees are also expected to receive one-time training grants to help them upgrade their skills, the firm said. 

Last week, upon concluding negotiations with Eagle Services Asia, the unions said that those retrenched would also receive a month’s severance pay for each year worked, capped at 25 months.

Eagle Services Asia was earlier criticized for its lack of transparency in releasing dozens of workers while negotiations and the list of retrenched workers were yet to be finalized. 

Pratt & Whitney, which operates seven businesses in Singapore, said today it had notified the unions of today’s retrenchment exercise in advance. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged the aviation sector despite Singapore setting aside over S$100 million (about US$140 million) to help tide companies over during the outbreak. National carrier Singapore Airlines last week announced it would cut the salaries of all staff by at least 10%.

 

Related:

Eagle Services Asia workers on their ‘rollercoaster’ week of surprise layoff

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