The rumors and reports of Uber selling off its Southeast Asia operations to Grab were finally verified this morning. Ending the long battle between the two ride-hailing firms, Uber will make its exit from the region in the upcoming months, and current users will have just two weeks left to book rides with the app.
But while the news didn’t come as a shock, the way that Uber employees in Singapore claim they were unceremoniously sent packing this morning kind of did. Various posts on social media by former Uber staffers alleged that employees were given just hours to pack up their things and exit the premises, located at Mapletree Anson, an assertion later denied by Uber.
An affected employee who went on record with TODAY claimed that the company broke the news to employees in a meeting room before being told to pack up and leave the office by 12.30pm. No information was given about severance packages — they were even told that they were free to apply for other jobs, said the former Uber telesales specialist.
“After the meeting, everyone was left speechless. Some people were in tears. I was devastated and I felt very lost. All of a sudden I was out of a job,” he said.
If that’s indeed true, it raises legitimate questions about the failure of Uber’s Asia headquarters in Singapore to warn its employees of the coming moves or at least give them more time for news of the alleged retrenchments to sink in.
According to a report in Mumbrella Asia, however, Grab has assured all Uber employees involved in its Southeast Asia operations that they will be offered employment in the newly merged company — though the positions won’t materialize immediately.
“All Uber employees in its SEA operations will receive offers to join Grab,” a Grab spokeswoman told Mumbrella. “As they will no longer have access to Uber’s systems and network, they will be on gardening leave until Grab has found a role and has onboarded them.”
That seemed to be backed up by Linkedin post by Grab CEO and co-founder Anthony Tan, who seemed eager to assure Uber employees they’d still have a place in the newly merged company.
“To the former Uber Southeast Asia team – let me be the first to wish you a huge and warm welcome to Grab! It is our great honor and privilege to welcome such a talented and passionate group of people into our midst, and I am extremely excited about the opportunity to meet with, work with, and learn from all of you in the coming days and weeks,” he wrote.
He then assured that Grab’s HR team will be working closely with their Uber counterparts to ensure a smooth transition.
“We know that this might be an emotional and trying time for you, but rest assured that our team will be working closely with the Uber HR team to help make this transition as smooth as possible for you.”
‘No Uber employee lost their jobs today’
This evening, Uber reacted to the social media posts by refuting the claims made about the two-hour window. According to a company statement provided to Coconuts Singapore, employees across their Southeast Asian offices were actually given the day to process the news, among other additional assistance.
“Employees across all Southeast Asian locations were given the full day to process the news, attend detailed information sessions with HR and representatives of their global teams, in addition to being provided with onsite counselling,” the statement reads.
“No Uber employee lost their jobs today, and both companies are committed to putting their people first as part of this transition.”
We’ve reached out to former Uber employees to get their side of the story.
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to reflect statements from Uber and Grab CEO Anthony Tan, as well as additional comments from an affected employee.