NTUC ‘deeply disappointed’ over Lazada layoffs, says union was not consulted

SINGAPORE – The National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and the union representing Lazada workers have expressed “deep disappointment” over the e-commerce firm’s recent retrenchment exercise.

NTUC noted in a statement on Jan 5 that Lazada initiated the layoffs without prior consultation with the Food, Drinks and Allied Workers Union (FDAWU) despite the fact that the Singapore-headquartered firm is unionised under FDAWU.

It added that FDAWU has contacted Lazada to express its disappointment, and the matter has been escalated to the Ministry of Manpower.

It said: “NTUC would like to reiterate that it is critical for companies to work with their union to ensure that a fair and equitable process is carried out to safeguard the interests of all workers, especially our Singaporean core.

“Companies must exhaust all other options before making the call to retrench employees. (NTUC) also appeals to companies to be considerate about the timing of such exercises and to avoid doing such exercises during festive periods, as far as possible.”

On Jan 3, Lazada laid off an undisclosed number of its Singapore staff.

A Lazada spokesperson had said in response to queries from The Straits Times: “We are making proactive adjustments to transform our workforce, to better position ourselves for a more agile, streamlined way of working to meet future business needs.”

The spokesperson had declined to disclose how many workers in Singapore or South-east Asia were affected and whether staff had received a severance package, only saying: “This transformation necessitates that we reassess our workforce requirements and operational structure to ensure Lazada is better positioned to future-proof our business and people.”

ST understands that a round of layoffs was also conducted in October 2023.

Lazada became a subsidiary of Alibaba Group Holding after the Chinese tech titan acquired a stake in it in 2016 to expand its presence in South-east Asia.

Following Alibaba’s split into six main business units in March 2023, reportedly to unlock shareholder value and jump-start growth, Lazada now operates under Alibaba International Digital Commerce (AIDC), which also includes e-commerce platforms Daraz and Trendyol, as well as online store AliExpress.

The latest job cuts come amid speculation regarding AIDC’s potential initial public offering in the United States in 2024, first reported in May 2023.

NTUC said its Employment and Employability Institute will help FDAWU with the search for new job opportunities for the retrenched staff.

Affected union members and employees can contact FDAWU on 6737-6088 during working hours or send an e-mail to fdawu@ntuc.org.sg for assistance.

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