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    Jan 16, 2015

    Manufacturing jobs most at risk: NTUC

    WORKERS in manufacturing are most at risk of losing their jobs because the sector is gradually hollowing out, the labour movement has warned.

    Two in three of the 2,212 workers who were retrenched from unionised companies last year were from this sector, the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) said yesterday.

    And the year has barely started but three manufacturing firms have already told NTUC that they will be laying off 300 workers in the next two months.

    To add to the grim outlook, NTUC hinted that wage and bonus growth may also slow in other sectors, in line with the slowdown of Singapore's economic growth.

    "Wages might stagnate if firms do not increase their productivity," said NTUC assistant secretary-general Cham Hui Fong in an annual press briefing on its outlook yesterday.

    Bonuses and wage increases shrank last year. Some 400 unionised firms gave workers an average of three months' bonus and 4.1 per cent salary increase, down from 3.16 months' bonus and 4.63 per cent salary increase in 2013.

    But it is manufacturing, which hires 540,000 workers or about 15 per cent of the labour force here, where the outlook is the bleakest.

    Eight firms, which were not named, shut down their manufacturing operations last year and moved to Malaysia, China and Thailand.

    "They choose Thailand instead of Singapore because of the abundance of workers, even though they may not have considered political stability and other factors," said Ms Cham.

    Rising costs, manpower shortage and restructuring are reasons why companies are pulling out, said a Singapore Manufacturing Federation spokesman.