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DFS Group's laid-off workers to get better severance payout

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DFS Group increases payout to one month's salary for each year of service

Retrenched workers from travel retailer DFS Group will be getting a better severance payout of one month's salary for each year of service, capped at 25 years.

At the maximum, the amount is more than seven times that of the original terms given when the retrenchments were announced in September, and is in line with market practice.

Employees were initially given one week's pay for each year of service, capped at 13 weeks.

The terms were then updated to two weeks' pay for each year of service, capped at 26 weeks, after intense criticism following the abrupt retrenchments of DFS staff at the Changi Airport and T Galleria shops, as well as the shared services centre at Chai Chee.

In a statement yesterday, a DFS spokesman said the group made its best efforts to meet affected staff face to face that same day.

"We remain committed to carrying out this exercise in a fair and sensitive manner," said the spokesman.

"We will also continue to work closely with our tripartite partners and external outplacement agencies to provide support to affected staff in their transition."

The company has had several "positive meetings" with the Singapore Manual and Mercantile Workers' Union (SMMWU) since early last month, and looks forward to further dialogues with the union and the National Trades Union Congress, added the spokesman.

In August, DFS announced that it would close its duty-free stores in Changi Airport by June next year.

It has not said how many workers were affected by the retrenchment exercise across its different locations, but media reports said that at least 60 staff at T Galleria in Scotts Road, at least 100 from Changi Airport and a similar number at the Chai Chee centre were laid off.

South Korean operator Lotte Duty Free will take over the 18 liquor and tobacco concession stores at Changi Airport next year.

SMMWU deputy secretary-general Elvin Lee said the revised terms of the severance payout would apply to workers who had already left the company as well as those who can work there until June next year. As of yesterday afternoon, some workers told him they had already received the news.

Besides working on the revised retrenchment package that has been decided on and implemented, SMMWU has asked the company to give it direct recognition so that it can represent its remaining workers in negotiations.

Union membership has increased significantly over the last six weeks.

"We've been working hard behind the scenes and the revised package is not a small sum," Mr Lee said.