Mustafa Centre struggles to retain staff amid COVID-19

The retail giant told workers in Singapore they don’t expect ‘to return to the pre-COVID days’

Mustafa Centre struggles to retain staff amid COVID-19

Mustafa Centre, a popular shopping centre for tourists and locals in Singapore, is the latest retail business to fall victim to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a memo seen by HRD, Mustafa informed staff of further cost-cutting measures, including reducing payroll costs as well as letting go of foreign workers after their work passes run out.

The tougher measures come as travel restrictions remain in place, with Mustaq Ahmad, managing director at Mustafa Singapore predicting recovery “will take longer than expected”. He added that they don’t expect the business to return to pre-COVID days.

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our business has been affected badly,” wrote Ahmad. “Our operating hours have been reduced and strict safe distance measures have been imposed. We are not able to recall all our employees to work due to these reasons.”

READ MORE: Mustafa Centre's HR under fire for corruption

The additional measures follow “serious efforts” to reduce their spending and sustain the business as long as possible, added the MD.

For foreign workers, Ahmad said they’re unable to renew work passes and will have to repatriate them. Mustafa will pay for their return ticket home and offer workers a month’s basic salary.

As for local staffers, Mustafa will be cutting the ‘sustenance allowance’ they’ve been paying employees who haven’t been able to return to work since June. The $300 monthly token amount will be discontinued with effect from October 1, 2020, according to the memo, first published by The Straits Times.

Mustafa is thus encouraging employees to take on a second job for income. To help employees, they’re working with the Singapore manual and mercantile workers union, e2i and NTUC to source job vacancies.

READ MORE: COVID-19: How to implement a 'fair' employee pay cut

“Apart from that, many of our employees are already finding job opportunities with different employers and have been asking us to waive the notice period,” wrote Ahmad.

“We will accept the resignation letter without notice period and give you the one month basic salary as a token of appreciation for the contribution to the company.

“We regret to have to resort to these decisions but hope that business will come back to normal as soon as possible.”

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