No retrenchment at Grab, other international firms remain tight-lipped

International firms that have been downsizing in respective home countries are silent on furloughs in its Malaysian operations


ASIA’S private-hire and food delivery giant Grab Holdings Inc, which has cut the pay of its senior management by up to 20% and encouraged its staff to take voluntary no-pay leave, has not cut its workforce in Malaysia.

In a note to drivers on end-April, Grab Singapore’s head of transport Andrew Chan said as the company’s revenues continue to fall, senior leaders have taken a pay cut of up to 20% and staff have been encouraged to take unpaid leave voluntarily.

Grab Malaysia’s spokesperson said they “didn’t cut (the number of) employees”, when contacted recently.

However, other international firms that have been downsizing in respective home countries remained tight-lipped on furloughs or layoffs in its Malaysian operations.

European aviation giant Airbus SE in May reportedly said it will announce “deep” permanent job cuts as the industry struggles with grounded global travel during the pandemic.

Airbus has already furloughed 6,000 workers since the start of the pandemic and according to reports, the size of the upcoming layoffs will be determined by the size of the aviation downturn and will include both factory workers and office staff.

When contacted by The Malaysian Reserve (TMR), Airbus Malaysia declined to comment.

French multinational chain of personal care and beauty store Sephora also laid off over 3,000 employees across the US via a conference call on March 31, 2020.

Before the layoffs, Sephora employed almost 13,000 US store employees.

In a statement on the company’s website, Sephora president and CEO Jean-André Rougeot said more than 9,000 store employees in the US remained employed and that they would be paid based on their average hours worked.

Sephora Malaysia when contacted declined to comment on the prospect of layoffs at its branches throughout the country.

Even Marriott International Inc at the end of May announced it will extend furloughs and reduced hours that began in April until Oct 2, 2020, saying the Covid-19 pandemic has stifled business more than the Sept 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the 2008 financial crisis combined.

The multinational diversified hospitality company that has its presence around Malaysia via established hotels did not reply to an email by TMR at the time of writing.

Malaysian-born low-cost airline AirAsia Group Bhd, which has its presence globally, may lay off more than 300 employees to pare down its operations amid the pandemic.

The layoffs, said to have been announced by CEO Riad Asmat during an internal briefing session recently, are expected to involve 111 cabin crew members, 172 pilots and 50 engineers.

Riad was quoted as saying that as there are no other options to ensure the low-cost carrier continues to operate like before, the organisation’s restructuring is a viable alternative at present due to the difficult global economic situation.

It was also stated that long-haul budget carrier AirAsia X Bhd will also reduce its workforce, including foreign employees with no specific number of employees announced.

Most recently, its Philippines arm said it has decided to cut its workforce by 12% which would translate to about 260 jobs out of its 2,200-strong workforce.