Singapore has been waking up to news of layoffs in recent months — this is a global trend among tech giants such as Meta (the parent company of Facebook) and Alphabet (parent company of Google) — and now a homegrown business, the Grab app, has announced that it is slashing 1,000 jobs in order to become more competitive.
However, all the layoffs would not be in Singapore, as the ride hailing and delivery app Grab has a presence across Southeast Asia, including neighbouring Malaysia. Grab bought Uber operations in Southeast Asia in March 2018, but then cut 360 jobs as the pandemic hit in 2020.
There were some reports yesterday that in keeping with the current industry practice of sending people an e-mail about getting fired, Grab informed laid-off workers through digital communication that their jobs were gone.
The figure of 1,000 job cuts represents 11 per cent of the Grab workforce. A general e-mail on Tuesday from company CEO Anthony Tan describes the redundancies as a “painful but necessary step”.
The CEO said: “We must adapt to the environment in which we operate. Change has never been this fast. Technology such as Generative AI is evolving at breakneck speed. The cost of capital has gone up, directly impacting the competitive landscape.”
It was not made clear why Artificial Intelligence would eat into the operations of a company that basically delivers stuff and helps people hail a ride. However, the announcement of sudden job cuts by the hundreds or even by the thousands has become the hallmark of what is now known as the “gig economy”, which means all jobs are essentially gigs that could end any time.
The CEO’s e-mail said that under the layoff plan, Grab workers who were being fired would get severance payment of “half a month for every six months of completed service, or based on local statutory guidelines, whichever is higher.”