SINGAPORE: At least 100 Singapore employees of ride-hailing firm Uber were told to pack up and leave on Monday morning (March 26) as a result of rival Grab’s acquisition of its operations in Southeast Asia, but Grab clarified hours later that the Uber employees are on paid leave.
Its top executives added that they are committed to finding a role for Uber’s staff in Grab.
“We will be having conversations with all 500+ employees on how they would fit into Grab. In the meantime, all Uber employees are on paid leave,” Grab said in a media statement, acknowledging it had been an “emotional and trying day” for Uber’s affected employees.
“We have faith that many of Uber’s employees are as committed to improving the lives of people in Southeast Asia as we are. We look forward to welcoming them to the Grab family.”
Grab’s head of people Ong Chin Yin posted on professional networking platform LinkedIn that it would be having a town hall on Tuesday afternoon with its co-founders.
In the wake of both firms’ public announcement on Monday morning, however, Uber employees were told to pack up within two hours and leave the company’s office at Mapletree Anson in Tanjong Pagar by 12.30pm, according to an affected employee who worked as a telesales specialist and only wanted to be known as “Mohd.”
The company broke the news to the employees in a meeting room, and the employee said no information was provided on any compensation they were entitled to.
“During the meeting, we were told to pack up, shut down operations and leave the office by 12.30pm. We were given no updates about severance package or anything,” said the 24-year-old, who joined the company in March last year and whose contract was to run until September.
“We were only told that we were free to apply for other jobs,” he said.
“After the meeting, everyone was left speechless. Some people were in tears. I was devastated and I felt very lost. All of a sudden I was out of a job,” he added.
Videos on social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram have surfaced of Uber employees hastily packing their belongings.
The employee said the telesales department consisted of at least 100 employees. “Full-timers and staff from other departments were also packing up,” said Mohd.
Although there had been reports of Grab’s potential acquisition in the weeks leading up to the announcement on Monday, Mohd said that there were no official updates from management.
“Since there were no updates from our supervisor, we weren’t expecting it to affect our jobs,” he said. “I have no other options at the moment, I definitely feel like we were hung out to dry. The least they could have done is given us more time and notice, rather than just two hours to pack up and leave.”
National Trades Union Congress assistant director-general Ang Hin Kee, who is the executive adviser to the National Private Hire Vehicles Association, said the labour movement tried to contact Uber on Monday to get more information but “all the phone lines, emails were out and we couldn’t get in touch with anybody” … CONTINUED
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