2,000 hotel workers praised for taking on critical roles during pandemic, Singapore News & Top Stories

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Mr. Akbar Khan Omar Khan had been working as a butler for high priority guests at the five-star Grand Hyatt hotel for about 30 years when the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

During the circuit breaker to stem the spread of the disease last year, his department saw few such guests arriving and therefore hotel management offered him and his colleagues the opportunity to be seconded to another company to fill essential roles.

These included jobs as safety distance ambassadors, contact tracers, temperature controllers, warehouse preparers or packers, and supermarket retail assistants.

Mr Akbar, 48, accepted the offer to work as a retail assistant at a FairPrice supermarket, in charge of storage and reorganization of shelves for drinks, rice, sugar and eggs.

Some colleagues who did not want to be seconded were asked to erase their paid time off or agree to a transfer to other hotel departments that needed more manpower, he said.

Yesterday at an online appreciation session hosted by the Food, Beverage and Allied Workers Union (FDAWU), Mr. Akbar was one of more than 2,000 hotel employees honored. for assuming essential front-line roles.

Over 280 representatives from 34 hotels and 15 government agencies and businesses attended the session.

From July to November last year, Mr. Akbar was also deployed as a Security Management Inspector with the Singapore Tourism Board.

He was in charge of inspecting the stores of Little India.

He said his experience with customers has proven to be helpful in helping him convince store owners to adhere to sound management measures.

“Sometimes you can tell that they don’t want us to come and inspect their stores. But I spoke to them nicely and said,“ If you follow these procedures, your customers will feel safe and they will want to come and shop. . ‘ They listened to us and were happy to receive us, ”said Mr. Akbar.

He has since returned to the Grand Hyatt and helped housekeeping, which is understaffed.

FDAWU helped facilitate the redeployment by connecting hotels with employers such as supermarkets.

The hotels are paid by employers who need manpower. In turn, hotels are better able to retain their employees and continue to pay salaries.

Mr Kenneth Teo, director of human resources at DFI Retail Group, which owns chain stores such as Cold Storage, Giant and Guardian, said the group faced a labor shortage during the breaker of last year, when some 500 of its Malaysian employees were stranded in their homeland.

DFI hired around 500 hotel workers and redeployed them.

“Hospitality employees have always been known for their standards of service and they have demonstrated this in their interactions with our guests during their attachment,” said Mr. Teo, 35.

“We have been fortunate to be able to work with hotels that have deployed their F&B (food and beverage) employees to us. The food handling skills of the employees have been invaluable in serving our customers in our fast food counters and fresh aisles. “

The FDAWU said these employees “have shown a true spirit of hospitality by stepping out of their comfort zone to assume the roles of essential workers.”

“In doing so, they have also helped their employers cut costs to keep businesses operating during the pandemic,” he added.

FDAWU Advisor Christopher de Souza, MP for Holland Bukit-Timah GRC, said in a speech at the appreciation ceremony that the companies had used redeployment as a way to manage their workforce needs. artwork.

“Our workers fully understood the situation and selflessly agreed to be temporarily deployed to another company,” he said.

“They have worked tirelessly in the field and have contributed in their own way to society, for example by ensuring compliance with safe management measures or by supplying supermarket shelves with essentials during the period of panic buying. . “

FDAWU Secretary General Tan Hock Soon noted that the Covid-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of flexibility and adaptability. “The pandemic may have lasted longer than expected, but we also learned an important lesson: embrace change and be flexible so that everyone can tackle challenges together, in our own Singaporean mind. “

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