HGST axes 530 jobs in Singapore

HGST, a wholly-owned subsidiary of one of the world's largest hard disk drive manufactures Western Digital Corp, has announced the reduction of about 530 jobs in Singapore, the first major retrenchment in the island nation in recent years.

HGST, formerly known as Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, is slashing jobs in a bid to enhance the company's cost competitiveness.

Western Digital acquired HGST in 2011 from Japanese conglomerate Hitachi Ltd for $4.3 billion.

The job cuts were not ''revenue-driven,'' but a response to ''new market realities occurring in storage industry.

"It is a market-driven action that will benefit factory efficiencies as the mix of product deliverables changes to meet market needs," HGST said in a statement.

"HGST will be repositioning its Singapore manufacturing facility from a mass volume manufacturing site to a pilot production, engineering and shared service centre," the company said.

The job cuts represent about a quarter of HGST's Singaporean workforce. The company had 2,370 staff in Singapore, which will get reduced to 1,840 following the downsizing.

It is believed that half of the affected workers are Singaporeans, while the other half consists of mostly Malaysians and Chinese nationals.

San Jose, California-based HGST sells its leading storage portfolio around the world. It offers award-winning enterprise optimisation software and a broad portfolio of innovative, high-quality hard disk and solid-state drives that store, manage, and protect the world's most valued data in data-centres, mobiles, personal and consumer electronics storage devices.

The company said that it was committed to maintain its presence in Singapore, although it is believed that most of its hard drive production will be shifted to a cheaper plant in Thailand.

''Even with a tight labour market and an economy that is doing reasonably well, we will continue to see some amount of redundancy as our economy restructures. This is an inevitable reality and we will see more of this in the coming years,'' Singapore's acting manpower minister Tan Chuan-Jin said in a Facebook posting.

''We must ensure that the systems and processes are in place to help those affected,'' the minister said.

Singapore has a low unemployment rate of 2.8 per cent as of September.

Heng Chee How, executive secretary of the United Workers of Electronics & Electrical Industries (UWEEI), said that HGST "has committed to UWEEI to ensure fair compensation and treatment for the affected employees".

HGST said it had no plans "at this time" to make changes in its other locations. Outside Singapore, the company has operations in China, India, Japan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand, UK and the US. The company has around 41,000 employees worldwide.