Grab lays off workers as pandemic pain prevails over delivery boom

Ian Nicolas Cigaral - Philstar.com
A woman walks past the Grab transport office in Singapore on September 24, 2018.
AFP / Roslan Rahman

MANILA, Philippines — Despite a food delivery boom, Singapore-based ride-hailing app Grab was not spared from the pandemic pain, announcing on Tuesday the layoff of over 300 employees in its Southeast Asian base, including the Philippines.

Grab, which operates in 8 countries in Southeast Asia, will let go 360 employees or "just under" 5% of its headcount, Anthony Tan, company chief executive and co-founder, said in a statement. "We understand this news will cause anxiety and dread. Please know that we did not come to this decision lightly," Tan said. 

A representative from Grab confirmed to Philstar.com that some staff in the Philippines will be let go but did not disclose the number of eliminated positions and their specific roles. Apart from the Philippines and Singapore, the SoftBank-backed superapp has presence in Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

"We are truly sorry for what’s happening today. To those who are impacted, we owe you an explanation," Tan said. Eliminated workers would be notified through e-mail on Tuesday. 

Grab said the pandemic drastically sapped demand for its ride-hailing service, its main business, which is still too massive to take despite a boom on its food delivery arm, GrabFood, from stay-at-home consumers. The impact became more pronounced after governments started closing borders and enforcing strict movement restrictions to break the virus contagion.

In the Philippines, quarantine measures have remained in effect at various levels since March 17.  

Tan said Grab "tried everything possible" to retain its employees, including cutting back on discretionary spending and implementing salary deduction for senior management roles. But despite these efforts, Tan said Grab "still have to become leaner" to tackle the post-pandemic economy.

"To achieve this, we will be sunsetting some non-core projects, consolidating functions for greater efficiency, and right-sizing teams to better match our changing business needs given the external environment," he said, without going into specifics.

"We are also doubling-down on our delivery verticals and have redeployed Grabbers to meet the increased customer demand for deliveries," he added.

Grab is providing "financial, professional, medical and emotional support" to affected staff, including enhanced retrenchment pay, medical insurance coverage until year-end, encashment of unused leaves and allowing laid off workers to keep their company laptops, among others.

"I assure you that this will be the last organization-wide layoff this year and I am confident as we execute against our refreshed plans to meet our targets, we will not have to go through this painful exercise again in the foreseeable future," Tan said.

vuukle comment



  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with