MORE than 50 workers have lost their jobs at public-listed company Global Yellow Pages, in what unionists say is the largest retrenchment exercise by a unionised company this year.

The company, which publishes business and trade directories, saw its profits after tax falling from $16.4 million in 2010 to $4.2 million last year.

On Jan 21, it said in a profit warning to the Singapore Exchange that it expected to incur a loss this year. The company did not reply to queries about the layoffs by press time.

Global Yellow Pages had started out printing the iconic phone books, but has diversified its business in recent years.

In July last year, it bid for - and won - the rights to operate a fleet of river taxis plying the Singapore River at $88,000 a month for three years.

Former Cabinet minister Mah Bow Tan joined the company as chairman in September 2011.

The 50 or so employees were informed about the layoffs at the end of last year and will be clocking in for the last time today.

The Singapore Manual and Mercantile Workers' Union said that 19 of its members are among those being retrenched.

They do mostly administrative, finance and production work, and earn between $1,400 and $3,200 a month.

More than half of these members have been with the firm for over 15 years.

The union has negotiated for its members to get severance pay of one month for each year of service, capped at 25 years. It is also helping them to find jobs.

But while the union and Global Yellow Pages have sorted out retrenchment issues, they have yet to resolve another matter.

Both sides are still locked in a tussle over bonuses for workers arising from the company's $4.2 million profit last year.

The Manpower Ministry said it has met both parties three times and is still working to break the impasse.

The union declined to tell The Straits Times about its next move. In 2011, it took a similar dispute to the Industrial Arbitration Court, where the case was eventually settled out of court with workers getting bonuses of one month's pay on the back of the firm's $11.5 million profit that year.

Among those retrenched today was accounts officer Jasmine Lee, who had been with the company for more than 39 years.

"It is my first job and I am really sad to leave," said the 57-year-old. "This is like a second family to me."