Friday, November 14, 2008

Cebu traders start laying off workers


by Kristine L. Alave
Philippine Daily Inquirer

November 14, 2008

MANILA, Philippines – Export companies in the regions are feeling the pinch of the global recession and women workers are taking the first hit, a labor group said Thursday.

Partido ng Mangagawa (PM) said layoffs have started in the processing zones like those in Cebu province. It noted that seven companies in Cebu have reduced their workforce or working hours, due to the slow demand from the United States and Europe.

Renato Magtubo, PM chairperson, said data from their Cebu members belied Labor Secretary Marianito Roque’s claim that Philippine companies have not retrenched workers due to the financial crisis.

“The Department of Labor is merely looking the other way. Labor Secretary Roque has eyes, but he does not want to see,” he said.

“While government and business nitpick about the difference between a slowdown and a recession, the initial effects of the perfect economic storm are already being felt by workers in the export-processing zones,” he added.

PM labor officials in Mactan Export Processing Zone and nearby industrial estates said thousands of workers, mostly women who work in garment firms, have been affected by the recession.

Most of those displaced were women workers.

Greg Janginon, PM-Cebu chairperson, said 500 workers were displaced when garment firm Altamode temporarily shut down. He said the regional office of the labor department had no clue on Altamode’s temporary closure.

According to PM, the other companies in Cebu that cut down their working hours or number of workers were:

ï Cosonsa Manufacturing Inc., a furniture factory in Mandaue City, that exports to United States, China and Europe. PM said 200 workers were affected when it reduced its working days to four instead of five last October.

ï Arkaine Industries, a furniture factory in Jagobiao, Mandaue City. It shut down last month, displacing 200 employees.

ï Giordini del Sole, a furniture factory in Mandaue City that sells to local and foreign markets, has released a memorandum Thursday cutting down its working days to five from six. About 500 workers will be affected.

ï Paul Yu, a lamp shade factory located in Cebu, is leaving the Mandaue Export Processing Zone (Mepz) II for the town of Carmen. The relocation will affect 200 workers.

ï Maithland Smith, a garments factory in Mepz that laid off 50 workers who were retrenched last October.

ï Neostone, a furniture and stone casting factory in Mandaue City, closed last September, displacing 40 employees.

PM said the government should prepare a package to help the workers who will be jobless because of the recession.

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