November 19, 2008
The Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) today formally asked Congress to initiate a legislative inquiry into the effects of the ongoing global recession on the workers as reports pile up on job layoffs and work rotation in export-oriented factories. “The recession in the US and Japan, the two biggest economies in the world and the main market for our exports, spells double trouble for the Philippines,” averred Renato Magtubo, PM chairperson.
In separate letters to Sen. Jinggoy Estrada and Rep. Magtanggol Gunigundo, chairpersons of the Senate and House Labor Committtees respectively, PM asked for an investigation “for the purpose of enacting legislation that will assist workers in coping with the economic downturn.”
In its appeal the labor group also asked the Labor Committees to invite representatives of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Philippine Export Processing Zone Authority (PEZA) to the hearings. “Congress must compel the DOLE and PEZA to disclose data about permanent closures, temporary shutdowns and work rotations that has happened in the last three months,” Magtubo argued.
PM has complained that its local leaders were given the runaround by the DOLE Region IV-A and Region VII offices when they requested for data on the impact of the crisis on workers.
Magtubo added that “While it may take some time for the howling winds of the perfect economic storm to hit the shores of the Philippines, the initial impact is already being felt in the factories whose clients are in the US, Japan and Europe—all in recession. The three are also the destination for a significant section of the nine million overseas Filipinos and the source for a large part of their $14 billion yearly remittances through official channels.”
The group also suggested to the Labor Committees to table for deliberation its proposals for a subsidy for workers who will be laid off due to the crisis, for tax breaks for all employees as a form of economic stimulus, and for a thoroughgoing reform of the public employment program so that the millions of unemployed Filipinos can get jobs.
Magtubo announced that “We intend to cooperate fully with the Senate and House Labor Committees. If they need our assistance, we will help them in identifying export zone workers who have fallen victim to job loss or reduction of workdays.”