30 January 2009
Another electronics company is cutting its workforce beginning today as the wave of layoffs due to the raging global economic crisis continue to hit the country’s export and local industry.
The Cavite chapter of the partylist group, Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), identified the electronics company as Dyna Image, a subcontractor producing Samsung camera parts. The firm is located at the Cavite Economic Zone in Rosario. The firm employs more than a thousand workers.
Early last week, Intel shut down its factory in Cavite displacing some 1,800 workers. Another giant, Panasonic, announced this week that it is shutting down its Philippine plant. Several other electronics companies in Laguna have either shut down or have slowed down their operations.
Consequently, the wave of layoffs has stirred the EPZA workers in Cavite and Cebu into action in the struggle to defend their jobs and livelihood. In solidarity with the displaced workers, the Rosario Workers Association (RWA), the United Cavite Workers Alliance (UCWA) and the Partido ng Manggagawa-Cavite staged a picket-protest action at the Gate 1 of the Cavite Economic Zone opposing layoffs and calling for the bailout of workers affected by this crisis.
Workers led by PM in Cebu held a similar protest action against the Lami Food Corporation—a factory processing meat products for the local Visayas and Mindanao market—which recently implemented a work rotation scheme while workers in a furniture firm at the Mactan Export Processing Zone (MEPZ) are already gearing for a strike early next week.
Last day at work
According to Dennis Sequeña, PM spokesperson in Cavite, his group learned of the planned layoff when five workers of Dyna Image told him of a rumor that a batch of workers in their company are going to be terminated and that today will be their last day in work. To verify the news, Sequeña and the five workers went to the Philippine Export Zone Authority (PEZA) office in Rosario. There they were informed by Mr. Allan Datahan of PEZA’s Industrial Relations Unit that the firm has already submitted a list of 400 workers that are due to be terminated beginning today and that the five are included in the list. Datahan also told them that there will be another wave of retrenchments next month.
PM decried the firm’s apparent lack of concern for its workers by not even informing its workforce of its planned retrenchments. Dyna Image workers even told PM that they are willing to come to terms with the management on work schedule or other setup just to preserve jobs and as long as it is acceptable to both parties and in accordance with existing standards.
As of this moment, however, workers do not even know what separation package Dyna Image plans to offer its remaining and retrenched workers. The department of labor on the other hand is hounded by a perception that it is doing a lackluster job in protecting workers rights and welfare in the export processing zones.
“Firms can always use the global crisis as convenient excuse to arbitrarily retrench workers. But we have labor standards to observe, job-reliant lives to save. In periods of crises, workers deserve a more humane treatment from their employers and unreserved protection from the state,” said Sequeña.
Sequeña attributed this arbitrariness on the part of EPZA firms to dump their workers, just how easy they throw their garbage out, on government’s long held policy of relaxing labor standards in these areas and making EPZAs union and strike-free.
“In EPZAs companies are accorded wide incentives such as tax holidays and lower power cost. But its workers are denied even the most basic of their rights. This is the reason why capitalists in these industrial enclaves consider themselves as untouchable investors who can decide on everything, including on the life and future of their workers,” explained Sequeña.
No to wage cut
Meanwhile Partido ng Manggagawa chair, Renato Magtubo, rejected the employers call for a wage cut to avoid layoffs. The call was made at the eve of the scheduled tripartite meeting today between the government, employers, and employees to address the crisis.
“Wage and job are not divisible parts of a worker’s life. That tradeoff is a bane to workers and serves no good to the ailing economy,” said Magtubo, stressing that on the contrary, his party’s proposal for a ‘stimulus package’ “is one that protects and creates jobs and one that puts money on workers’ hands.”
Magtubo said the labor party demands a kind of stimulus package such as a public employment program that creates millions of jobs; unemployment assistance from the SSS, GSIS, and OWWA that would directly benefit the displaced workers; and a tax refund for all workers.
“This is contrary to the investment plan being considered by the government to pour billions of workers’ pension funds to infrastructure and other business ventures which could end up as just another Juan Luna portrait scam or a bungled investment in Lehman Brothers,” concluded Magtubo.