April 14, 2009
Workers of Danam Phils., an electronics factory in the Cavite Economic Zone in Rosario, dared the government to make good on its promises about alternatives to layoffs and assistance to the displaced. Danam Phils. terminated more than 300 workers last March.
“Just before Holy Week, President Gloria Arroyo herself was saying that electronics firms should not retrench workers and instead pay half of their wages while undergoing training. Workers cannot survive on press releases. We dare the government to implement its promises not issue statements,” argued Dennis Sequenia, head of Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) in Cavite.
Danam Phils. laid off workers on the basis of serious losses due to the economic crisis. The retrenched workers were just given 13 days per year of service in separation pay and the much delayed payment of their 13th month salary.
“So we are asking Trade Secretary Peter Favila, where are other benefits on top of the separation pay for electronics workers that you were boasting two weeks ago,” Sequenia added.
The displaced workers of Cavite are also demanding that the government put into effect the proposal for temporary unemployment insurance. Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ralph Recto is recommending a monthly subsidy of P10,000 for each laid-off worker for six months.
Renato Magtubo, national chairperson of PM, explained that “The unemployment insurance proposal has been talked about in the media for several weeks. It is high time that it be implemented. Since retrenched workers will be receiving a subsidy of P10,000, we demand that electronics workers should not just be paid by their companies half of their wages but also receive from government a subsidy worth the other half.”
For the coming commemoration of Labor Day, PM is demanding a bailout package for workers in the light of continuous hemorrhage in jobs in export firms. The bailout includes subsidy for displaced workers from the SSS, GSIS and OWWA; tax refund for all wage earners; expansion and reform of the public employment program; extension of health care coverage for displaced workers; and moratorium on demolitions and evictions.
“Aside from the immediate measure of a workers bailout, an intermediate move is the reversal of policies that have led to closures, retrenchments and price hikes since the 1990’s. The policies of liberalization, deregulation and privatization must be rolled back,” insisted Magtubo.