April 15, 2009
The labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) disputed the “rosy GRIM report” released by Labor Secretary Marianito Roque and Economic Planning Secretary Ralph Recto. “In the export zones of Calabarzon and Cebu, ground zero of the impact of the perfect economic storm, what we see are continuous retrenchments not a tapering of layoffs. Roque and Recto are modern-day brothers GRIM with a fairy tale of 14,000 displaced workers rehired by their former employers,” argued Renato Magtubo, PM chairperson.
“If Roque is able to show a capitalist who has rehired their retrenched workers, we will present a hundred workers who remain jobless and penniless,” Magtubo insisted as he revealed the recently retrenchments the group has uncovered.
He said that Danam Phils., an electronics firm in the Cavite Economic Zone in Rosario, terminated more than 300 workers last March. Meanwhile Lear, a locator in the Mactan Export Processing Zone (MEPZ) which makes electronic components for cars, retrenched some 400 workers early this month and employees fear another batch of layoffs soon. Last Saturday, Sauna World (Sawo), a factory producing sauna and spa heaters also in MEPZ, terminated 84 workers, about half its workforce.
“Even assuming that job losses are indeed tapering off, government has not even made good on its promised aid to displaced workers. Two weeks ago officials were announcing that electronics firms will not retrench workers and instead pay employees half of their wages while undergoing training. They also promised that laid off electronics workers should receive benefits on top of their separation pay. Finally, Recto was dangling the prospect of unemployment insurance. These are unfulfilled promises as shown by the experience of Cavite and Cebu workers,” Magtubo declared.
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. Among the 400 terminated Lear workers were those who availed of a retirement offer but others were simply retrenched without the required 30 days notice. Sawo declared in its termination letters to its workers that it is suffering from losses due to the economic crisis and offered to pay only 15 days per year of service in separation pay.
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.
“Bailing out the workers is just the first step. Reversing the policies that brought about the crisis itself is the next. The policies of liberalization, deregulation and privatization must be rolled back,” insisted Magtubo. ###