June 20, 2009
The labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) reiterated its call for a “workers bailout” in the face of the impending closure of another big electronics firm in the Mactan Export Processing Zone (MEPZ) in Lapu-Lapu City. Celestica, a Canadian-owned factory producing various electronics products, will shutdown its plant inside MEPZ I on August 31 and relocate its Philippine operations to Thailand.
“We call on the government to backtrack from charter revision and instead focus on the economic recession. The closure of Celestica and the layoff of some 900 workers belie the claim of DOLE and NEDA about a rebound in the electronics industry. It is not a slow growth but a sluggish decline that best describes the economy. A bailout of the workers and the poor will put money in the hands of the consumers and revive domestic demand and thus the local economy,” argued Renato Magtubo, PM chairperson.
PM has been pushing for a bailout package for workers in the light of continuous hemorrhage in jobs in export firms. The bailout includes an unemployment subsidy for displaced workers; 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.
PM contends that the economy is practically in recession and thus urgent action must be taken. “Government cannot keep on whistling in the dark and being in denial about the recession. Intel closed last December, come August it will be Celestica and in between tens of thousands have lost their jobs and many remain without work. An economic revival can only come about through a policy reversal and paradigm shift in the national development model. The policies of liberalization, deregulation and privatization must be stopped. The local economy must be developed by strengthening industry and modernizing agriculture based on agrarian reform,” insisted Magtubo.
Magtubo furthered that “In the immediate period, the workers of Celestica can live off their above-standard separation pay of 45 days per year of service. But if they cannot find another job in the next six months then their living standards will suffer in the medium to long-term period. Workers are being made to pay the price of a crisis that is not of their own making.”
“Celestica is closing its Philippine plant and shifting it to Thailand to take advantage of the cheaper price of labor there. By concentrating production in its Thailand factory, Celestica is able to maintain if not improve its profit amidst the crisis. However they would be throwing their Filipino workers like dirty rags after benefiting from their labor these past five years or even 10 years if we count from the time that Celestica was still called NEC Techonologies Phils.,” argued Magtubo.