The labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM) called on the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for a pro-active response to the continued hemorrhage of jobs as Lufthansa Technik Philippines (LTP) announced that 300 workers will be laid off in April. PM is asking the government to implement a massive public employment program to provide decent jobs to the newly unemployed. The DOLE announced recently that half of the 400,000 workers reported as retrenched last year were fired in the last quarter of 2020.
“The layoffs at the aviation sector, such as in LTP, Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and Air Asia are a wakeup call to the government that the economic crisis is still worsening and that urgent action is needed to assist millions of unemployed. Workers are suffering from the double whammy of high unemployment and high prices,” stated Rene Magtubo PM national chair.
PM is reiterating the Nagkaisa labor coalition’s proposed Unemployment Support and Work Assistance Guarantee (USWAG). USWAG calls for a state-led creation of jobs, including green jobs, ranging from 100 days to 9 months, and to provide a P10,000 income guarantee to the unemployed, including OFWs, to enhance aggregate demands that the economy badly needs for recovery. The USWAG proposal was officially submitted by Nagkaisa to DOLE last year. A wealth tax on the richest Filipinos is likewise being proposed to fund the costs of economic recovery.
PM is also demanding a P100 across-the-board salary increase together with a new round of ayuda in the form of a universal basic income guarantee amounting to P10,000 for the working poor in the informal economy.
Magtubo insisted that “The DOLE cannot just be a passive collector of statistics of dismissed workers. It should also be regulating the series of mass firings since it may involve contractualization and union busting. Employers are weaponizing covid-19 to bust unions, shift to endo and deny workers their benefits and rights.”
PM pointed to the 300 workers laid-off in the garment factory First Glory in the Mactan Economic Zone and the 200 employees rendered jobless by the shutdown of the Arcya Glass Corp. in Calamba, Laguna. Among the fired First Glory workers were union officers and members. Some 76 First Glory union officers and members plan to file cases for union busting and illegal dismissal.
Meanwhile the union at Arcya Glass already has a pending case for union busting and illegal closure. The union alleges that the shutdown of the glass factory a few months ago was motivated by the company’s desire to avoid negotiating their collective bargaining agreement. Further, the union is calling on the DOLE to investigate since the factory is operating on a skeletal workforce despite filing for permanent shutdown. The workers maintain a picketline outside the factory in protest at the alleged illegal closure.
February 13, 2021