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PIA Press Release

Over 600 workers lose jobs in Central Visayas as firms cut on labor due to crisis

Cebu City (11 February) -- Over 600 workers in the region have been laid off in January alone as companies continue to cut costs in manpower due to the global financial crisis, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE-7) said.

DOLE-7 Regional Director Elias Cayanong in a PIA forum bared that last year, 5,700 workers have reported loss of jobs especially in firms that have been hit hard by the worldwide economic slowdown. Sectors that have been most affected are the furniture companies, gifts, toys and housewares and locators at the Mactan Export Processing Zone (MEPZ) especially the electronics manufacturing as demand for these products decline.

Most of those that have been displaced are working in Cebu, this is learned.

Cayanong however, said that based on their further inquiry, not all the more than 5,000 displaced workers were retrenched but rather, most opted for voluntary retrenchment to use the money for capital to start a small business.

Majority of the locators at the MEPZ are adopting a short or compressed work-week where the number of working days is reduced with no overtime policy in order to prevent abrupt termination or retrenchment. But such working scheme did not sit well with most of those that have been displaced preferring instead for voluntary retrenchment, according to Cayanong.

Export-oriented industries have been badly hit by the current global financial meltdown, this is said.

Cayanong was one of the guests during the Kapihan sa PIA held this morning that tackled the topic 'Government Measures to Address the Rising Unemployment Due to the Global Crisis."

As part of the Comprehensive Livelihood Emergency Employment Program (CLEEP) ordered by President Arroyo to assist the displaced workers, the DOLE-7 conducted a two-day mobile caravan recently in the cities of Mandaue and Lapulapu where affected firms were mostly based. Together with local and overseas placement agencies with ready job orders, displaced workers are supplied with information on job opportunities here and abroad.

Part of the services offered during the caravan is legal assistance, skills training and creation of livelihood and income augmentation projects for identified beneficiaries.

The DOLE-7 recently gave almost P400T subsidy to the Mandaue City Government where the money will be allocated for livelihood programs to displaced workers of the city. This intervention requires co-sharing with the local government unit where the LGU also puts up a counterpart funding for the same purpose, Cayanong declared.

In the case of Mandaue City, an 80-20 sharing was made with DOLE-7 providing the 80 percent of the subsidy. Cayanong stressed that this is not an outright grant as those that can avail of the program are only the displaced workers that are duly accredited and certified by the DOLE-7.

Displaced workers are also offered skills development training at the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA-7) so they could learn new skills and acquire new jobs.

The DOLE-7 today is having a multi-sectoral consultation to determine the needs of those that have been affected by the crisis and to inform the various interventions of the government to alleviate the situation. Participants who attended the multi-sectoral meeting were from the labor union, informal sector, people's organizations and non-government organizations among others.

Last week, the DOLE also had a convergence planning where all intervention programs of the different government agencies for displaced workers are noted so these could be presented to the various sectors for the affected workers to avail. (PIA-Cebu/FCR) [top]

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