DOLE-7: 4,400 MEPZ workers retrenched
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Over 4,000 workers from firms operating in a special economic zone in Mactan Island, Cebu have been retrenched as a result of the coronavirus crisis, the labor department here reported.
In a press release dated September 18, 2020, the Department of Labor and Employment in Central Visayas (DOLE – 7) announced that at least five firms operating in Mactan Export Processing Zone (MEPZ) have implemented lay-offs, all of which will take effect this October 4.
The companies named were Global Wear Manufacturing, Metro Wear, Inc., Feeder Apparel Corporation, Vertex One Apparel Philippines, Inc., and Mactan Apparels Inc.
DOLE – 7 Director Salome Siaton said initially, the total headcount of retrenched manpower from the firms involved reached 5,600 but was reduced to 4,400 after their department had intervened and asked the over-all Human Resource Manager of MEPZ to reconsider the number of workers affected.
“As a result, instead of 5,600 workers retrenched, the number was reduced to 4,400. For couples affected, it was considered that only one will be dismissed from work,” said Siaton.
DOLE – 7 also said they were closely monitoring this development to ensure no labor violations were committed and fielded labor officers to oversee the implementation of the lay-offs.
“Involved companies were also reminded to abide by the requirements set forth under Article 298 of the Labor Code on the reduction of personnel,” Siaton said.
In the meantime, the labor agency in Central Visayas said they had partnered with the Lapu-Lapu City government to address offshoots and aftermaths of the retrenchment.
“As part of our joint intervention with the LGU (local government unit) thru the PESO (Public Employment and Services Office), we will be referring the affected workers to them for profiling,” said Siaton.
“Profiled workers will be referred to companies based in the city that have positions or jobs available. For workers who want to gain training experience, they will be referred to the training center of Lapu-Lapu City thru the TESDA (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority), where another coordination meeting has also been started,” she added.
DOLE- 7 also said they are planning to offer livelihood programs and projects for those affected by the lay-offs.
“For now, we already have secured the hard copies of the profile of the workers. These will form part of our tools in extending whatever form of assistance the Department, together with other partner-agencies could provide to the displaced workers,” Siaton said.
In July 2020, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported a double-digit unemployment rate in Central Visayas – at 11.7 percent. It was a slight decline compared to the 16.7 percent reported in April 2020, when the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) peaked.
Central Visayas was among the five regions in the country that still reported double-digit unemployment rates even if more relaxed quarantine measures were implemented.
The Philippines’ unemployment rate, as of July, eased to 10 percent, which is lower than the record-high 17.7 percent posted in April. / dbs
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