Quote for the Week..

"Why are the country’s political leaders quick to act on amending the Constitution to change nationalistic provisions for the benefit of foreigners or to extend their terms of office but are allergic to amending the Constitution to address the people’s aspirations for self-determination?" - Marvic Leonen,Dean of the UP College of Law, in a keynote address delivered at the 1st International Solidarity Conference on Mindanao; March 16-18, 2009 in Davao City, Philippines.


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Downturn affects 34,000 Mindanao workers

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines -- Close to 34,000 workers stand to lose their jobs or work shortened hours this year as a result of the global economic downturn, according to a regional labor department official.

Alan Macaraya, director of the northern Mindanao regional office of the Department of Labor and Employment, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in an interview that his office project that at least 1.7 percent of the 1.81-million workforce in the provinces of Misamis Occidental, Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental, Lanao del Norte, Camiguin, including the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, will be affected by the global crunch.

"Our conservative projection is that almost 34,000 workers will be affected by the crisis. This means they will either be laid off or comply with compressed work week," he said.

According to labor department statistics, Macaraya said, almost 1,000 workers in Misamis Oriental and Iligan City have already been laid off by companies that have shutdown operations during the past weeks.

"Because of sharp decline in demand, many export-based companies in the region are slowing down. What they do is either downsize their operations or contract out parts of the operations," he said.

For some companies, this means they will have to operate between four and five days a week instead of six.

As early as November last year, major cement manufacturer Holcim Ltd. closed its shipping services Arastre, which had 350 workers.

Macaraya said five companies filed notices of retrenchment last month. These were Global Steel in Iligan City; Platinum Group of Companies in Manticao, Misamis Oriental; Refractors Corp. in Iligan City; IDS Philippines in Cagayan de Oro City; and Air Philippines.

The All Workers Alliance of Trade Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (Awatu-TUCP) has called on the labor department to ensure that the rights of the workers are protected in the wake of the retrenchments.

"We are supposed to be protected by the law. What the government can do is ensure that the companies will not violate what is provided for us by the labor code," Awatu-TUCP’s Milbert Macarambon said.

In Davao City, the southern Mindanao regional office of the DOLE said it will launch its global financial crisis center on Monday to help address the needs of displaced workers in the region.

Since December, more than 300 workers have already lost their jobs in Southern Mindanao, which is composed of the three Davao provinces and Compostela Valley.

Jalilo dela Torre, DOLE Region 11 director, said the center will serve as a one-stop shop for assistance on employment, livelihood, training, psychosocial, and legal aid.

It will be manned by "competent employees" of the agency, he said.(By Ma. Cecilia Rodriguez, Rizalene P. Acac)

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