Labor group warns 7,000 workers may lose jobs due to coronavirus outbreak

By Xianne Arcangel, CNN Philippines

A labor group warned Saturday that around 7,000 Filipinos may become jobless in the next six months as businesses are expected to take a hit from the fallout from the outbreak of the coronavirus disease.

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) expects that more workers will lose their jobs following Philippine Airlines’ decision to lay off 300 workers as more countries impose travel bans due to the coronavirus, formally known as COVID-19.

“The PAL retrenchment program and the travel bans will trigger more layoffs in several of its supply chains that include hotels, restaurants, land transport service, logistics, catering and other suppliers of the airlines,” TUCP party-list Rep. Raymond Mendoza said.

The Labor Department said it has yet to verify TUCP’s grim prediction, but admitted that some workers in the tourism industry could lose their jobs.

The House Committee on Labor and Employment will hold a hearing on Tuesday, March 3, on the department’s plans in case layoffs continue.

Officials from the Labor Department as well as representatives from labor and business groups are expected to attend the House hearing to discuss what the government must do to address the threat of joblessness.

Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Ferdinand Gaite, a member of the congressional panel, noted that three multinational companies are set to pull out of the Philippines this year — a move seen to leave over a thousand Filipinos jobless.

“From the economic point of view, hanggang dito na lang ba o may iba pang magtatanggalan?” Gaite said. “Ang gusto nating matiyak long term employment, hindi short term employment.”

[Translation: From the economic point of view, would these be the only layoffs or would there be more? … We want to ensure long term employment, not short term employment.]

Honda shutdown

Honda Cars is closing its manufacturing plant, while Wells Fargo, a financial services company, is relocating most of its jobs to India.

Mobile company Nokia is closing its research and development facility in Manila, citing tough market conditions.

The Labor Department said Honda has offered 400 workers who were laid off 280 percent of their monthly salary for every year of service as a separation package.

The department believes that the workers retrenched by Honda can easily find other jobs.

Sila po ay highly-skilled eh. May iba pa namang industriya o kompanya na nago-operate dito sa Pilipinas na nangangailangan ng skill na ‘yun,” Gaite said.

[Translation: They are highly-skilled. There are other industries and companies operating here in the Philippines needing those skills.]

Gaite said employees of car parts suppliers who will be affected by Honda’s shutdown also need help, not just the car manufacturer’s workers.

He added that Honda’s separation package is good, but workers need jobs.

“Whatever benefits, separation benefits they will receive will only last them for a few months or years,” he said.

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