3,500 freeport workers to lose jobs due to COVID

Ric Sapnu - The Philippine Star

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT, Philippines  – Some 3,500 workers will be affected by the retrenchment program that will be implemented by 20 companies based in this freeport due to the coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19.

A report from the labor department of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) showed the companies have implemented cost-cutting measures such as forced leave, compressed workweek schedule and termination of workers since February.

The report showed that as of June 2, a total of 2,435 workers underwent forced leave while 124 others were bumped off by the compressed workweek schedules due to low product demand and lack of materials and supplies for production.

A total of 883 workers have been terminated since middle of February due to financial losses.

Among the companies that retrenched their workers are the computer device manufacturer Wistron Infocomm Philippines Corp., with 551; port operator Subic Bay International Terminal Corp., 121; theme park operator Subic Bay Marine Exploratorium Inc., 110, and importer Simon & Stanley International Trading & Development Co., with 74.

Wistron also placed hundreds of workers on forced leave in February and March before terminating 551 employees in April.

Meanwhile, ship repair firm Subic Drydock Corp. (SDC) will retrench 52 employees on June 25. From May 1 to 15, the company placed 149 employee on forced leave, the SBMA report showed.

The enhanced community quarantine imposed by the government in March to contain the pandemic compelled the company to stop operation for two months, SDC administrative manager Diana Ross Mazo said in a statement.

Despite the cancellation of bookings, the SDC recalled 40 percent of its workforce when it reopened on a staggered basis starting May 18, Mazo said.

“Over the next few weeks, the SDC will gradually increase capacity in support of the ‘new norm.’ However, based on careful review of our operation, we need to reduce manpower by separating some of our employees effective June 25,” she said.

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