Cebu News

DSWD asked to help 4,000 retrenched MEPZ workers

Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines —  The Lapu-Lapu City Council has requested the Department of Social Welfare and Development to provide assistance to 4,000 terminated workers at Mactan Export Processing Zone.

The council in a resolution passed on September 30, 2022 said that in the midst of economic difficulties, it is very difficult to lose employment and it is urgent for the local government to step in and provide assistance to their residents who are included in the retrenchment.

Aside from DSWD, the City Council also resolved to request the City Social Welfare and Development Office and the Public Employment Services Office to conduct a profiling of the workers retrenched from five locators at MEPZ and ensure that the residents of the city who are affected are provided with livelihood assistance and/or duly assisted in their job placement.

This developed as labor groups, Partido Manggagawa (PM) and Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) expressed their concern at the retrenchment of some 4,000 workers across five factories of the Sports City Group of Companies.

“This is alarming for workers in Cebu and elsewhere. For the biggest MEPZ employer to retrench 1/4 of its workers may be a portent of worse things to come. What is the response of the government? Don't tell us ‘unity’,” said Dennis Derige, PM-Cebu spokesperson, in a press statement.

Workers of garment firms, Mactan Apparels, Inc.; Metro Wear, Inc.; Globalwear Manufacturing, Inc.; Feeder Apparel Corporation; and Vertex One Apparel Phils. Inc.—all owned by Sports City—were affected in the largest termination yet this year.

Sports City is the biggest employer at the MEPZ and supplies to global garment brands.

Both PM and SENTRO said they will further investigate the claims of Sports City about the “sudden dropping and reduction of orders from our clients.”

“We cannot take these claims at face value. In fact, factories traditionally increase their production in the ber months to meet the huge spike in demand during the holiday season. We will seek help from our allies abroad to check the veracity of these claims of diminished orders,” Derige said.

He said that workers were caught off guard by the mass layoff.

He explained that, “There was no social dialogue between the employer and the employees. A better option is that negotiations transpire between employer and employee representatives so that workers have voice and participation in the basis and terms of the termination.”

Last year, unions were formed at Mactan Apparel, Metro Wear and Globalwear but were defeated in the certification election.

The PM had slammed the companies for delaying the elections for almost half a year even as an anti-union campaign was conducted using social media.

In the face of mass layoff at the MEPZ and other companies, PM and SENTRO also called on the government to heed the demand for employment guarantees.

The proposal of the labor coalition Nagkaisa calls for public employment, preferably in climate jobs, for unemployed workers over a period of 100 days to nine months at minimum wages or P10,000, whichever is higher. In response to this demand, the Department of Labor and Employment undertook a study of a social protection floor which has remained unimplemented.

“It is high time that the employment guarantee and other social protection mechanisms are enacted,” Derige further said. — GMR (FREEMAN)


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