Over 300 garment workers retrenched
“First Glory management is a grinch for firing workers weeks before Christmas. Ito ba ng pamaskong handog nila sa mga manggagawang tapat na nagsilbi sa kompanya?” said Cristito Pangan, the group leader and one of the retrenched workers.
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Over 300 garment workers retrenched

Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon (The Freeman) - November 29, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  A garment exporting firm at the Mactan Economic Processing Zone (MEPZ) in Lapu-Lapu City has laid off more than 300 employees due to financial losses amid the pandemic.

This resulted in a protest staged by affected workers of First Glory Apparel, which supplies t-shirts to its markets in Hong Kong, and United States of America, among others.

They marched around the ecozone complex, demanding for reinstatement.

“First Glory management is a grinch for firing workers weeks before Christmas. Ito ba ng pamaskong handog nila sa mga manggagawang tapat na nagsilbi sa kompanya?” said Cristito Pangan, the group leader and one of the retrenched workers.

Pangan said they were called for a meeting the other day and were told that it was their last day of work.

“Na surpresa na lang mi nga sa among meeting gi ingnan mi nga retrenched na mi effective immediately,” Pangan told The FREEMAN.

But he said they were offered a one month equivalent salary and a 15-day salary for every year of service.

“Wala mi nisugot sa ilang offer. Kay matud pa sa management, company losses due to the pandemic ang ilang rason. Pero  dili mi motoo nga alkansi ang company kay daghan man ni og mga order sa gawas sa nasud,” said Pangan.

The workers refused to accept the termination offer and demanded their reinstatement.

“Dili mi gusto nga bayran, among gusto nga mabalik mi sa trabaho,” said Pangan.

Pangan added that the company is just using coronavirus pandemic and  main client’s bankruptcy as alibis to replace regular workers with contract employees.

Dennis Derige, spokesperson of Partido Manggagawa-Cebu, said production has not decreased and, in fact, workers are asked to report for work even on holidays and on Sundays.

“This belies management’s claims. Likewise, we know that the main customer of First Glory has already exited bankruptcy this September and is operating normally in the US. That is also why we are making clothes for this global brand,” he said.

This latest retrenchment came on the heels of mass layoffs at other garment firms at MEPZ.

Earlier, the Sports City group of companies retrenched 4,000 workers, Yuenthai fired 200 workers, and FCO laid off 100 workers.

Derige said the “hemorrhage of jobs at the Mactan ecozone continues despite rosy reports from the government that the economy is recovering.”

“Workers are facing the double whammy of job losses and high prices without letup even with Christmas just on the horizon and the COVID-19 vaccine nearing distribution stage,” Derige said.

Also, Derige announced that the Bonifacio Day action of workers will highlight the plight of workers in the Mactan ecozone, along with the threat of the anti-terror law and other repressive measures in the time of COVID.

The November 30 action of workers in Cebu is nationally coordinated with other labor organizations and is also supported by global union federations.

“Without labor rights and civil liberties, workers will suffer under the despotism of capitalists intent on maximizing profits by squeezing their employees. Higher wages, better benefits, shorter hours and workplace safety are inseparable from the fight for democracy in society. This is the cry of workers today in the Mactan ecozone and in November 30 in Cebu and elsewhere,” Derige said. — KQD (FREEMAN)

MACTAN ECONOMIC PROCESSING ZONE
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