Bailout package for displaced workers gains support

Published by rudy Date posted on January 26, 2009

MALOLOS CITY—The government is rushing a stimulus package to bail out threatened economy to save and create jobs in private companies, but the National Food Authority (NFA) will lay off 800 regular employees.

Eduardo Camua, an officer of the NFA Employees Association, said that government employees are also affected by the economic crisis.

“It’s ironic, the government is trying to save and create jobs for others, but they are also cutting us off from our source of livelihood,” he said.

Documents obtained by The STAR showed that at least 800 NFA employees from Central Luzon offices have received a notice of redundant /abolished position based on Executive Order 366 or the Government’s Rationalization Plan which is designed to reduce costs of operations.

Camua said that some of the affected employees are nearing retirement age, but others are too young to retire.

“The retirement is okay but the retirement package is not attractive and might not be able to raise a family especially the employees with low positions,” Camua said.

Documents showed that the retirement incentives that will be received by affected employees who avail of the early retirement package would be based on their basic pay as of June 30, 2007.

The NFA Employees Association urged the government to reconsider the implementation of EO 366.

They also reminded the government that NFA mandate is for food security and lose of job will mean no livelihood for the affected employees.

Camua said that in case of another rice crisis hit the country like last year, the agency will be short of manpower, which made a difference in price monitoring last year.

The call for the distribution of monthly allowance and other assistance for displaced workers nationwide have gained more support.

The Blas F. Ople Center yesterday threw its support behind the proposed bailout package to enable displaced workers to meet their basic needs while still looking for new employment.

Susan Ople, president of the policy center, said the government bailed out private banks with non-performing assets through the Special Purpose Asset Vehicle (SPAV) law in 2003 and similar assistance should be provided to workers.

“When hundreds of workers lose their jobs through no fault of their own, can’t the government intervene by giving them direct financial assistance during a transition phase?” Ople asked.

Ople said the proposed transition package would enable displaced workers to partly settle outstanding loans or maintain their families’ upkeep.

Ople said the Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration (OWWA) can work with the Department of Education (DepEd) and Commission on Higher Education (CHED) on a joint program to keep children of displaced OFWs in school despite the crisis.

The DOLE reported that it is looking into the possibility of providing monthly allowance for displaced workers.

A labor official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the allowance will be taken from the cash transfer fund of the Department of Social and Welfare and Development (DSWD) for the poorest of the poor.

Meanwhile, the National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC) is set to launch a bigger and better Diskwento Consumer Caravan this year.

Labor Secretary Marianito Roque said the caravan is intended to provide cheaper products for Filipino workers and their families at this time of financial crisis.

This developed as 405 workers were laid off by a nickel mining firm in Dinapigue, Isabela last week.

The Platinum Group Metals Corp. (PGMC) was forced to shut down operations after the decline in the price of nickel in the world market. – Dino Balabo, Mayen Jaymalin and Charlie Lagasca, Philippine Star

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