Layoffs may reach 300,000

Published by rudy Date posted on January 29, 2009

UP TO 300,000 people could lose their jobs in the Philippines over the next six months as the global financial crisis deepens, Labor Secretary Marianito Roque warned yesterday.

Some 15,000 had been laid off over the past two months, while 19,000 others had their work week cut to four days or less, he told reporters.

He said a “worst-case scenario” would see the number of jobless rise to between 250,000 and 300,000 by the end of June.

In Tokyo, Panasonic Corp. said it would cut 560 jobs in Asia including 60 in the Philippines, where it is shutting down its battery factory.

The world’s largest maker of plasma television would also shut down a factory in Malaysia, where 500 workers are to be laid off, to “cope with a rapid change in the global electronics market,” spokesman Akira Kadota said.

Apex Mining Co. Inc., a company listed in Manila and owned by British mining firm Crew Gold Corp., said it would axe 150 rank-and-file workers in its mining project in Compostela Valley in Mindanao to remain viable.

Over at Customs, around 800 warehousemen, storekeepers and security guards may lose their jobs under the government’s rationalization plan, according to Commissioner Napoleon Morales.

“We cannot help it because some of these positions are no longer needed,” Morales said.

The Makati Business Club said nine of its 10 members expected their business to feel the impact of the global financial crisis this year.

It said more than six out of 10 or 64 percent said the crisis would have a slight impact on their business.

Nearly three out of 10 or 29 percent expected the crisis to have a substantial impact, while only 7 percent believed it would have no effect on their business.

The government’s economic planning body pushed for a hotline to guide workers displaced by the global downturn.

“Why don’t we adopt a hotline system that will help [laid off people]?” Economic Planning Secretary Ralph Recto said.

He said the Labor, Social Welfare and Trade Departments, including the Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration, must coordinate to help displaced workers.

Roque described the job cuts so far, which include more than 10,000 in the Calabarzon industrial belt south of Manila, as being within the “manageable level” in relation to a nationwide work force of about 37 million.

Unemployment in the Philippines now stands at 6.8 percent.

The government is holding talks with employers’ groups to ease the fallout from the global economic downturn, which has heavily hit the country’s two top export earners electronics and garments, where most jobs have gone so far.

Manila had asked business groups to prepare measures to ease the impact on their workers and use job cuts only as a last resort, Roque said.

Job creation is tough in the Philippines, where some 27 million people live on a dollar a day or less and where one in three adults are unemployed or underemployed, according to official data.

Jennifer Manalili, head of the Labor Department’s Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, said Manila could export more of its work force as a last resort.

There was an unmet demand for 389,000 jobs abroad, including more than 100,000 in Qatar and 12,000 in Kuwait, Roque said. AFP with AP, Jenniffer B. Austria, Joel E. Zurbano, Roderick T. dela Cruz, Manila Standard Today

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