TUCP sees more job losses with power rate hike

Published by rudy Date posted on April 13, 2009

MANILA, Philippines – The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) warned the government yesterday that more workers are expected to lose their jobs due to higher cost of electricity.

TUCP, the country’s largest labor group, said higher power cost could force more companies, particularly export firms, to shut down operations or retrench workers.

“The upward adjustments in Napocor (National Power Corp.) rates will definitely have the effect of an extra heavy tax on businesses and households,” said TUCP secretary-general and former senator Ernesto Herrera.

Herrera explained that power rate increases are counterproductive, and have tremendous potential to inflate the cost of company operations as well as prices of consumer goods and services.

“It’s even more difficult for many firms to cope with the sudden fall in their export sales due to the global economic meltdown, and force them to cut some more on their labor costs,” he said.

Herrera added that higher power charges would also weigh down on non-exporting firms already reeling from the decline in domestic consumer spending amid mounting job losses and the unusually harsh economic conditions.

He identified the power-intensive industries that include construction, fertilizer, cement, ceramics, steel, petrochemicals, aluminum, pulp and paper, glass, and basic chemicals could be affected by higher electricity rates.

Herrera said among export-oriented industries, the power-intensive manufacturer of electronics as well as garments and textiles are “extremely vulnerable to higher electricity charges.”

“Retail trade will likewise suffer, since large shopping malls, supermarkets and restaurants tend to consume a lot of electricity for air-conditioning, lighting and refrigeration,” Herrera pointed out.

Even call centers and other business process outsourcing providers risk being negatively impacted since they operate day and night, seven days a week, he said.

Meanwhile, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) advised displaced workers to look for employment online as it brings the “Jobapalooza” mobile caravan in various barangays in Manila.

Labor Secretary Marianito Roque said the Jobapalooza Mobile Caravan is equipped with Internet-ready computers and will help jobseekers from various barangays in Metro Manila to seek employment.

“They will just register online with the Labor Day Jobapalooza where participating employers would look for workers who meet their requirements,” he said.

Roque said upon registration with the Mobile Caravan, jobseekers would get an emailed ticket to the Jobapalooza Job Fair and concert, which would be held at SM Mall of Asia on May 1. –Mayen Jaymalin, Philippine Star

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