‘Bailout package’ sought for displaced workers

Published by rudy Date posted on July 2, 2009

As three more light-industry factories are scheduled to close shop before the end of August 2009 thereby threatening the livelihood of 2,500 more workers, the Partido ng Manggagawa is already sounding a call for a “workers’ bailout” package that includes subsidy to and health coverage for displaced workers, refund of income tax paid by wage earners, and a moratorium on demolition and evictions.

The labor group made the call in the face of the impending closure of the Taguig-based Triumph garments factory and its subsidiary Star Performance on August 28, and Cebu-based Celestica electronics firm on August 31. Triumph and Star Performance are both German-owned with 1600 workers while Celestica is a Canadian-owned factory producing various electronics products in the Mactan Export Processing Zone (MEPZ) in Lapu-Lapu City with 900 employees.

“We call on the government to backtrack from charter revision and instead focus on the economic recession. The closure of Triumph, Star Performance and Celestica and the layoff of a total of more than 2,500 workers belie the claim of DOLE about a rebound in the garments and electronics industry. It is not a slow growth but a sluggish decline that best describes the economy. Unemployment insurance and a bailout of the workers and the poor will put money in the hands of the consumers and revive domestic demand and thus the local economy,” argued Renato Magtubo, a former party-list congressman and now Partido ng Manggagawa chairman.

Magtubo’s labor group has been pushing for a bailout package for workers in the light of continuous hemorrhage in jobs in export firms. The bailout includes an unemployment subsidy for displaced workers; tax refund for all wage earners; expansion and reform of the public employment program; extension of health care coverage for displaced workers; and moratorium on demolitions and evictions.

“Government cannot keep on whistling in the dark and being in denial about the recession. Tens of thousands have lost their jobs and many remain without work. An economic revival can only come about through a policy reversal and paradigm shift in the national development model. The policies of liberalization, deregulation and privatization must be stopped. The local economy must be developed by strengthening industry and modernizing agriculture based on agrarian reform,” Magtubo said.

Magtubo further said that “In the immediate period, the workers of Triumph, Star Performance and Celestica may be able to live off their separation pay. But if they cannot find another job in the next six months then their living standards will suffer in the medium to long-term period. Workers are being made to pay the price of a crisis that is not of their own making.” –Daily Tribune

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