Over 4,000 workers in Mactan export hub lose jobs

The cutting of a quarter of its workforce by the Mactan Export Processing Zone’s largest group of companies is “a harbinger of worse things to come,” says Partido Manggagawa

CEBU, Philippines — Five major garment companies in the Mactan Economic Processing Zone (MEPZ) in Lapu-Lapu City announced the layoff of more than 4,000 workers in a joint statement on Thursday, September 29.

Mactan Apparels, Metro Wear, Globalwear Manufacturing, Feeder Apparel Corporation and Vertex One Apparel Philippines, all part of the Sports City group of companies, said the layoffs affected a quarter of their workforce.

“As the world now stands on the brink of a global recession with higher-than-expected inflation and global financial conditions tightening, our business and that of our clients is no exception,” their statement said.

The groups cited the impact of Typhoon Odette’s aftermath, supply chain problems, rising gas prices and the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

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“We have no choice but to implement the redundancy program to keep our business afloat and continue employing at least 75% of our workforce,” they said.

Before the redundancy program, the companies employed a total of 18,000 people. The companies promised that the affected workers would receive their statutory separation allowance.

This is the second round of mass layoffs by the same group of companies.

In September 2020, they laid off 4,420 workers due to the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

But by December of this year, the SportsCity group of companies initiated an active reinstatement program as pandemic restrictions on businesses eased.

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“For the largest MEPZ employer, laying off 1/4 of its workers could portend worse things to come. What is the government’s response? Don’t tell us ‘unity,'” said Dennis Derige of Partido Manggagawa (PM) Cebu in a statement sent to Rappler on Friday, September 30.

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Worker groups PM and Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) said they were investigating Sports City’s claim of a “sudden drop and reduction in orders from customers.”

“We cannot take these claims at face value. In fact, factories traditionally increase production during the “ber” months (from September to December) to meet the huge surge in demand during the holiday season. We will seek help from our allies abroad to verify the veracity of these claims of diminished orders,” Derige added.

According to the PM, in 2021 workers tried to organize unions at Mactan Apparels, Metro Wear and Globalwear Manufacturing but were defeated in certification elections.

“PM had criticized the companies for postponing the elections by almost half a year despite an anti-union campaign via social media,” the statement said.

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PESO support

Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Junard “Ahong” Chan advised affected workers to contact the Public Employment Service (PESO) Bureau for help.

“Offered by Mr. Kim Francisco, the peso head is now available when it comes to being official. company” Chan said on his Facebook page.

(We have instructed our PESO head, Mr. Kim Francisco, to prioritize workers when there are available positions offered by different companies.)

Since September 26, Francisco said, PESO has taken care of dozens of laid-off workers. It has also coordinated with top management of apparel companies at MEPZ to mitigate the impact of the downsizing program, he added.

The Lapu-Lapu Municipality plans to hold a municipal job fair in November. Last September 16, the municipal job fair attracted 4,500 participants. – Rappler.com