4,000 workers retrenched; Lapu asks DSWD for help

THE Lapu-Lapu City Government will request the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DWSD) to provide assistance to around 4,000 workers who were reportedly retrenched from their companies in Lapu-Lapu City.

The City Council approved on mass motion during its fifth special session Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, Resolution 16-0496-2022 authored by Councilor Annabeth Cuizon.

Kim Francisco, head of the city’s Public Employment Service Office (Peso), earlier said over 4,000 workers were reportedly retrenched from companies operating at the Mactan Economic Zone (MEZ) 1 and Cebu Light Industrial Park (CLIP).

Francisco said the managements coordinated with the Mayor’s Office, Lapu-Lapu City Police Office (LLCPO), and Department of Labor and Employment in Central Visayas (Dole 7), to mitigate the adverse impact of their retrenchment programs.

With this, the City Council approved to request DSWD Secretary Erwin Tulfo, through Central Visayas Director Shalaine Marie Lucero, for assistance to be given to the workers who, Cuizon said, are in a crisis situation.

“In the midst of economic difficulties, it is very difficult to lose employment and it is urgent for the local government to step in and provide assistance to our residents who are included in the retrenchment,” said Cuizon in her resolution.

The City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) and Peso are requested to conduct a profiling of the retrenched workers from five locators of MEZ and ensure that the Lapu-Lapu City residents who are affected are provided with livelihood assistance and/or assisted in their job placement.

According to the official statement of MEZ, five of its locators that manufacture clothes saw the need to downsize their manpower through a retrenchment program.

“As the world is now on the brink of global recession, with higher than expected inflation and the global financial conditions are becoming tighter, our business and that of our customers are not an exemption especially being classified as a non-essential luxury product,” read their official statement.

Francisco noted this as the biggest retrenchment in Lapu-Lapu City amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, saying there were about 3,000 retrenched workers last year.

Vice Mayor Celedonio Sitoy, who serves as acting mayor until Wednesday, Oct. 5, already signed and approved the resolution.

Mayor Junard Chan is on a business trip with Lapu-Lapu City Lone District Rep. Ma Cynthia Chan, Councilors Eugene Espedido, Emilio Galaroza, lawyer Susan Baring and Jan Vincent dela Serna, to witness the performance of Lapu-Lapu City Performing Arts in this year’s Wonju Dynamic Carnival in South Korea on Oct. 1 to 3.

In his social media post, Chan said he already directed the Peso to give priority to the retrenched workers should there be job openings in other companies.

The mayor also asked the help of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority to provide the city with more livelihood training.

Francisco said displaced workers started to flock to their office Thursday, Sept. 29.

Investigate claims

Meanwhile, labor groups Partido Manggagawa (PM) and Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (Sentro) expressed their concern over the retrenchments.

“This is alarming for workers in Cebu and elsewhere. For the biggest MEZ employer to retrench 1/4 of its workers may be a portent of worse things to come. What is the response of government? Don’t tell us ‘unity,’” said Dennis Derige, PM-Cebu spokesperson in a press release.

The labor groups said workers of the garment firms Mactan Apparels Inc., Metro Wear Inc., Globalwear manufacturing Inc., Feeder Apparel Corp. and Vertex One Apparel Phils. Inc. -- all of which are owned by Sports City -- were affected in what they called the largest termination yet this year.

The labor groups said they will investigate the claims of Sports City about the alleged sudden drop and reduction of orders from the clients of the garment firms.

“We cannot take these claims at face value. In fact, factories traditionally increase their production in the ber months to meet the huge spike in demand during the holiday season. We will seek help from our allies abroad to check the veracity of these claims of diminished orders,” Derige said.

He said the workers were reportedly caught-off guard by the mass layoff, adding that there was no social dialogue between the employer and the employees, wherein workers could have a voice and participation on the basis and terms of their termination.

Both Sentro and PM called on the government to heed the demand for employment guarantees.

The proposal of the labor coalition Nagkaisa reportedly calls for public employment, preferably in climate jobs, for unemployed workers over a period of 100 days to nine months at minimum wages or P10,000, whichever is higher.

Derige said it is high time that employment guarantee and other social protection mechanisms are enacted.