Economic zone closure could hit 100,000 workers

LAPU-LAPU City Mayor Junard “Ahong” Chan is contemplating temporarily stopping the operations of three economic zones after their locators reportedly did not follow their agreement with the City to provide transportation for their workers.

If Chan pushes through with the temporary closure, an estimated 100,000 workers from Mactan Economic Zone (MEZ) 1 in Barangay Pusok, MEZ 2 and the Cebu Light Industrial Park in Barangay Basak could lose their jobs.

Chan told Superbalita Cebu he was disappointed with the MEZ’s locators after he noticed that workers from MEZ 1 had to wait for hours outside their workplace just to get a ride home.

Last week, Chan held a meeting with locators from the city’s three economic zones wherein the latter asked the mayor to allow them to continue operating by deploying their skeletal forces.

Chan allowed the locators to operate on the condition that they follow the city’s anti-Covid-19 protocol, including having their employees undergo thermal scanning once they enter their work premises, using alcohol to disinfect, practicing social distancing in the workplace, establishing an isolation room in case an employee has suspected Covid-19 symptoms and providing transportation for their employees during dismissal time.

The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) said it already informed locators of the strict guidelines on the safety measures against the spread of Covid-19 inside their facilities.

Peza director general Brigadier General Charito Plaza said the memorandum issued on March 23, 2020 should be followed by the locators.

Ecozone developers should regularly disinfect their premises and registered enterprises were also tasked to disinfect theirs especially the production area where majority of the workers are located.

Peza said there should be work-from-home arrangements, a skeletal workforce on site, provision of housing for the workers either inside or near the zone, social distancing and the use of shuttle services to ferry the employees.

If possible, doctors and nurses should be available in the ecozones.

Peza said there should be an implementation of measures for quarantine of registered enterprises’ skeletal workforce in anticipation of the local government unit’s declaration of shutdowns and lockdowns to avoid contamination of ecozone premises and assure the continued operation of registered enterprises. (FVQ, JOB / JKV)