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MANILA, Philippines – The Cavite Economic Zone (CEZ) suspended operations on Thursday afternoon, March 19, due to the increasing number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, in the province.
In a memorandum circular, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) ordered CEZ, one of the biggest public economic zones in the country, to halt operations until further notice.
This affected 439 companies that employ over 68,000 workers.
In a phone call, Cavite Governor Jonvic Remulla told Rappler that he welcomes the decision, as “social distancing is almost impossible in a factory setting.”
Remulla said he has yet to hear assurances from companies that the workers would get compensated.
He explained that the local government does not have jurisdiction over CEZ. Only PEZA and the Department of Labor and Employment can resolve workers’ compensation concerns.
PEZA’s memorandum does not state anything about workers’ compensation.
Remulla said some factories at the First Cavite Industrial Estate remain open since some companies there manufacture the packaging for rubbing alcohol products.
Cavite, a first class province accoriding to its income, has a projected population 4.8 million this year. It is adjacent to Metro Manila, the center of coronavirus outbreak in the country.
PEZA reminded other economic zones to ensure the health and safety of their workers as they run on a skeleton workforce.
PEZA said workers are given unhindered passage through the provision of PEZA stickers on industry cargoes and shuttle buses for workers.
“Social distancing and thermal scanning are being implemented on all vehicles. Facial masks are also required for their employees when going to work. Big companies have also adapted the work-from-home scheme and provided housing for their skeletal workforce who will need to come in,” said PEZA Director General Charito Plaza. – Rappler.com