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The SportsCity group of companies inside the Mactan Economic Zone laid off 4,420 workers in the biggest retrenchment here brought about by the pandemic-induced economic downturn.
The sports garment manufacturing company said in a statement that it had no choice but to implement the program to keep its establishments afloat and to continue providing employment to 76% of its workforce.
The company is located inside the Mactan Export Processing Zone (MEPZ) which has around 100,000 employees since the beginning of March according to an article by Sunstar.
“In implementing the retrenchment program, our companies have notified and sought the guidance of DOLE and PEZA. All our workers were informed as early as August 2020 through business update orientation on our current situation and the options our companies have considered, including the retrenchment program,” wrote in their statement.
Affected workers were given separation pays in accordance with the law, including the one month salary in lieu of the thirty days’ notice.
Earlier in May, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) noted a possible increase in unemployment throughout the year. Secretary Silvestre Bello III estimated around 4 to 5 million unemployed due to the pandemic.
On Monday, September 7, labor groups Partido Manggagawa (PM) and the MEPZ Workers Alliance slammed Sports City’s firing of around 4,500 workers.
“Some 4,000 breadwinners had the surprise of their COVID lives when they were unceremoniously terminated without any clear criteria. This is the single largest layoff in the Mactan Ecozone since the 2009 economic crisis,” said PM-Cebu spokesperson Dennis Derige.
MEPZ Workers Alliance monitored the situation and held online discussions on its official Facebook page for the workers’ grievances and concerns.
“As per our monitoring, several hundreds of workers are being fired in each of the following factories: Vertex One, Mactan Apparel, Globalwear Manufacturing, and Feeder Apparel,” said Cherry Abadilla, spokesperson of MEPZ Workers Alliance.
She added that the retrenchment were preceded by alleged terminations around June at the MEPZ companies Yuenthai and Kor Landa that affected 200 and 67 workers respectively.
Meanwhile, PM recently offered legal assistance to the grieving workers and appealed for assistance from the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) and DOLE on Sunday, September 6.
In a separate phone interview with Abadilla, she said that they have yet to meet with PEZA and DOLE for a dialogue on this matter.
Rappler contacted PEZA and DOLE to get their side through their hotlines but both agencies were unavailable throughout the day. – Rappler.com