Gloomy business condition forces MEZ apparel firms to retrench
Some 4,000 workers at the Mactan Economic Zone (MEZ) in Cebu province stand to lose their jobs after five garment companies announced they would have to lay off at least 25 percent of their employees.
The affected firms—Mactan Apparels Inc, Metro Wear, Inc., Globalwear Manufacturing Inc., Feeder Apparel Corporation, and Vertex One Apparel Phils—temporarily ceased operations during the height of the pandemic and resumed only when the restrictions were eased.
With several of the displaced workers based in Lapu-Lapu City, the city council has asked the Department of Social Welfare and Development to provide assistance to retrenched workers.
“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,” read the city council resolution authored by Council Annabeth Cuizon.
The five apparel companies said the effects of the pandemic as well as the global recession forced them to implement a retrenchment program and keep only at least 75 percent of their workforce.
“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,” the firms said in a statement.
However, they promised to release the separation pay of the affected workers as well as other benefits due them.
“The sudden dropping and reduction of orders from our clients while increasing operational costs left us to face head-on to deal with the economic struggles and financial shortage thus, our company perceived objectively and in good faith the need to downsize our current manpower through retrenchment program,” the firms said.
Cuizon, for her part, asked the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) and the Public Employment Services Office (PESO) to profile the retrenched workers from the five MEZ locators and assist them in finding new jobs.
PESO head Kim Francisco said this is the biggest retrenchment in Lapu-Lapu City since the pandemic started.
Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Junard Chan said he has already sought the help of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority to extend livelihood training to the displaced workers.
In a separate statement, Partido Manggagawa-Cebu spokesman Dennis Derige described the mass layoff as “alarming.”
“For the biggest MEZ employer to retrench 1/4 of its workers may be a portent of worse things to come,” Derige said.
He urged the government to countercheck the claims of the companies that there has been a sudden drop in orders from their clients.
“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,” Derige said.