[ Malaya.com.ph ] April 14, 2009
BY IRMA ISIP
Job losses in companies located in the economic zones have slowed down after a slew of retrenchments in the beginning of the year, and some locators are even beginning to rehire.
According to Lilia B. de Lima, director-general of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), 62 companies from the zones are rehiring and are in immediate need of 4,900 workers.
As of March 16, the number of retrenched workers from the zones stood at 17,665.
In the information technology sector where job generation is still up, De Lima said companies which expanded in November and December are now beefing up their workforce.
De Lima said that for the past two weeks, PEZA has not been getting any reports from their zones of locators retrenching workers. A wave of layoffs started in January particularly in the semiconductor and electronics Industry.
De Lima said companies in the electronic’s sector which have retrenched workers who were later trained with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) are gearing up for reordering.
Based on PEZA data, the global financial crisis has affected 274 companies in 41 ecozones being supervised by the PEZA.
About 85 of these companies retrenched workers.
So far, only one PEZA company shut down, Intel Technology Philippines Inc., affecting some 3,000 workers. Intel is located at the Gateway Business Park in Cavite.
Another 1,750 workers of Fujitsu Computer Products Corp. of the Philippines lost their jobs due to lower demand for hard disc drives. Fujitsu is located at Carmelray Industrial Park in Calamba, Laguna.
Between October 2008 and March 16, 2009, some 55 companies in the ecozones undertook temporary shutdowns of anywhere from one month to 6 months.
By this time, De Lima said, some of these companies have reopened but did not disclose details.
De Lima said out of the 4,900 new jobs needed, half would be for the information technology industry and the other half for manufacturing mostly in the electronics sector.
Rehiring has begun as early as February and recruitment should be complete within the next three to six months.
De Lima said Toshiba Digital Media Co. alone needs 618 workers for the expansion of its operations in Laguna Technopark.
In one board meeting last month, about 1,305 workers would be required by the companies which registered their projects. PEZA did not disclose the details.
De Lima said the expansion of some electronics companies, although smaller in amount, has yet to reflect their job recruitment.
Gestation for employment is three to six months from the time the companies get their PEZA approval.
Employment stood at 608,057 at end 2008, higher by 2.52 percent from 2007. Of that only 166,159 are in IT and the bigger bulk are in manufacturing.
As of December 2008, there were 1,956 companies operating in 183 ecozones
Following the wave of retrenchments, PEZA set up a one-stop shop for economic zone workers displaced by the crisis to help them look for other employment opportunities.
All public zones (Baguio , Cavite , Mactan and Bataan) now have the PEZA One-Stop Workers’ Assistance Center (POSWAC) while four private zones in Calabarzon have clustered to be serviced by one POSWAC.
De Lima also said workers particularly in the electronics industry have also been retraining.
De Lima also said PEZA strengthened its assistance with industries affected by the crisis to gauge their projections and match them with that of the agency’s engaging industry players in one-on-one dialogues.
"We have not stopped telling investors that government continues to support them," she said.
Aside from training, PEZA links up with displaced ecozone workers to new and expanding locator companies that are open for hiring but also with other government agencies tasked to provide training, livelihood and credit assistance for affected workers.
As of the first quarter, PEZA registered a 50 percent drop in investments to P13.6 billion and a decline of 5.9 percent in job generation to 564,547.