DAVAO CITY Davao companies agreed to send out early warning signals just in case they will have to resort to retrenchments and company shutdown as the impact of the world wide recession will start to be felt in the region.

Simeon Marfori, president of the Davao city Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCCII), made this commitment in a memorandum of agreement with the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) October.

The early warning system is part of the contingency plan initiated by Dole to deal with the projected increase in unemployment if companies will have a hard time dealing with the crisis. It will allow the government to draw up possible employment and livelihood options to workers affected, said Lawyer Jalilo dela Torre, Dole regional director.

Ofelia Domingo, Dole assistant regional director, said that Dole normally required companies to report retrenchments and shutdowns 30 days before they happen. “Now, we cannot wait for the 30-day notice anymore, the companies have to report to us as soon as possible so that the government can draw up emergency plans.”

Dole estimates some 590,000 overseas Filipino workers most vulnerable to lose their jobs because of the US financial crisis. They included some 129,000 OFWs working in the US under temporary working visas; 130,000 seafarers in cruise ships; 268,000 factory workers in South Korea, Taiwan and Macau; and 48,000 domestic helpers in Singapore, Macau and Hongkong.

But Dela Torre said only 50,000 to 100,000 overseas Filipino workers will be affected in Southern Mindanao. He said that the government has allotted some P250 million contingency funds to assist displaced workers nationwide. Among the possible measures will be “skill re-tooling” to allow the displaced workers to qualify for the 90,000 skilled jobs demanded in Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Norway.

Of the 1.79 million in the labor force registered in Southern Mindanao as of July this year, 119,000 are unemployed. Failing to find enough job opportunities here, some 8.76 million workers left the country in 2007 to work abroad, bringing in remittances worth US$14.4 billion in 2007 alone.

But aside from its direct impact on the jobs overseas, the worldwide recession will also impact on jobs in vulnerable commodity exports, including garments, 77.5 per cent of which depend on the US as main market; electronics, 13.4 per cent; wiring, 39.3 per cent; and coconut oil, 41.7 per cent.

Dole estimates over 605,411 workers in 2,380 companies directly exporting to the US, Japan, Hongkong and China as their major markets. Of the total, 120,000 workers are in garment factories; 111,000 workers in electronics; 2,000 in wiring and 2,000 in coconut oil factories.

Workers in these industries will most likely experience job rotation, reduced working hours, reduced income, retrenchments and lay offs and a possible freeze in hiring as companies struggle to wither the crisis, according to the Dole report. (Germelina Lacorte/davaotoday.com)

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