Reports of mass lay offs filled the news as companies face the threat of bankruptcy due to the crisis wrought by Duterte’s almost 3-month lockdown.
Companies have successively expressed their intent to retrench their workers. Among these are the Bank of Philippine Islands which announced it will retire 1,286 employees who are 50 years and older.
Cebu Pacific is also planning to retrench 1,000 of its ground crew who are outsourced from the 1Aviation Services Corp., on top of the 400 who were laid earlier in April. The Philippine Airlines and Air Asia will also retrench 564 workers. About 400 workers of Victory Liner are set to lose their jobs. Okada Manila also announced it will lay off 1,000 workers.
In Davao City, approximately 200,000 workers will lose their jobs as more than 10,000 companies expressed their intent to reduce their respective workforces.
Worst unemployment in history
The Department of Labor and employment reported that more than 2,000 companies with a total workforce of 69,000 closed down since the lockdown.
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) also published a survey this June stating that the total number of unemployed has reached 7.3 million in April, bringing the unemployment rate to 17.7%. The number of unemployed is more than thrice higher than the 2.4 million recorded in January.
Ibon Foundation, however, said that the actual number of unemployed is 14 million, and the unemployment rate is actually 22%. These figures were derived by adding the number of discouraged workers and those who lost their jobs during the lockdown who were dropped by the PSA its computations.
In sum, there are 20.4 million unemployed and underemployed Filipinos during the said period, which is the highest in history.
Amid worsening crisis, the regime fast-tracked the implementation of more neoliberal policies to futher exploit workers and ensure the maximum profit of capitalists.
On May 16, the Department of Labor and Employment issued Labor Advisory 17 which allowed employers to retrench their workers, cut salaries and benefits, compress working hours and days, and implement various flexible labor schemes. This includes the “work from home” arrangement which is being used by employers to cut the salaries of workers in half.
Earlier on May 7, the department issued Department Order 213 which suspended the conduct of inspections in work places which is a requisite in ensuring safety as the economy reopened. It also suspended all activities related to union work which effectively suppressed the right of workers to redress grievances.
Meanwhile, the Bureau of Internal Revenue issued a memorandum requiring self-employed individuals or those who run online businesses to register with the agency. Applicants are expected to spend at P2,260 for the registration alone. Through this, those earning more than P20,833 per month will be charged a tax of 20%. Many workers who lost their jobs during the lockdown shifted to this sector to earn a living.