Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Friday, February 06, 2009

700 Filipinos lose jobs as FedEx leaves Subic

MANILA - More than 700 Filipinos lost their jobs Friday as US-based Federal Express (FedEx), the world’s largest air-cargo shipper, ended its operation in the Philippines after 13 years.

As the last FedEx flight took off from the Subic Bay International Airport, fears mounted that an unprecedented jobs crisis loomed in the country as some 900,000 new graduates and job seekers will enter the labor force in April.

They will join some 236,000 displaced workers expected within the first semester, according to group Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research, Inc. (Eiler). To cut cost amid the worsening global economic crisis, FedEx had decided to relocate its Asia-Pacific hub operations to Guangzhou, China.

FedEx operated in the Philippines since May 1995, signing a lease contract in Subic that was supposed to expire in 2010. But it opted to end the contract earlier, vacating its 300,000-square foot facility at the Subic free port.

“With the alarming increase in local layoffs as well as migrant workers displacement and the new entrants to the labor force of new graduates and job seekers, the jobs crisis will reach unprecedented levels in the next few months and will further exacerbate poverty in the country,” said Paul Quintos, executive director of Eiler.
Unemployment and underemployment in the Philippines is already pegged at 10.7 million last year, according to Ibon Foundation.

According to Quintos, over a million Filipino workers are in the “firing line.” Most of them work for foreign multinational companies in the export processing and special economic zones nationwide.

Most vulnerable to retrenchments are workers from the garments, electronics and automotive industry. There are 172, 907 workers in the garments industry, 212, 325 workers in the electronics industry, and 17,049 workers in the automotive industry according to the Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics.

Likewise, thousands of workers in the mining industry, agricultural workers in copra, coconut, and pineapple plantations and other sectors engaged in export will also be affected.

About 590,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are also vulnerable to spiraling unemployment worldwide. These include some 129,000 OFWs in US who only have temporary visas; 130,000 seafarers in cruise ships; 268,000 factory workers in South Korea, Taiwan and Macau; and 48,000 domestic workers in Hong Kong , Singapore and Macau according to the Department of Labor and Employment. - SG

By Jay Gotera

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