Layoffs Feared

February 29, 2020

A LARGE labor group predicts that 7,000 workers will lose their jobs due to the new coronavirus or COVID-19 crisis in the next six months.

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines said these workers are from airlines, cruise ships, travel agencies and hotels and restaurants.

The TUCP lamented that more enterprises and companies have expressed their plans to lay-off or retrench workers as a consequence of the crisis that is now affecting many countries.

The Philippine Airlines, for instance, has been forced to let go of 300 administrative and management employees in a business restructuring program distressed by flight cancellations and travel ban on its key market.

“The PAL retrenchment program and the travel bans will trigger more layoffs in several of its supply chains that includes hotels, restaurants, land transport service, logistics, catering and other suppliers of the airlines. It is now inevitable that other airlines, to cope with the crisis, will also make similar retrenchments of non-essential jobs which will also affect workers down their supply chains,” TUCP President and TUCP Party-list Rep, Raymond Mendoza said.

In TUCP discussions with union leaders in other industries, they said the PAL retrenchment is just the beginning of the bigger adverse economic effect of the escalating COVID-19 phenomenon.

Aside from the airline industry, Mendoza said, the other type of workers who will be seriously  affected are those Filipino sea-based working on cruise and cargo ships due to a slump in sales as fallout from COVID-19 outbreak that grounded the Diamond Princess cruise ship and laid off more than 500 Filipino crew.

“Job orders for Filipino seafarers are zero. Other Filipino crew in other cruise ships are about to be sent home in the next few weeks including those with unexpired contract in case passenger bookings being monitored by ship operators and shipowners are unable to meet the number of passengers required for the trip,” Mendoza said.

The TUCP is urging shipowners and manning agencies to abide by their collective bargaining agreements with their unionized crew and make a reasonable retrenchment and separation package with those crew who doesn’t have contracts and collective bargaining agreement with them.

More land-based overseas Filipino workers working as teachers, drivers, entertainers, cooks, waiters, receptionists, and household service workers who will be hit by the economic slump in foreign countries will be coming back home.

On one hand, domestic enterprises and local companies indirectly affected but “feeling the heat” of the growing crisis by the outbreak of COVID-19 are taking steps to minimize the economic repercussion of the outbreak.

These coping measures include forced leaves, voluntary separation schemes, work from home arrangement and other operational cost-saving measures to avoid losses.