03/30/2009, 00.00
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World economic crisis causing lay-offs and pay cuts

by Santosh Digal
Almost 12,000 people permanently lost their job from October 2008 to March 2009; another 39,000 lost it temporarily; and 59,000 are on flexible work arrangements. For the Philippines’ Labour undersecretary the crisis is already bottoming out with the economy starting to pick up in June of this year.
Manila (AsiaNews) – The world economic slowdown is hitting workers hard in terms of jobs and wages. As of now more than 121,000 Filipino workers have either lost their jobs, suffered pay cuts or have had to cut their work loads on account of the economic crisis, Labour Undersecretary Rosalinda Baldoz said. However, her government expects the crisis to bottom out over the next few months.

Between October last year and mid-March of this, 11,574 workers permanently lost their jobs and 38,806 others were temporarily laid off by Philippines-based companies, this according to Filipino government sources

The crisis also forced employers to place a total of 59,149 workers on flexible work arrangements.

Philippines-based Electronics firms were particularly hit, forcing them to give their remaining workers half-pay or 150 pesos (US$ 3.11 dollars) a day in a bid to keep them employed until demand picks up again.

The crisis has also touched about 10 per cent of the workforce in the automotive, garments, mining, property, services, and woodworking industries.

But the worst should be over by mid-year, the Labour undersecretary said.

In fact in mid-March an average of 397 workers were losing their job each day compared to 437 at the start of the month.

“Before the first semester ends, we could say that the worst is over,” she explained. “In the next five months, workers' displacements will continue but we expect it to be on a slower pace and only in the export manufacturing sector.”

Although the government is optimistic, expecting things to turn around rather quickly, the question now is whether its expectations will be born out by the facts.

In recent weeks independent organisations have in fact challenged government figures.

Whilst the authorities have reported 18,000 people losing their job in recent weeks for a total of 2.9 millions, a January 2009 survey by the Ibon Foundation, an independent think-tank, said that the real rate of unemployment stood at 11.2 per cent, not 7.7 per cent.

In addition to more than 4 million unemployed, the country’s workforce also includes 6.2 million underemployed people as well as employees seeking a better paying job.

Overall the total number of Filipinos without a job or a secure job stands at 10.6 million out of a population of more than 88 million.

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