Pandemic leaves 6,000 jobless in Cordillera
BAGUIO CITY, Benguet, Philippines — The seven-month quarantine has left more than 6,000 workers in Cordillera jobless as businesses continue to wrestle with the full impact of a recession, a top labor official said here on Wednesday.
But displaced workers may learn new skills as the growth of enterprises resilient to the impact of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) open up job opportunities, said Exequiel de Guzman, director of the Department of Labor and Employment in the Cordillera.
No-contact protocols in the Philippines and abroad now require digital services for marketing and distribution that would expand business process outsourcing (BPO) clientele, he said. Home-based online retailers have also multiplied.
Citing government data, De Guzman said 942 establishments in the region had adopted flexible work arrangements with 19,453 workers to remain afloat.But 144 establishments retrenched 5,903 workers, while 20 businesses permanently closed shop, leaving 131 workers in limbo, he said.
He said 393 companies reduced the workdays of 9,857 workers, while 205 employers enforced rotational work hours for their 4,400 workers.
A total of 3,019 workers in 257 enterprises went on forced leave between March and October. But 1,489 workers in 87 establishments have been allowed to work from home and continue to receive their salaries.
A total of 4,238 businesses reported temporary closures during the health crisis that started in March and affected 58,569 workers. The government has distributed subsidies for employees affected by the lockdown but may need P300 million more to help 50,000 “unserved” workers, De Guzman said.
The BPO industry in the region has begun hiring new workers, starting with 800 recruits, and planned to hire 500 more, he said.
In Central Luzon, the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx) Corp. is hiring more than 1,500 technical and skilled workers, including repatriated overseas Filipino workers, to complete its 8-kilometer connector.
The elevated road will connect NLEx to South Luzon Expressway (SLEx) by the end of 2021.
Once completed, the P23-billion connector will cut travel time from NLEx to SLEx from two hours to 20 minutes, according to J. Luigi Bautista, NLEx Corp. president and general manager.
—Reports from Vincent Cabreza and Carmela Reyes-Estrope
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