30% of garment workers to remain jobless till Dec.

Published August 20, 2020, 6:00 AM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

 As much as 30 percent of regular workers of the garment and wearables sector, which employ 180,000 Filipinos, are expected to remain jobless until the end of this year.

 “We expect around 20-30 percent of regular workers may be on furlough until end year,” said  Maritess Jocson-Agoncillo, executive director of the Confederation of Wearable Exporters of the Philippines (CONWEP), as she noted that their manufacturing capacity for the third quarter is projected at 40 percent lower.

 Agoncillo, however said, ”We are trying our best to manage displacement brought about by the pandemic.”

 To help retain jobs, she said a few factories have repurposed their facilities to produce medical grade personal protective equipment (PPEs). Some factories also adapted rotational work basis, allowing the pool of available workers to report to work for at least 2 weeks.  “It may not be enough but at least a worker earns half of the base salary within a month,” Agoncillo said.

Most firms are still operating but at 40-50 percent capacity only, she said.

Companies that have repurposed their factories to produce medical grade COVID-19 personal protective equipment (PPEs), face masks, and coveralls, invested a total of $35 million and saved 7,450 workers, who were supposed to be laid off due to the weakening of the economy.

This was reported both by CONWEP and the newly formed Confederation of Philippine Manufacturers on PPEs (CPMP) to Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez.

In March this year, the DTI requested export manufacturing firms from both the garments and electronics industry to repurpose a portion of their factory to produce PPEs such as medical grade N95, N88 masks as well as medical grade seam sealed coveralls, isolation gowns, head and shoe covers. Five firms heeded the call, including Medtecs International Corp. Ltd., EMS Components Assembly Inc.,

Reliance Producers Cooperative, Luen Thai International Group Philippines, Inc., and Tacca Industries Pty Ltd from Australia. These firms also formed the group CPMP.

To date, CPMP has consolidated monthly production capacity of over 57 million pieces of masks and 3 million pieces of coveralls and isolation gowns for the protection of medical frontliners. The CPMP re-purposing initiative saved 7,450 jobs during this pandemic with combined investments of over $35 million during the last 3 months.

“We are proud to announce that all products produced by the CPMP group passed the highest standard requirements. All test certifications were performed by various 3rd party international laboratories testing facilities for PPE, such as Intertek, UL and SGS. All CPMP products are medical-grade and will be produced in FDA-certified local factories with FDA (Philippines) License to Operate clean room facilities,” said Agoncillo and CPMP Executive Director Rosette Carillo.

 
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