500 Maritime Workers
Laid Off -- DOLE
By Marie Nerie
Philstar, 02 August 2001

Some 500 workers in the maritime industry have been displaced for the first half of the year, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) reported yesterday.

Records from DOLE revealed that there are at least 15 companies that already filed notices of retrenchment from January to June 2001.

DOLE said that the reasons cited by the shipping firms implementing the retrenchment are the deteriorating economic conditions of the country and the unstable foreign exchange rate.

In an interview with Mr. Telesporo Solda of the Transit Management Inc., he admitted that the unfavorable business climate has forced them to lay off workers.

"It's a natural move of the company because of the economic crunch and you can see that its very obvious that the only way to cope with it is to implement measures that could help us preserve the company," Solda said.

Another factor which, Solda believed, contributed to the weakening performance of the shipping sector is the unsound policy of the government for the industry.

"There are several reasons within which we can connect the economic uncertainty but merely you can say that it is due to political instability, world economic effect and the lack of coherent policy of the government," Solda lamented.

According to Solda, shipping companies are now adopting cost cutting measures and alignment of activities to cushion the impact of the regional crisis.

Establishments that carried out retrenchment include Translift Ship Management Inc., Aboitiz Container Services Inc. and its trucking firm, Cargolift Baseco Shipyard Corp., and Commercial Freight Services Inc.

Other companies that earlier implemented a reduction of their workforce are Negros Navigation Company (NENACO), Deep Sea Fishing, Euarasian Manning Agency and Madrigal Ship Management.

Meanwhile, DOLE noted that the displacement is still within the manageable level compared to the retrenchment taking place at the manufacturing and services sector.

In fact, Labor Secretary Sto. Tomas stressed that the shipping firm was not badly hit by the crisis after deployment of seafarers increased to 2 percent during the first six months.

She added that remittances of the seafarers also help boost the economy as it posted revenue amounting $218 million for the first five months.


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