Crisis forces big firms to rule out wage hikes this year

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 09 2009 01:19 PM | Updated as of Feb 09 2009 09:19 PM

Many big export-oriented companies are freezing pay increases, bonuses and other benefits this year to trim costs amid the global economic crisis, according to Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) chair Miguel Valera.

At the sidelines of an employment forum in Malacañang, Valera said there was no way that companies belonging to industries like electronics and garments could raise employee wages and benefits this year as they struggle to keep their businesses afloat.

Valera noted that companies have been looking for ways to cut costs to prevent massive layoffs.

Thousands of workers in the country's export processing zones are at risk of losing their jobs as their employers suffer from a drastic decline in demand.

Malacañang thus urged companies to sort out the issue of shelving salary increases and benefits this year to mitigate the impact of the downturn.

It said the government, for its part, has deployed several initiatives to provide aid to companies and workers that have been affected by the current crisis.

These include fuel subsidies for firms transporting workers in the export processing zones, a ready credit line for struggling companies, the establishment of a P1 billion fund for displaced overseas and domestic workers who want to put up their own ventures, and a skills training program for laid off workers.

Apart from these, the Arroyo government also announced the pooling of jobs in the environment sector under a program called Green Collar Jobs. This means more workers will be hired for regreening of uplands, coastal and bay clean-up, and jathropa farming.

About 6,000 jobs, meanwhile, are expected to be created when the government's poverty mapping program is implemented this year. With a report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News