50 small firms want to close temporarily putting jobs at risk: labor chief


Posted at May 22 2020 11:06 AM | Updated as of May 22 2020 11:26 AM

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MANILA -- The labor department said Friday it was reviewing the appeal of about small 50 businesses to temporarily close due to losses from the coronavirus pandemic, putting at risk some 190,000 jobs. 

The 50 micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) include retail and tourism businesses that initially implemented a flexible work arrangement, said Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III. 

"Kaya lang nare-reduce iyong working hours nila, so bawas na bawas ang kanilang kita... They decided to temporarily close operations," he told DZMM. 

"Titingnan namin kung totoo bang nalulugi," he said. 

(However, this reduced their working hours so their revenue went down... We will verify their alleged losses.) 

Bello declined to name the companies, citing privacy issues. 

The pandemic has displaced some 2.5 million workers temporarily or permanently, the labor department earlier said. 

"Pinaka-nightmare namin ngayon how to protect employment," said Bello. 

(Our nightmare now is how to protect employment.) 

The labor department proposed a government subsidy that would shoulder 20 to 25 percent of salaries in MSMEs, he said. 

Labor officials also urged the public works and transportation departments to "fully implement" infrastructure projects that the pandemic stalled. Construction industry leaders were encourage to increase their work force by 10 to 20 percent for these, said Bello.

He said his agency's emergency employment program would offer 6-month jobs, up from 3 months. 

Most of the Philippines' urban centers including Metro Manila, which accounts for a third of gross domestic product, eased its 2-month lockdown over the weekend to reboot the shrinking economy and stop job losses.

The so-called modified enhanced community quarantine will end on May 31.