Struggling Through Difficult Times

Both have families already and are having difficulties making both ends meet – with each, in the past few months, receiving a salary amounting to no more than P1,500 ($31.58). Redondo is just fortunate that his wife also works, and he himself occasionally finds extra work by fishing or driving a pedicab.

Rapiñan has nothing to fall back on and is the only breadwinner in his family of four. “Napakahirap” (It is very difficult), Rapiñan said of how life is for them at the moment.

Aquino, Eguna, Redondo, and Rapiñan are just four of the thousands of workers at the CEPZ who either have lost their jobs or have been made to work for reduced working hours. The managements of their companies have all cited the global economic crisis as the reason for the retrenchments and reduction of working hours.

The CEPZ workers are not the only ones who have been made to bear the brunt of the global crisis.

Based on data gathered by the Pagkakaisa ng mga Manggagawa sa Timog Kagalugan (Pamantik or Unity of Workers in Southern Tagalog), thousands of workers have already lost their jobs in the electronics and car manufacturing sectors in the Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon) area in the last four months.

Amkor Technology, Inc. laid off 3,000 of its workers last September and another 2,000 are to be retrenched this month. Integrated Microelectronics, Inc. removed 3,000 of its workers last December, and has also implemented a forced leave leading to retrenchment to 1,000 more effective for the period December 2008-May 2009.

Other companies, notably Toyota Motor Philippines and Keihin Philippines, have begun implementing compressed work months.

And these are just some of the reported cases.

Government data show that in the last two months alone, some 15,000 workers all over the country have been laid off as a result of the crisis, while 19,000 have been made to work for reduced working hours. The government estimates that anywhere from 300,000 to 800,000 more are in danger of losing their jobs this year.

In a forum a few months ago, Paul Quintos, executive director of the Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER) and a London School of Economics (LSE)-trained economist, cited the export-processing zones as among the sectors particularly vulnerable to the effects of the global economic crisis.

He said the crisis could lead to a slump in the export of goods. He noted that around 18 percent of the country’s exports go directly to the US, while up to 70 percent are indirectly dependent on the US, as well as the European Union or EU markets, through the export of intermediate goods to TNC (transnational corporation) subcontractors in China, Taiwan, Korea, the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), and others for assembly into final goods.

With the US, which dominates the world economy, in a deep crisis, the effects of this crunch have spread to other countries including the Philippines – affecting the likes of Aquino, Eguna, Redondo, and Rapiñan who are now struggling to simply live through the difficult times. (

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