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Dec 16, 2008

80 retrenched from car firm in Philippines

The problems besetting the ailing automotive industry in the US appeared to have spilled over to the workers of a company in the Mactan Economic Zone I, here in Lapu-Lapu City.

At least 80 workers of Lear Automotive Services (Netherlands) B.V. in Mactan Economic Zone I, have become the latest casualties in the global economic crisis after the company retrenched them.

The workers, alleging they were not given prior notice by the management, went to the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) on Tuesday to file complaints for illegal dismissal and harassment.

The workers, some having served the company from 10 to 18 years, also asked for full back wages, moral exemplary damages and reinstatement.

Fe Cabigon, administrative officer of the NLRC 7 based in Cebu City, said on Tuesday the labor case was already raffled off to labor arbiter Philip Montances who scheduled hearings for January 13 and 15, 2009.

Cabigon said the workers only learned about the retrenchment on December 12 when the company told them they would be removed from their jobs due to the global economic crisis.

An insider of the company, who asked for anonymity, said the demand for the company's products abroad dropped by 76 percent.

The source said one of the company's clients, Chrysler LLC, was badly affected by the recession that hit the US. Their other clients were Ford Motor Company and Nissan.

The source added that the retrenched workers might reach 300. The company has over 4,000 workers.

However, the Lear management refused to give an official statement.

Amabel Abella, human resources officer of Lear, said the company did not issue an official statement on Tuesday but said the firm would reply to the workers’ complaints as of the moment but they would answer the issue in the proper forum.

"We have already submitted all our reports to DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment), according to the procedure," Abella said on Tuesday.

But Abella said the retrenched workers did not reach 300. "If there is really a complaint, we will deal with it in DOLE," Abella added.

Michael Patalinghug, 41, and father of four children from Babag, Lapu-Lapu City, was among the retrenched workers even if he had worked there for 14 years.

Patalinghug said the workers were caught by surprise when Abella and plant manager Gemma Cabasay informed the workers gathered inside the training hall Friday last week they would be let go.

The company offered them separation pay of 50 percent of their salary for every year of service, an offer that many had accepted, he said.

Patalinghug said he received P35,000 separation fee, which was quite small considering that he worked in the company for 14 years.

Patalinghug, whose youngest child is only three years old, said he did not know how to support his family.

"It's so painful. Who would like a life without a job? Our problem is how to start a business using the P35,000," he said.

Source : Inquirer
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