Philippines: Labour groups call for wage subsidies for 200,000 workers in economic zones affected by COVID-19 lockdowns; Incl. brands' responses
Labour groups in the Philippines, including Partido Manggagawa, are calling on employers to pay wage subsidies of P10,000 per month (approx. USD199) to some 200,000 workers affected by the closure of special economic zones as a result of COVID-19 lockdowns. The closure of the Mactan Economic Zone due to a community-wide lockdown ordered by the authorities on 27 March 2020 has affected 100,000 workers, while a further 100,000 workers have been affected by the shutdown of the Cavite Economic Zone on 19 March.
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has launched a financial assistance program under which workers affected by COVID-19 lockdowns are eligible to receive a subsidy of P5,000. However, surveys of workers affected by the lockdown of the Cavite Economic Zone have revealed workers have not received the DOLE subsidy and are facing increasing difficulties due to the lack of support.
Labour groups say foreign investors in the economic zones - who have benefited from increased economic growth, tax breaks and other privileges for years while worker wages have remained stagnant - should bear temporary financial losses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Partido Manggagawa, with the exception of Electronics firm Fairchild Semiconductor (Philippines) Inc. - which has provided its employees with wages for 20 days while they are out of work - other employers in the Mactan Economic Zone are refusing to grant adequate assistance to workers. Among them is Sports City International, a garments conglomerate which supplies to global brands. adidas, New Balance, lululemon and Under Armour are publicly listed as buyers from facilities operated by Sports City International.
Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited adidas, New Balance, lululemon and Under Armour to respond to the situation facing workers in their supply chain in the Mactan Economic Zone. Responses from adidas, New Balance and lululemon are included below. Under Armour did not respond.