In the wake of downsizing at Mitsubishi Motor Philippines Corp., (MMPC) the Philippine Metalworkers Alliance (PMA) yesterday said government should reallocate part of the P27-billion incentives given to car companies under the Comprehensive Automotive Resurgence Strategy (CARS) as subsidies to displaced workers.
PMA’s statement comes after the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has agreed to look into the request of CARS participants MMPC and Toyota Motor Philippines Corp. (TMP) for a reprieve in meeting their production requirements under the program.
“The PMA urges the government to carefully consider the employment implications of granting reprieve to CARS beneficiaries. Granting such reprieve will only incentivize car manufacturers to pursue mass termination of workers, encourage reliance on imports, and defeat the objectives of making domestic car production competitive,” PMA president Ruel Punzalan said in a statement yesterday.
Punzalan described as an injustice the continued practice of the automotive industry to import completely built up (CBU) units rather than expand local production.
“To start repairing the injustice, allocating a portion of the budget for the CARS program to provide social amelioration to those already displaced would be a good start,” he said.
Some 100 MMPC workers have lost their jobs as of Oct. 16, 2020, including those who were offered early retirement in August, according to Ray Rasing, PMA secretary-general.
Rasing said the incentives under CARS are also tied to job generation yet one of the participants is laying off workers
MMPC in 2018 also terminated the employment of about 400 workers.
“With another wave of termination scheduled, it does not look like the said CARS beneficiary is trying its best to increase production. It is more likely, however, that such move will be followed by increase in imports of CBUs,” said Punzalan.
But at the Laging Handa public briefing yesterday, DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez said the layoff is due to lower sales as an offshoot of the pandemic.
Lopez said granting social amelioration to the affected workers can be proposed to the government.
Under the CARS Program, created under Executive Order 182, government will support the two companies to the tune of P9 billion each — no one applied for the third slot — in exchange for “new investments in body shell assembly and large plastic parts assemblies,” production of “no lower than 200,000 vehicles.”
In an Aug. 17, 2020 letter to the Bureau of Labor Relations, union leaders in the automotive sector called for the continuance of the safeguard measures investigation by the DTI to curb the proliferation of imported cars as well as the enactment of a law that will require purchase by government agencies of locally manufactured vehicles in support of the CARS.
The groups also pushed for the imposition of a wealth tax equivalent to 1 percent levied on savings, securities and equities that will generate about P300 billion which can be used to finance the recovery program. (I. Isip)