About 30% of the Philippines garment workforce is expected to be furloughed until the end of the year due to weak demand caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, an industry group has said.
Factories have had to adhere to enhanced safety protocols, forcing them to work on marked downtime, according to the Confederation of Wearable Exporters of the Philippines.
Local reports quote executive director Maritess Agoncillo, as saying: “We are trying our best to maintain status quo within the work force. Since capacity for third quarter is projected to be down at 40%, we expect around 20% to 30% of regular workers may be on furlough until end-year.”
In order to deal with sluggish demand and save jobs, some factories have repurposed their operations to produce medical-grade personal protective equipment, while others are working on a rotational basis so employees get at least two weeks’ worth of pay, according to the reports.
The repurposing programme is understood to have attracted US$35m in investments and saved upwards of 7,400 jobs to date, but the cost of operating in the ‘new normal’ has increased and factories have to complete with imports.
Of the factories still operating, most are said to be functioning at 40% to 50% of their capacity.
Unions in the country said in June that more than 20,000 workers in the textile, garment and leather goods sector have been laid-off due to the Covid-19 pandemic and callled for tripartite social partners to come up with a coherent and realistic recovery plan.