About 30 percent of garments workers in the Philippines are expected to be on furlough until the end of the year due to weak demand resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Confederation of Wearable Exporters of the Philippines, which recently said garments factories are operating at marked downtime to comply with safety protocols.
“We are trying our best to maintain the status quo within the workforce. Since capacity for [the] third quarter is projected to be down at 40 percent, we expect around 20 percent to 30 percent of regular workers may be on furlough until end-year,” Maritess Agoncillo, executive-director of the confederation, said.
Agoncillo said to cope with sluggish demand, several factories repurposed their operations to produce medical-grade personal protective equipment in response to the government’s request to locally produce the PPEs and save jobs.
She said other factories adopted a rotational work basis, allowing workers to report to work for at least two weeks, according to a Philippine newspaper report. She said of the factories still operating, most are at 40 percent to 50 percent of their capacity.
Agoncillo said the trade body is finalizing its report on the costs of operating in the ‘new normal’ and its impact on operations and profitability.
She added that factories that agreed to repurpose their operations had to compete with imports. The repurposing program attracted $35 million in investments and saved 7,450 jobs amid the weakening of the global economy, she said.