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Solon warns of more job losses, calls for one-stop shops for laid off workers

Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel called for the creation of one-stop shops where laid off Filipinos can easily claim separation insurance, apply for skills retooling and seek reemployment facilitation, as he warned that the pandemic-stricken economy is bound to shed more jobs in the months ahead.

“Government must provide physical locations plus a customized website where displaced workers can get all the help that they need from multiple agencies under one roof in just one stop,” Pimentel said.

“It pains us to see dismissed workers transacting tediously with multiple agencies to avail of assistance,” Pimentel said.

Pimentel urged the Social Security System (SSS), Public Employment Service Office (PESO), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and local government units (LGUs) to work together in putting up the one-stop shops.

The SSS provides unemployment insurance to all covered members who are involuntarily separated from their jobs due to retrenchment or downsizing, closure or cessation of operation or redundancy.

PESO is a non-fee charging employment agency that provides job referral and placement services. It is run by the Department of Labor and Employment and LGUs.

TESDA provides upskilling services to help displaced workers find new jobs or self-employment opportunities.

Banking and hotel jobs at risk

Pimentel sees more jobs losses in the months ahead, particularly in the banking and tourism industries.

“The bigger banks in particular might start reducing their headcount this year, once they get a better estimation of their bad loans,” Pimentel said.

The lawmaker said the suspension of loan repayments mandated by Congress last year made it difficult for banks to fully ascertain their non-performing loans.

“There’s no question the post-pandemic banking landscape will involve fewer brick-and-mortar branches, with more Filipinos performing transactions online,” Pimentel said.

He cited the case of the Bank of the Philippine Islands and wholly owned subsidiary BPI Family Savings Bank, which have decided to merge to streamline operations.

Pimentel also said a number of large hotels might follow in the footsteps of Makati Shangri-La, which has decided to temporarily close its doors starting Feb. 1.

“The bigger hotels and resorts with more financial resources deferred labor retrenchments throughout 2020. They might start cutting those jobs now,” Pimentel said.(Vina de Guzman)