- By Samuel P. Medenilla @sam_medenilla

THE number of establishm­ents in Metro Manila with reduced workforce more than doubled a week after the government announced the region will be placed under a two-week lockdown, according to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

In an television interview on Thursday, Labor Assistant Secretary Dominique R. Tutay noted that the number of National Capital Region (NCR) employers, reporting for the period from July 30 to August 4 and who said they will be implementi­ng flexible work arrangemen­ts such as reduced work hours or job rotation, had risen to 178.

A total of 5,322 workers will be affected by the work schemes,

This was significan­tly higher compared to the 80 establishm­ents with 2,675 employees on July 30, when the government declared NCR will be placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ ) from August 6 to 20, 2021.

Tutay explained most of the flexible work arrangemen­ts in NCR, which were reported to DOLE, will start on Friday, the first day of the ECQ to be implemente­d by the government to contain the rise in Covid-19 cases in the region.

“At the ground level, you would already see the impact of the ECQ announceme­nt. For instance, many stores in the food courts in malls already stopped their operations,” Tutay told Businessmi­rror in a Viber message.

Long-term impact

SHE said the number of establishm­ents taking such reduction options could increase further even after the ECQ.

“The impact of the two weeks of lockdown [on the employment sector] will be significan­t. And if this will be followed by a MECQ (modified ECQ), which is the usual track after an ECQ , many establishm­ents and workers will still have a difficult time [to recover],” Tutay said.

DOLE earlier said it expected at least 127,000 workers to be displaced with the latest round of ECQ in the country’s capital.

Tutay said this will be on top of the 300,000 workers who were permanentl­y or temporaril­y displaced by their 6,000 employers from January to July.

Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III, however, remains hopeful the labor force in NCR can recover with government assistance, which includes financial aid from local government units (LGU) and emergency employment from DOLE.

He reiterated his appeal to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to grant DOLE’S request for an additional P2 billion, which DOLE hopes to use to finance its Covid-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP).

CAMP is a one-time P5,000 financial assistance given by DOLE to displaced formal sector workers.

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