SBMA opens help desk for displaced workers

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THE Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) has launched an information and support system to help displaced workers in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone (SBFZ) and nearby areas find new jobs or develop new skills to gain re-employment.

The SBMA help desk, which is manned by personnel of the SBMA Labor Department’s Manpower Services Division, is located at the former Landbank office near the Freeport’s Rizal Gate.

“This is a very important tool in providing new means of livelihood for displaced workers, especially those from the neighboring communities of Olongapo City, Zambales and Bataan,” said SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma.

Eisma pointed out that workers from Zambales lost a total of 1,839 jobs last year because of the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, while those from Bataan lost 899.

These came about because of company retrenchment and business closures last year that resulted to a total of 5,510 job losses in Subic. These included 3,910 in manufacturing, 717 in shipbuilding and maritime-related projects, and 883 in construction.

“We have to do all that we can to restore lost economic opportunities because workers are among those who are very vulnerable under the prolonged effects of this pandemic,” Eisma said. “We need to build not just physical strength and immunity, but also the community’s financial capacity to withstand this health crisis.”

According to lawyer Melvin Varias, manager of the SBMA Labor Department, the SBMA Help Desk will assist workers who were retrenched or put on forced leave during the pandemic in gaining re-employment or retooling and retraining to land new jobs.

For this, the SBMA has partnered with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), he said.

The SBMA Help Desk was launched on March 26 with TESDA-Zambales director Melanie Grace Romero, DTI-Zambales OIC director Enrique Tacbad, DOLE-Zambales chief labor employment officer Reynante Lugtu, as well as SBMA senior deputy administrator Ramon Agregado.

“With the SBMA Help Desk, we would have a database of profiles of displaced workers, and then we can endorse their application to companies needing manpower, or refer them to other agencies for skills training,” Varias said.

He said that workers can send in their qualification profile by filling up the profiling form that can be accessed through this link: https://forms.gle/q6LqF6sVcUDDxeJV9.

The SBMA Labor Department would also answer queries through telephone at 047-252-4273 or 4073, Varias added.

In her recent State of the Freeport Address, Chairman Eisma said that despite the lingering effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the SBMA had approved 69 new investment projects, as well as 11 expansion plans last year, thus creating a total of 946 new jobs.

This year, close to 4,000 new jobs are projected to be generated by new investment projects, although overall employment is seen to decline to 135,773, or by almost 2.3% from 138,966 last year.

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