Semiconductor unions welcome $100 Billion US Investment; Labor group hopeful of labor protection

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Electronics and semiconductor unions of the Federation of Free Workers (FFW) welcomed and expressed strong support for the recently announced US$100 billion investment of the United States in the Philippines, saying the  electronics and semiconductor industry will have a substantial  part of it.

The FFW stated that the investment is expected to significantly bolster the local and global technological landscapes, adding that this investment, “coupled with commitments to enhance labor protection, promises substantial economic and social benefits.”

Jun Mendoza Ramirez, vice president of the FFW, noted the pressing challenges of job losses within the sector last year and early this year as 120 workers were retrenched in their workplace.

WELCOME DEVELOPMENT

“This US investment is a welcome development that promises to rejuvenate our industry and restore and create numerous decent job opportunities for our skilled workforce,” stated Ramirez, who is also the union president at Vishay Philippines, Inc., a Taguig City-based electronics manufacturing firm.

He added: “It is important for workers to make the most out of these investments. That would only be possible if we exercise oversight functions, such as in tripartite bodies in ecozones where these new multinational companies are sure to locate. Incentives for these new investments, for example, should be provided to those who respect labor rights—especially the right to unionize.”

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Arta Maines, union president of the Biñan-based United Cirtek Employees Association-FFW, emphasized the positive impact expected for female workers at Cirtek Electronics Corporation in Laguna. “Most of us are women, this new investment will not only help our industry recover but, we are hopeful, that it will also ensure that women workers will have living wages,” Maines explained.

Adding to those perspectives, Alex Navoa, Union President of the Amkor Technology Phils Inc. Employees Union-FFW, highlighted the broader implications for labor rights.

“We are hoping to see growth in our union membership as we continue to support the economic growth of the Philippines. We welcome the trilateral leaders’ pronouncement on labor protection,” Navoa said, reflecting a growing optimism about improving labor conditions alongside industrial growth.

STRATEGIC VALUE

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. earlier reinforced the strategic value of this initiative, which aligns with the objectives of the CHIPS and Science Act’s International Technology Security and Innovation Fund.

“The expansion of semiconductor investments in the Philippines will strengthen supply chain resiliency among our three nations,” Marcos stated.

The President also emphasized the collaborative efforts with the United States to develop and expand the Philippine semiconductor workforce, thus strengthening the global supply chain.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), there are at present about three million workers employed directly and indirectly in the electronics (27%) and semiconductor (73%) industries. Almost 60% of Philippine export come from these industry sectors. Some 11% and 6% of these go to the United States and Japan, respectively.

One of the challenges to workers’ security of tenure in this industry is the rampant contracting-out and labor-only contracting schemes employed by companies.

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