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Philippine Business, Labor Agree

November 3, 1998

MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ Philippine employers signed an agreement Tuesday with labor groups to limit layoffs in exchange for restraint in strikes to lessen the effects of the regional financial crisis.

The ``social accord,″ effective for a year, was signed at the presidential palace by the Employers’ Confederation of the Philippines and labor groups headed by the moderate Trade Union Congress of the Philippines and the militant Labor Advisory and Consultative Council.

ECOP President Miguel Varela said the agreement, witnessed by President Joseph Estrada, allows management and labor to share ``sacrifices for the common objective of sustaining the viability of business and at the same time protecting the jobs of workers during these trying times.″

Estrada said the accord is the first of its kind in the Philippines and will encourage more foreign investment in the country.

TUCP President Democrito Mendoza said the agreement does not ban workers from work stoppages but only ``commits them to resort to strikes sparingly.″

Alberto Fenix, president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the agreement represents the ``changing mind set of employers and a less confrontational labor.″

The agreement, which is renewable by mutual consent, is intended to cope with the effects of the economic slowdown caused by the Asian currency crisis that began in July last year.

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