Wistron to re-open Subic plant

JOB APPLICANTS. More than 4,000 applicants were processed during the two-day schedule of exams and job interviews with 900 workers passing the qualifiers on the first day alone. SubicBayNews photos by Iya G. Oliva

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — Wistron Infocomm Corp., formerly one of the biggest export manufacturers in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, will soon resume production operations here.

Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) chairman and administrator Wilma Eisma on Wednesday said the Taiwanese computer giant conducted recruitment activities here for two days last week to hire workers for some 2,500 positions at its Subic facility.

Wistron’s return to Subic came as a direct result of the emerging trade war between the super-economies of the United States and China, as well as of the threat by the Trump administration to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

“You can say that this again validates the inherent strength of Subic as a strategic business location, because when other countries lose their initial advantages in terms of cheap labor or distribution cost, companies opt for Subic,” Eisma said.

She also said that the SBMA expects more global companies affected by the trade war to consider moving out to Subic or other economic zones in the country.

According to SBMA Labor Department manager Severo Pastor, Wistron processed more than 4,000 applications during the two-day schedule of exams and job interviews last week, with 900 workers passing the qualifiers on the first day alone.

“They wanted HOTS — hired on the spot, so Taiwanese personnel from the company personally conducted the interviews. The SBMA labor personnel simply assisted on the second day to help process the growing number of applications,” he said.

Wistron Infocomm started out in Subic in 1995 as Acer Information Products (Philippines), Inc., a computer manufacturing outfit of Acer, Inc., Taiwan’s biggest computer firm.

It earned its current name in 2006 when Acer, Inc. spun off its Subic operations and infused fresh capitalization of USD36 million to include a Mobile Operations Unit (MSU).

In 2008, Wistron contributed more than a fourth of Subic’s USD977.84 export total with export production of USD274.88 million, leading the top 10 Subic exporters when Korean shipbuilder Hanjin, now the biggest exporter, was just a fledgling operation with USD61.74 million worth of exports.

In 2010, however, Wistron closed its hand-held device plant in Subic, shifting all of its production here to a facility in Zhongshan, China, but leaving its design automation center here.

The move displaced some 700 workers, at least 200 of whom, however, were reportedly sent off to a Wistron plant in the border-town facility of Juarez, Mexico.

In a clear reversal of fortune, Pastor said the newly-opened positions in Subic are the result of the company’s plan to relocate their operations to Mexico due to the threat by President Donald Trump to withdraw from NAFTA, which he has criticized for allowing Mexico to “steal” jobs from the United States and opening the border to cheap, tariff-free goods. (PNA)


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