ABS-CBN to lay off workers effective August 31

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 15) — A number of ABS-CBN workers will lose their jobs on August 31 as the network stays off-air without a congressional franchise.

“With the non-renewal of its congressional franchise, ABS-CBN is now forced to cease the operations of some of its businesses and implement a retrenchment program covering ABS-CBN and its subsidiaries effective end of business day on 31 August 2020,” the media giant said in a statement on Wednesday.

It did not state how many workers will be affected, adding that they will be given separation pay and retirement benefits.

ABS-CBN also committed to provide job placement programs in light of the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. It said the decision to let go of workers was “truly difficult, but inevitable.”

“As much as it hurts us to implement this retrenchment program, this is the only way to ensure the continued employment of the rest of our Kapamilya,” the network said.

ABS-CBN has stopped radio and broadcast operations – the bulk of its business – in early May, but said it could retain its employees for three months, hoping then that it would go back on air.

On Friday, the House Committee on Legislative Franchises denied ABS-CBN a fresh 25-year franchise. Voting 70-11, the panel ruled that ABS-CBN did not deserve another franchise, citing violations it committed which the network denied.

READ: Solon who voted against ABS-CBN franchise bid wants gov't to use the network's TV, radio frequencies

The House leadership and Malacañang maintained that the network shutdown is not an attack on press freedom.

President Rodrigo Duterte had publicly threatened ABS-CBN over the network's refusal to carry his campaign commercials in 2016, but later accepted its apology. Duterte was recently quoted as saying he "dismantled the oligarchy."