German firm to hire hundreds of workers

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GERMAN manufacturing giant Stihl Group has committed to hire 650 Filipino workers in the P2.5-billion plant that its subsidiary is building in Batangas.

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Zama Precision Industry Manufacturing Inc., a subsidiary of Stihl, the German manufacturer of chainsaws and other handheld power equipment including trimmers and blowers, is currently constructing a plant in Batangas as part of its investment commitment when it was registered with the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA).

“We are glad to be partners with government in its efforts to promote employment. Once our facility is up and running, we can create more than 650 new jobs for Filipinos,” said Dr. Karsten Wagner, managing director of Zama Precision.

Zama’s entry into the domestic market is touted as one of the biggest local investments of a German company in the Philippines.

The facility, located at the First Philippine Industrial Park (FPIP) in Sto. Tomas, Batangas, is set for inauguration in January, with full operations scheduled within the first quarter of the year. Zama’s 60,000-square-meter facility broke ground in September.

The plant will be manned by 650 Filipino workers, mostly skilled mechanics with intensive background in electronics and highly experienced in production work.

Wagner said at least 150 employees will be in the plantilla by yearend with another 500 joining the Zama team by 2016.

Once the plant’s operations are in full swing, Filipinos would have accounted for one-third of Zama’s workforce worldwide, a testament of the Stihl Group’s confidence in the talents of Filipino workers.

“A great part of the staff will be sent to China for training and there will also be experts from China who will come to train the employees on machine operations as well as other technical aspects,” said Wagner.

Although they acknowledge the topnotch performance of Filipino employees, Wagner said ample additional training is needed to ensure compliance with Zama’s strict high-technology and quality standards. The company will likewise invest heavily in hands-on coaching.

“We are eager to work with Filipinos as we have heard so many good things about them. In partnership with them, we are confident that Zama’s operations in the Philippines will surpass expectations and will greatly contribute to Stihl Groups’s consolidated operations,” Wagner said.

The latest statistics from the Labor Force Survey released by the Department of Labor show that the country has a high unemployment rate of 6.4 percent and an underemployment rate of 17.8 percent.

With more graduates joining the labor force, the number of jobless Filipinos will continue to increase unless the government comes up with a drastic program that will provide more opportunities to workers.

Zama Holdings is recognized as a technology leader and is said to be the world’s largest manufacturer of diaphragm carburetors with plants in Japan, Hong Kong, China, and the United States. It has 2,400 employees worldwide and produces more than 14 million carburetors in about 350 different models.

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