US trader closes shop, leaves workers hanging

AN American businessman outsourcing the manufacture of dental-related products in the country suddenly closed shop in Manila, leaving his  clueless 416 employees with no salaries and separation benefits.

Workers of Skytech International Dental Laboratories yesterday said the company’s chief executive officer and owner, Laurence Kevin Fishman, has left them with unpaid salaries and benefits, and even unpaid office bills that run up to millions.

Wilfredo Galapon, a senior employee at the Sta. Mesa-based dental facility, said Fishman sent an email on August 24 from the US, informing senior officers of the company that it is closing down of the production laboratory effective August 25.

Galapon said the American businessman did not give prior notice on the closing down of the company, which has been operating in the country in the past 15 years.

“It happened so fast. No clues, no notices. And we only learned about it through email,” Galapon said.

Fishman emailed his executive vice president for Manila operations, Wilma Ledler, also an American, of the decision to close shop.

Ledler was also shocked with the decision.

The American-owned company engages in the production of dental prosthetics, which are used for the company’s international clients.

The company has also laboratories in Vietnam and China and is headquartered in Los Angeles, California, under the corporate name Trident Dental Laboratories.

Fishman owes his Filipino employees at least P50 million in salaries and severance pays.

The American businessman also left unpaid obligations, including back rental of P1.7 million, P500 million in electricity bills and obligations to local suppliers also reaching millions.

The owner of the building that the company occupies has since barred the employees from accessing their offices.

The workers said Fishman’s claim that he was losing money is absurd because the company employs three shifts of technicians practically 24 hours a day.

The workers said Fishman’s move might be a retaliation to a dismissed employee’s complait filed last May before the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation.

Mario Caingat, former company comproller, filed a complaint against Fishman with the BID for “no work permit, exhibiting racist behaviours and failure to pay overdue liabilities to government agencies like the Bureau of Internal Revenue.”  Dino Ng

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