A party-list lawmaker said the government must go beyond its ‘band-aid solutions’ to the economic crisis.
Anakpawis Representative said the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) package of solutions consists only of ‘band-aid solutions’ and does not correspond to the intense impacts of the economic crisis on locally-employed and overseas Filipino workers.
Solutions presented by the DOLE include retraining and retooling of displaced workers, emergency loans, job placement for overseas employment and reduction of cost of doing business. “These are not real solutions but mere palliatives to the effects of the crisis,” Mariano said.
The lawmaker also reiterated his call to revoke DOLE Advisory No. 2 that provides guidelines for flexible working arrangements. He said the advisory further exacerbates the exploitation of workers and prods widespread unfair labor practices.
“DOLE may not admit it but companies are actually taking advantage of the economic crisis to further press down workers’ wages, impose more appalling working conditions and further suppress labor rights,” Mariano said.
Citing data from the International Labor Organization (ILO), Mariano said worst case projection of unemployment could surge to 23.3 million while vulnerable employment could grow by an alarming rate of 60 million in Asia Pacific. Mariano said the country’s unemployed now counts to 4.1 million including the jobless statistically removed from the labor force.
Mariano criticized DOLE’s conservative estimates on the number of workers affected by the crisis. Based on DoLE’s monitoring, from October 2008 to February 2009, 84,000 workers were affected by the crisis with 39,000 actual layoffs and 49,000 under flexible work arrangements.
Mariano said government must take serious actions to save and protect jobs in the light of increasing number of vulnerable employment and working poverty in the Asia Pacific. “The government must preserve jobs at all cost without sacrificing the rights, interests and welfare of workers,” he said.
Mariano said short-term solutions must include the granting of economic relief through additional wages, removal of value-added tax (VAT), rechanneling of the national budget to affordable health care, education, housing and other social programs, among others.
He added that long-term solutions should start with the decisive reversal of current economic policies that adhere to neoliberal globalization as well as radical reforms that will address the backwardness of the country’s local agriculture and industry. (Bulatlat.com)