Officials of Bayan Muna and Anakpawis in the Visayas belittled the effect of Jobapalooza in Cebu, citing that only 81 applicants landed a job. Calling job fairs as a band-aid solution, they said the Labor Department should, instead, scrutinize the books of companies that are retrenching its workers. They also continue to push for a legislated increase in the minimum wage.
BY RITCHE T. SALGADO
CEBU CITY – At 10 a.m. Joyce, 22, was already at the end of a very long queue. She was one of the more than 11,000 applicants who flocked to the three venues in Cebu City (SM City Cebu, Cebu City Sports Complex and Cebu Provincial Capitol) where the Jobapalooza ’09, a much-publicized government-initiated job fair, was held. She was positive that by the end of the day she would be able to land a job, after all, she had read in the newspapers that 10,000 jobs were waiting to be filled up.
“Right now we are looking for someone with experience,” said the hiring officer of one of the participating companies in the fair at SM City Cebu. “But we will be forwarding your application to our personnel officer for further consideration. We will call you, should we have an update on your application.”
After approaching three more booths, Joyce was starting to lose hope. It was almost 12 noon, and all she was getting was the “Wait for our call or text” spiel.
This was also the case for Nazel, 23, who left her house in Liloan at 6 a.m., leaving her one-year old son in the care of her mother, hoping that when she gets back home she would already be bearing the good news that she landed a job.
“I am applying as a cashier,” she said. “I have already approached three companies, but I am sure that soon I will get a call as they promised.”
Unlike Joyce, Nazel had experience. She worked as a cashier for SM Department Store and Metro Gaisano before deciding to rest for a year to take care of her newborn.
“It is difficult to raise a family if only one of you is working, that is why I finally decided to try my luck and start looking for a job again,” Nazel said in Cebuano.
At the end of the day, only 81 applicants were hired on the spot, way below the 2,000 instant jobs promised by the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE).
At the city sports complex where the overseas job fair was held, all the applicants were put under consideration. Fidel Magno, who heads the Cebu City’s Department of Manpower Development and Placement, admitted that although there were 20,000 overseas job openings available, actual hiring rarely happens especially when highly skilled workers are needed.
Arman Perez, secretary general for Bayan Muna Central Visayas, said that the job fair is a mere tactic of the government to deceive the people into believing that it is doing something about the issue of unemployment. He said that the highly promoted job fair is a “band-aid solution” that will not solve the problem of unemployment in the country.
“Lantawa ang mga jobfairs. Kasagaran sa mga tawo nga mo-apil gabalik balik lang (Notice that most of the people who join job fairs are the same.),” he said, adding that majority of the job seekers would not get employed because companies look for people with experience, and even those who would be hired would not be ensured a stable job as the jobs available are on a contract basis.
Jaime Paglinawan, vice president for the Visayas of Anakpawis Partylist, said the labor situation in the Visayas region is very bleak.
“Gipahimuslan sa mga negosyante ang global financial crisis para mapakuyanap ang contractualization ug ang gitawag na flexible labor arrangement susama sa reduced work days, reduced work hours and wage cuts (Some businesses are taking advantage of the global financial crisis to justify contractualization and flexible labor arrangements like reduced work days, reduced work hours and wage cuts),” Paglinawan said.
The Visayas Human Development Agency recorded 12,000 lay-offs in the furniture industry in Cebu alone. “DoLE mismo dili mopakita sa tinuod na sitwasyon sa labor sector na apektado. Sa ilang record, wala nila giapil ang mga kontrakwal nga gipangtaktak ug ang mga trabahante na mi-avail sa optional o early retirement package. Buot huna-hunaon kini is a form of retrenchment (The DoLE, itself, refuses to reveal the real situation of the labor sector. They do not include in their records the number of contractual workers who have been retrenched, or even those who took advantage of the optional or early retirement package, which in a way is a form of retrenchment),” Paglinawan added.