The same argument holds true in terms of a substantial wage hike. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP or Central Bank of the Philippines) declared as early as February that there is no need for a wage increase since the inflation rate is slowing down. This bolstered the excuse of companies, which Malacañang officials echo, that because there is a global recession, wage hikes will only further destroy jobs.
These preempt the initiatives of workers to negotiate with their employers for a wage increase. Besides, a review of past retrenchments and shut downs shows that unfair foreign competition, overdependence on a volatile global market and lack of government support, among others – and not wage hike – are behind the woes of most local firms.
In summary, the ERP of the Arroyo administration aims to create and preserve jobs through temporary, insecure and externally-driven (i.e. labor export and foreign investment) employment with even more measly pay. It is no longer new; such has been the case of employment in the Philippines for decades. But the ERP is pushing it to a new and higher level, at a greater expense, oppression and exploitation of Filipino workers.
People’s Fighting Demands
The ERP clearly shows that the Arroyo administration is not only unable but is also unwilling to deal with the global crisis outside the framework of its flawed economic program. We are thus challenged to put forward an alternative set of policy reforms and measures that will serve and protect our interests as a people and as a country struggling to achieve real and sustainable economic development.
On a positive note, the crisis is offering a unique opportunity for all vulnerable, oppressed and neglected segments of society – from the basic sectors to the marginalized Filipino businessman/woman – to unite and advance a common agenda for deeper economic reforms.
Such reforms must provide urgent economic relief as well as give an opening for a more substantial policy shift in terms of long-term direction and paradigm for the economy. With this in mind, the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or New Patriotic Alliance), through consultations with various sectors, has come up with the People’s Fighting Demands for Immediate Economic Relief and Long-Term Reforms. (See Annex)
The Fighting Demands builds on the people’s ongoing campaigns to establish a pro-people, pro-Filipino and nationalist economy. As a concrete alternative to the defective ERP, it outlines a set of short-term or urgent relief measures to truly mitigate the impact of the global crisis on ordinary Filipinos.
More importantly, the Fighting Demands advocates medium and long-term reforms that aim to gradually reorient and redesign the domestic economy towards the path of self-reliance and genuine industrialization. Needless to say, it would not materialize without a great and broad movement that will campaign and work hard to translate these proposals into actual national policies. (Bulatlat.com)
People’s Fighting Demands for Economic Relief and Long-Term Reforms: Ensuring a Pro-People and Nationalist Response to the Global Financial and Economic Crisis
1. Protection and Promotion of Jobs and Immediate Provision of Benefits and Assistance to Affected Workers
a. Ensure that due process are accorded to all workers, including overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), who are facing retrenchment or dislocation to prevent unreasonable termination.
b. Review all the cases of displaced workers with the employer citing the global financial and economic crisis as the reason behind such termination to determine if due process was observed and the reason cited was legitimate.
c. Ensure the easy access of all workers to all the benefits accorded to them by their social security and insurance systems.
d. Ensure that all claims due to the displaced workers such as separation pay and other entitlements must be given without delay by their employers.
e. Provide immediate relief, including but not limited to, direct cash assistance grant to all workers displaced by the global financial and economic crisis.
f. Ensure that displaced OFWs obtain from their employers the immediate provision of full compensation including separation pay, payment for the unexpired portion of their contracts, and reimbursement of air transportation fare.
g. Stop the imposition of onerous and additional fees on workers leaving the country to look for employment opportunities abroad.
h. Ensure that all benefits due to OFWs from their contribution to the funds of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) are easily accessible and readily provided.
i. Stop contractualization and all forms of labor flexibilization schemes.
j. Stop the massive and systematic retrenchment of all public sector workers by scrapping all so-called “rationalization plans” such as Executive Order (EO) 366 and EO 102, and all privatization programs for various government agencies, government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs), and other public enterprises and institutions.
k. Stop the ejection of peasants from their land.
l. Provide substantial and immediate government assistance to farmers in areas hit by natural or man-made calamities that affected farm production.
m. Suspend the clearing operation of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) against sidewalk vendors.