Cha-Cha Means More Wage Cuts and Lay-offs, Says KMU

Davao Today
Posted by Bulatlat

DAVAO CITY – The Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) in Southern Mindanao is wary of the proposal to amend the Constitution to open up the country’s resources to foreign companies, saying such proposal will only result to unfair working conditions for workers.

Arman Blasé, KMU-Southern Mindanao spokesperson, said salary deductions, lay-offs and unfair flexible labor conditions that workers experience right now will worsen if government allows more foreign companies to come in.

He reiterated the KMU’s stand against the proposed constitutional amendments, which would give multi-national companies greater control over the Philippine economy.

He said many cases of lay-offs and retrenchments were not caused by huge losses suffered by companies but because of the unchecked “flexible” labor practices by big companies, most of them foreign-owned. Flexible labor practices, which include “contractual schemes,” allow companies to save on labor cost.

KMU national secretary-general Wilson Baldonaza said workers from poor countries like the Philippines bear the burden of the global economic crisis as foreign companies operating here extract more profits by paying their workers very low wages. He also said that the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) and the Arroyo administration have been on the side of big businesses, exacerbating the abuses suffered by workers.
“It is not true that labor flexible schemes, such as wage cuts, reduced shifts, forced leaves, contractualization and others, are the only solutions to prevent mass lay-offs,” he said.

KMU defines labor “flexibilization” as “innovations” in the work system introduced by companies. They include labor-only-contracting, subcontracting and the hiring of casuals and contractuals. In the Philippines, “flexibilization” is usually associated with the hiring of contractual labor, an unjust practice that undermines workers rights, according to KMU. Contractual workers, who earn 17 to 34 percent less than their regular counterparts, do not have the security and other benefits that regular employees enjoy.

Blasé also called the job fairs that the government has been organizing nationwide as a “publicity stunt.” “Job fairs cannot solve the perennial problem of unemployment and low wages,” Blasé said.

The National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) data showed 40,000 Filipinos from the country’s export processing zones have lost their jobs as an effect of the global economic crisis. NEDA projected 800,000 more workers will be jobless by the end of the year. The NEDA projections did not include yet the 20,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) recently retrenched as a result of the global financial crisis. Some 4.3 million Filipinos were already unemployed even before the crisis erupted.

Over 3,000 workers took to the streets on Labor Day to demand for a stop to the labor “contractual” scheme and for the regularization of workers. They also asked for social and insurance benefits for displaced OFWS, an across-the-board wage increase for workers in both the public and private sectors. They also asked the government to set up price control mechanisms, the removal of 12 percent tax on utilities, a crackdown on government corruption.

“Our demands continued to be ignored by the Arroyo government,” Blasé said. “Arroyo wants to remain in power by kowtowing to the interest of big capitalists and ignoring the demands of workers.” ( / Posted by Bulatlat)

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