“The Aquino government wants to make the production of cheap labor even more systematic with the K+12.”
By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA – Workers groups joined students and youth in a picket April 23 in front of the Department of Education-National Capital Region office in Quezon City. Members of national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno called for the junking of the K+12 program, which, it said, will make Philippine labor in the country even cheaper.
“The Aquino government wants to make the production of cheap labor even more systematic with the K+12,” said Jerome Adonis, KMU campaign officer.
K+12 is the education reform the Aquino government is currently starting to implement, amid complaints from various quarters including teachers, parents and students. The country’s minimum wages, meanwhile, are differentiated per region, sometimes even per district and province, so that the country has about 1,000 minimum wage rates, all of which are criticized as meager in the face of profits of establishments and current prices.
KMU said K+12 will make graduates of the extended high school curriculum legally eligible for employment, will reduce enrollment at the college level, and produce low-skilled workers receiving low wages.
“K+12 will further make us a nation of low-wage workers persistently locked in contractual employment,” said Adonis. After discussions with young workers and youth groups, he said the KMU has deduced the K+12 will add technical-vocational subjects to high school to enable graduates to enter employment upon graduation, and as such, discourage their pursuing college. But while getting a paying job is the aim of every student and the demand of every worker, Adonis said, the quality of jobs available for graduates of high-school and of technical-vocational education leave so much to be desired.
A nation of low wage-earner in poor quality jobs
The increase in jobs last year is largely comprised of poor quality jobs, based on the statement of the non-government think-tank Ibon Foundation on April 23. Employed Filipinos increased by 1.02 million last year, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), but IBON called attention to how 90 percent of these (918,000 jobs created) are part-time work.
These new jobs created include 605,000 who worked less than 20 hours and 108,000 who were classified “with a job but not at work”, IBON noted.
Almost half (407,000) of the reported new million jobs included self-employed workers; almost a third (292,000) worked without pay. IBON said that means 699,000 or 68 percent (or almost 7 in every 10) jobs created were either in the informal sector or unpaid family work. They said only an additional 329,000 were in wage and salary work.
It noted further that with the reported new jobs, the total recorded self-employed workers in the country were 10.5 million and those who worked without pay were four million in 2014.
IBON also noted that the largest part of the new jobs were not in the production sectors – almost half (48 percent) were in construction, trade, and accommodation and food services and seven percent were in administrative and support services.
In terms of wages, IBON said 77 percent (or nearly four in every five) of the additional employment was in sectors whose average daily basic pay is less than the already low national average of Php355.89 ($8) as of April 2014. These are jobs created in agriculture, manufacturing, construction, trade, hotel and restaurants, domestic help, among others.
In the new report published by the International Labour Organization (ILO) this week, it acknowledged the PH government’s reported “robust rates of growth” and “important gains in the labour market in recent years,” but it also advised more focus on decent and productive jobs to foster what they call as inclusive growth.
‘Job mismatch just a govt. lie’
In their protest action April 23, labor center KMU criticized the labor department’s “lies” about jobs mismatch, saying it is just their excuse for the widespread unemployment in the country, and for re-tooling the country’s education system “to further suit the interests of big foreign and local capitalists.”
KMU cited the real reasons why many Filipinos are jobless, and they said it is not due to Filipinos being not skilled enough for the available jobs.
Workers and peasant groups held a symposium in Manila, April 23, on national industrialization and land reform, the two thrusts for the economy which, they said, the government should have been implementing, instead of the opposite, which has consistently resulted in joblessness and low quality jobs.
“It is foolish to think the country’s problem in employment can be solved by adjustments in the education system,” said Adonis. On the contrary, he added, the K+12 will worsen the country’s educational system and lessen Filipinos’ education.