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Volume 2, Number 47              January 5 - 11, 2003            Quezon City, Philippines







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Commentary 
In 2003, Arroyo May Create More Jobs, But…

The government planned nationwide apprenticeship program reveals that its concept of job generation rests mainly on the number of jobs created, not on the quality of employment provided. That fresh college graduates are the target beneficiaries does not come as a surprise, especially when analyzing the current unemployment data.

By DANILO ARAÑA ARAO
Bulatlat.com

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo stressed that her decision not to run in 2004 would make her administration focus on more important issues like unemployment. According to her, the creation of jobs is one of the three priorities in the last 17 months of her administration, the other two being “national unity” and “clean and honest elections in 2004.”

These are enticing words from a President who intends to dispel public perception of being a lame duck and to assure the public that it is “business as usual” for the government.

The problem, however, lies in the continuity of such “business” which is essentially anti-labor, not to mention the inherent failure to make radical changes in labor policy and treatment of workers.

The administration’s anti-labor stance was manifested only last December 26, four days before her announcement of not running in 2004.  President Macapagal-Arroyo declared her plan to launch a national apprenticeship program “under which fresh college graduates would be taken in by companies for training.”

As apprentices, the recruits will be given allowances instead of salaries. No less than Presidential Spokesperson Rigoberto Tiglao admitted that “(i)t’s not (going to be) regular work, but at least (they will receive) some income.”

Based on this plan, it is clear that the administration’s concept of job generation rests mainly on the number of jobs created, not on the quality of employment provided. That fresh college graduates are the target beneficiaries does not come as a surprise, especially when analyzing the current unemployment data.

Labor Force Statistics

As of October 2002, the country’s unemployment rate is pegged at 10 % which translates to about 3.42 million people.

Interestingly, the 20-24 years old age group constitutes the bulk of the unemployed with 1 million.

The data show that those who are supposed to be provided employment opportunities (having graduated from college around the age of 20) are the ones left out in the race for limited job opportunities in the country.

Allowances Not Minimum Wage

That the administration decided to provide apprenticeship to fresh college graduates may not mean much in terms of compensation, since companies can opt not to peg the “allowances” based on the prevailing minimum wage. It is probable therefore that such allowances will be lower.

Then again, the minimum wage in the country, compared to the cost of living requirement, is grossly insufficient for making both ends meet.

As of November 2002, the Department of Labor and Employment has peged the living wage for a family of six at P533 in Metro Manila. The minimum wage, however, only amounts to P280.

Minimum and Family Living Wage
November 2002
 

 

On a Daily Basis

 

On a Monthly Basis

 

 

Minimum
Wage
Rate

Family
Living
Wage

Wage
Gap

Minimum
Wage
Rate

Family
Living
Wage

Wage
Gap

Philippines

234.55

501.29

(266.74)

5,160.10

15,038.57

(9,878.47)

Metro Manila

280.00

533.00

(253.00)

6,160.00

15,990.00

(9,830.00)

Areas outside Metro Manila

189.10

469.57

(280.47)

4,160.20

14,087.14

(9,926.94)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CAR

190.00

510.00

(320.00)

4,180.00

15,300.00

(11,120.00)

Region I (Ilocos)

190.00

482.00

(292.00)

4,180.00

14,460.00

(10,280.00)

Region II (Cagayan Valley)

180.00

439.00

(259.00)

3,960.00

13,170.00

(9,210.00)

Region III (Central Luzon)

228.50

462.00

(233.50)

5,027.00

13,860.00

(8,833.00)

Region IV (Southern Tagalog)

237.00

504.00

(267.00)

5,214.00

15,120.00

(9,906.00)

Region V (Bicol)

182.00

470.00

(288.00)

4,004.00

14,100.00

(10,096.00)

Region VI (Western Visayas)

180.00

406.00

(226.00)

3,960.00

12,180.00

(8,220.00)

Region VII (Central Visayas)

200.00

487.00

(287.00)

4,400.00

14,610.00

(10,210.00)

Region VIII (Eastern Visayas)

188.00

357.00

(169.00)

4,136.00

10,710.00

(6,574.00)

Region IX (Western Mindanao)

175.00

467.00

(292.00)

3,850.00

14,010.00

(10,160.00)

Region X (Northern Mindanao)

192.00

434.00

(242.00)

4,224.00

13,020.00

(8,796.00)

Region XI (Southern Mindanao)

195.00

415.00

(220.00)

4,290.00

12,450.00

(8,160.00)

Region XII (Central Mindanao)

180.00

452.00

(272.00)

3,960.00

13,560.00

(9,600.00)

CARAGA

179.00

689.00

(510.00)

3,938.00

20,670.00

(16,732.00)

ARMM

140.00

n.d.a.

n.d.a.

3,080.00

n.d.a.

n.d.a.

Source of basic data: DOLE
Minimum wage rates are highest nominal wage as of November 2002

This implies that the minimum wage, low as it is, still cannot be provided to apprentices. In the eyes of the administration, however, this is still considered work and will therefore lower the number of unemployed people in the country.

Furthermore, it is interesting to note that of the 30.25 million employed people, around 15.63 million (51.67%) are own-account and unpaid family workers. Only 14.62 million (48.33%) are wage and salary workers, or those who regularly receive compensation, regardless of the amount.

Indeed, analyzing government pronouncements in the context of the current employment and unemployment situation brings to the fore the inherent weakness of the administration to look after the welfare of workers.

While various administrations have thought of creative ways to solve the unemployment problem, these have failed due to the lack of political will to provide workers what is due them.

The planned nationwide apprenticeship program will also meet the same fate in the light of the failure of the administration to recognize the fundamental problems besetting the labor sector, foremost of which are low wages and security of tenure. Bulatlat.com


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