‘Happy Labor Day’ means contractualization, low wages – labor groups

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MANILA, May 1, 2014 – Labor groups expect nothing spectacular as the country joins the world in celebrating International Labor Day today – except maybe that issues like contractualization and low wages continue to haunt the labor sector.

Speaking at the weekly Tapatan sa Aristocrat both Federation of Free Workers (FFW) president Atty. Sonny Matula and Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) chairman Elmer Labog agreed workers still suffer the same problems amidst the widely-publicized 7.2% GDP growth achieved last year.

Labog said the Aquino Administration has continued to frustrate Filipino workers due to prevailing “contractualization.”  He added workers are forced to look for other jobs as their contracts end within five months.

Matula said there are even companies which moved their operations to Region IV-A, known as CALABARZON, to give workers wages befitting workers outside of Metro Manila.

“The sad part of it is their workers are Metro Manila residents,” he added.

As far as former University of the Philippines’ School of Labor and Industrial Relations Dean Rene Ofreneo is concerned, there is great need for “decent work”.

“If there isn’t decent work, there can’t be a decent economy,” he said, calling on the Department of Labor and Employment to look into workers’ deaths and injuries at Korean shipbuilder Hanjin in Zambales.  He said the government should look into such glaring cases that involve Filipino workers.

Asked about the ASEAN economic integration’s impact on Filipino workers, Ofreneo said there is a need for thorough economic planning to prepare the country and its workforce.

He, however, expressed confidence Filipino professionals will not be affected by the integration at all because OFWs have been employed all over Asia for decades.

Ofreneo also lamented the fact that what was thought to be a stop-gap measure (foreign employment) has now become the hallmark of the current and previous administrations with 2013 foreign remittances reaching over US$ 20 billion.

Labor Communications director Nicon Fameronag said the government has been exerting efforts to address the prevailing situation.  Some 68 job fairs across the country have been scheduled today, May 1.

However, Labog said he finds it strange that the government tied-up its activities with a mall known for contractual workers. (Melo M. Acuna)


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