Want tourism boom? Job security is key, gov’t told
For the Philippines to attract more visitors, attention should be given not only to revive and market its top destinations but also to ensure job security in the service sector, according to an organization of tourism workers.
The National Union of Workers in Hotel, Restaurant and Allied Industries (Nuwhrain) pointed out that a worker’s employment status could directly affect the overall experience of tourists.
Regular workers usually did their jobs better than their contractual counterparts, it said.
“Some of [the contractual workers] are fine with giving a not-so-good service since in their minds they will just be laid off after five months. There’s no [job] certainty, that’s why it’s important for a worker that his length of service is protected,” said Daniel Edralin, Nuwhrain secretary general.
The Department of Tourism (DOT) is targeting 8.2 million foreign tourist arrivals this year. It has embarked on various campaigns to promote the usual destinations — Boracay and Palawan — as well as alternative spots, such as Siargao, La Union, Bohol and Bicol, to meet this goal.
One way to increase arrivals and improve the overall experience of visitors is to ensure that workers in the tourism industry are regular employees and trained to be “customer-oriented,” Edralin told the Inquirer on Wednesday.
He lamented that for the past two decades, hotel and restaurant workers were often the first to lose their jobs whenever an establishment cut costs. As a result, the average number of regular employees in five-star hotels nationwide had dropped from 900 to 300 during that period, he said.
Nuwhrain membership also declined from 8,000 20 years ago to just 1,400 last year.
“Two-thirds of the workforce are now outsourced to agencies to reduce labor cost,” Edralin said. “They (hotel operators) would say competition was the primary reason because some hotels are doing it; even if these jobs were necessary, desirable [to their operations] and for the longest time were regular jobs.”
Among those displaced were waiters and housekeepers.
Security of tenure bill
Edralin urged Congress to pass the security of tenure (SOT) bill. The House of Representatives passed the measure in January last year, but the Senate was not able to approve its version of the bill despite President Duterte’s urgent certification in September.
The measure aims to end the long-standing problem of contractualizaton that has been depriving millions of workers of decent livelihood.
Edralin said most of those deployed by job agencies would get only a portion of their 13th-month pay because they were often reassigned to different establishments as part of their contracts.
Some did not have medical and retirement benefits, he said.
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