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Gov’t only has itself to blame, says biggest PH labor group

/ 04:50 AM June 06, 2020

The country’s largest labor organization on Friday said the government only had itself to blame for the unemployment rate hitting a 15-year high.

The policies put in place particularly by the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) over the last three months worsened the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the plight of workers, according to the Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP).

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While the community quarantines imposed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 forced the shutdown of most businesses, these policies caused thousands of workers to be unemployed or underemployed, it said.

“Dole’s (Department Order No.) 213 and Labor Advisory 17 [are] making it harder for workers to return to work and to keep working. These policies issued by the Dole are oppressive and very disadvantageous to workers,” ALU-TUCP spokesperson Alan Tanjusay said.

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Bello: Numbers expected

“On the other hand, the DTI canceled the deferment of rents and ordered micro- and small businesses to pay rents and arrears immediately, forcing businesses to lay off more employees to be able to pay the rent,” he added.

Also on Friday, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the Dole expected unemployment figures to be this bad due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The 17.7-percent unemployment rate, which translated to 7.3 million Filipinos without jobs, is higher than the 10.3 percent recorded in 1998 as a result of the Asian financial crisis.

Bello also noted that the labor force participation rate also dropped to its lowest level at 55.6 percent at a time when fresh graduates are expected to be looking for jobs.

“When the pandemic hit, we feared that employment would be impacted badly. We expected these results given that the health crisis has crippled most of our economic activities,” Bello said. “As the economy opens gradually, we are hopeful that the labor market will also recover.”

Recovery fund sought

To get the labor market going again, the Nagkaisa labor coalition urged the Duterte administration to allot a recovery fund amounting to at least 10 percent of the country’s gross domestic product to not only stimulate the economy but also to create stable jobs.

“[Such funding] ensures that employment and income support for workers are guaranteed; public health care is radically improved, and the economy is organized based on new areas of growth and not on the business-as-usual approach,” Nagkaisa chair Sonny Matula said. —Jovic Yee

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TAGS: Alan Tanjusay, Bello, DOLE, Jobs, Labor, TICP, Unemployment, workers
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