The country’s unemployment rate has remained unchanged at 7 percent on the average since President Aquino assumed office in 2010, labor center think tank Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER) said today as poverty incidence has been found out to stay the same in the last 6 years.
EILER said that the January 2013 unemployment rate was at 7.1 percent, which is almost the same as the July 2010 unemployment rate at 7 percent. In actual terms, the number of jobless Filipinos grew by nearly 200,000 during the said period based on the labor department’s data.
Yesterday, the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) released a report showing that poverty incidence remains unchanged from 2006 to 2012.
“Such failure to create a dent on joblessness and poverty incidence underscores the hollowness of the stock market hype and supposed economic growth under Aquino. What we have is economic growth that produces super profits for big companies instead of jobs for ordinary Filipinos. Aquino’s brand of growth is one that perpetuates poverty and social inequality,” EILER executive director Anna Leah Escresa said.
“If ever there are new jobs, these are contractual and vulnerable jobs that are concentrated in the informal and services sector such as in construction and business process outsourcing, not in the industries,” she added.
Escresa also noted an “unprecedented surge” in the number of underemployed Filipinos since Aquino assumed the presidency.
“The number of employed Filipino workers looking for additional work increased by 22 percent, from 6.5 million in 2010 to nearly 8 million in January 2013. This clearly shows how current compensation levels are insufficient to meet the rising cost of living,” Escresa said.
“Workers are being forced to seek multiple jobs because wages are ridiculously low in the country at only $8 per day on the average. Their chances of survival are getting dimmer under this administration which places premium on corporate interests,” she added.
EILER explained that the lack of decent jobs will persist as long as the Aquino regime relies on neoliberal policies, dependence on foreign investments to support non-productive sectors of the economy such as business process outsourcing (BPO), trade, mining, and real estate. Decent job creation will only be achieved with a nationalist economic development that is based on achieving national industrialization and genuine agrarian reform.
Position Paper in Support of House Bill 375 which provides for a P125 Daily Across-the-Board Increase in the Salary Rates of Private Sector Workers
Presented during Public Hearing of Committee on Labor and Employment
Strawberry Valley Hotel, La Trinidad, Benguet
January 18, 2013
The Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER) strongly supports House Bill 375 which provides for the P125 across-the-board increase in daily salaries of private workers. The workers’ demand for a substantial wage increase has been sought long enough to reach more than a decade. It has been re-filed in the lower house from the 12th Congress to the current 15th Congress. We have heard all the arguments against it, unsurprisingly, the Department of Labor and Employment and ECOP almost echoing each other’s positions. For those who have supported the bill, we believe that we have delivered all the salient points and have discussed the counterarguments against those raised by groups opposing the bill. The fate of the HB 375 and the demand for a substantial wage increase, lies on the hands of our good legislators here. Will they heed the call of the workers and grab the opportunity to push the P125 Across-the-Board Wage Bill into Plenary, and give the bill a chance to be deliberated? Or will they let the 15th Congress to be perceived by history to have just shelved the bill?
For this final public hearing of the Committee on Labor and Employment, we again submit our position on why House Bill 375 should be urgently passed.
1) The government boasted the 3rd quarter growth of the gross domestic product in year 2012, a “spectacular” 7.1% growth, together with the upgraded credit outlook and booming stock market as proofs of its good economic policies. However, the question remains, does these statistics reflect inclusive and equitable growth? If there has been really economic growth, then it is more justifiable to include our workers to benefit from this growth.
Unfortunately, the touted growth was felt more by big business. According to IBON Foundation, big business posted an increase in profits, based on data from the Philippine Stock Exchange. The combined net incomes of listed firms grew 18% to Php 377.12 billion in January to September 2012 from Php 319.97 billion in the same period the previous year.[i] Moreover, From 2010-2011, the top 1,000 corporations gained an average annual income of Php 780.02 billion compared to an average of Php 421 billion annually during the previous administration. The profitability of big business under the current administration is also higher at an average of 11.1% annually.
While on the other side, the real value of worker’s minimum wages remain stagnant for more than 2 decades and continues to be eroded with the continuous increase in prices of basic commodities and utilities. The meager wage adjustments issued by the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards since its formation in 1989 under R.A.6727 did not suffice to deliver substantial wage increase to offset wage erosion and price increases. In IBON’s estimate for 2012, NCR’s minimum wage only covers only 44% of the estimated family living wage of 1,022 per day. In November 2012, the current nominal wage for Non-Agriculture in NCR is at P456, with real wage equivalence of P363.35, a mere 20% increase in real wage rates in 2011. The lowest current nominal minimum wage rates can still be found in the ARMM with P232, with real wage of only P162.46, while here in CAR, nominal wage rate is at P280 with real wage rate of P214.07.
Comparison of daily minimum wage and family living wage (National Capital Region)
|Daily minimum wage in NCR||Family living wage in NCR||Difference|
While recognizing that the P125 increase as provided for by HB 375 will not bridge this gap, granting the substantial wage hike will nevertheless cut the gap significantly and thus help families cope better with rising consumer prices.
Alarmingly, in May 2012, the International Labor Organization (ILO) ranked the average monthly wages in the Philippines as the third lowest among 72 countries in the world at US $ 279 or Php 11,700, just above the average monthly wages of Tajikistan and Pakistan, and is just 19% of the world’s average monthly wages. For ILO, Asian nations should veer away from reliance on cheap labor and exports to fuel growth, instead focus on promoting higher wages and boosting economic demand. In its Global Wage Report for 2012-13, ILO warned warned developing nations that letting wage levels stagnate had contributed to such problems as the latest financial crisis.
2) A legislated wage increase is direly needed amidst the implementation of further flexibilization of wages under the current wage setting and the newly introduced 2-tiered wage system. This year, we are entering into the 24th year of the implementation of the Wage Rationalization Act or R.A.6727. It is about time for the Philippine legislation to assess and evaluate the failure of the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards to provide substantial and significant wage increase for workers. A study conducted by DOLE’s Institute for Labor Studies showed how decisions during deliberations among RTWPBs are dominated mainly be employers’ representatives. This partly explains why in its more than 2 decades of implementation, the RTWPBs have been issuing meager token wage increases, and increases only in Cost of Living Allowances and not the basic minimum wage rates.
To illustrate the dismal record of the regional tripartite productivity and wages board (RTPWB), regional wage boards across the nation has granted minimum wage increases not higher than P26 since their creation in 1989 under the Wage Rationalization Act. In several instances, these regional wage boards even implemented wage hike moratoriums. In the NCR, the RTPWB implemented a wage freeze thrice since 1989 (1992, 2003 and 2009).
And while the P125 Across-the-board Wage bill has been filed and refiled, deliberated and debated upon in Congress, DOLE and RTWPB can easily issue Department Orders and Wage Orders introducing new wage setting schemes that would would lower the current minimum wage rates and further make wage setting system more flexible and in full control of employers, thru the 2-tiered wage system. The introduction of floor wage based on poverty threshold will lower and eventually replace current minimum wage rates, and productivity-based system will ensure employer’s sole determination of worker’s productivity. This can be seen in the Wage Order No. 15 for Region IV-A where the minimum wage rates of P337 were effectively frozen until year 2016 and the increase were only given to workers earning below the set floor wage which is P255. Under the 2-tiered wage system, we expect that the future wage orders will not issue any increase in the minimum wage rates to pave the way for the introduction of a much lower floor wage.
Since under the general direction further flexible wage setting, no substantial wage increase can be seen expected from the RTPWB and instead would take lowered minimum wages with the replacement of floor wages, it is more imperative that a legislated wage increase should be put in place.
3) The right to living wage and the right to security of tenure are both inherent worker’s rights that are stated in our Philippine Constitution, both are rights that should be protected by the State.
Article 8 of the Philippine Constitution states that:
Section 3. The State shall afford full protection to labor, local and overseas, organized and unorganized, and promote full employment and equality of employment opportunities for all.
It shall guarantee the rights of all workers to self-organization, collective bargaining and negotiations, and peaceful concerted activities, including the right to strike in accordance with law. They shall be entitled to security of tenure, humane conditions of work, and a living wage. They shall also participate in policy and decision-making processes affecting their rights and benefits as may be provided by law.
It has been a usual counterargument that granting an increase in minimum wage would hurt employment. But there has been no empirical evidence on this theory. A study cited by ILO in its Global Wage Report 2009-2010, showed that this theory is only applicable under perfectly competitive market and firms always have some control over their production. In practice, higher minimum wages do not necessarily lead to reduced employment since the higher costs of minimum wages can be covered by the reduction of profits for the firms.  Other empirical studies show that there is insignificant employment effect from minimum wage increases. Even in the released OECD Employment Outlook 2010 concluded that the relationship between minimum wage and median wage brings no significant changes to worker flows. 
These studies are confirmed by the latest available government data on Establishments Resorting to Permanent Closure/ Retrenchment Due to Economic Reasons as shown below.
From 2008 to 2010 (January-October), the accumulated number of workers that were permanently displaced by establishments due to minimum wage increase were only 722 workers and only covers 0.5% of the total number of permanently displaced workers or 141,474 permanently displaced workers for the 3-year coverage. The top reasons for the permanent displacement of workers by establishments were mainly due to reorganization, downsizing, or redundancy (41,135 workers displaced or 29%), lack of market or slump in demand (29,027 workers displaced or 21%), and financial losses (27,457 workers displaced or 19%). Thus, in the Philippines, the minimum wage increases did not result in massive retrenchments and closures of establishments.
An increase in minimum wage should be accommodated by firms through reduction of their profits, since labor costs (wages and benefits) only constitute around 6.8% of production costs (in manufacturing as of 2005). The direct impact of a minimum wage increase is trimming the employers profit margins.
Big business has also been using the possible negative impact of the passage of the P125 ATB Wage Bill to micro small and medium enterprises as an argument against the bill. It should be cleared however, that under the Barangay Microbusiness Enterprises Law (BMBE Law), MSME has been exempted in the implementation of minimum wage. Furthermore, distressed companies can easily file exemptions from minimum wage payments. Therefore, there are sufficient laws and policies that would protect our small businesses.
4) A legislated wage increase now would be a sound wage policy in times of continuing global economic crisis.
The global economic crisis has brought to fore the structural problems of the dominant global economic system. In fact, the current crisis resulted from the inherent structural weakness of this system, with the perennial decreasing wage share and wage inequality amidst the so called “economic growth” and depressing wage rates amidst ballooning corporate profits, has led to spiral falling of aggregate demand. This was compensated for by increased borrowing, and “growth” was maintained at the cost of increased indebtedness.
The policies of deregulation, liberalization and privatization under globalization has brought the vulnerable sectors of society to lower wages, informalization, joblessness and deeper poverty. According to ILO, in these times of crisis, it is time for nations to look inward and develop the domestic economy. In its Global Wage Report 2009-2010, ILO has urged policy-makers to prioritize wage policies during crisis since it concerns social justice and the hardships that inequality and low wages bring to the most vulnerable sectors of society. It is a matter of achieving social justice since the costs of the financial crisis and rescue packages were borne by all, while the benefits of earlier “expansionary period” were unevenly shared. ILO presented numerous wage and labor policies with stress on overarching regulation by the state. It explains importance of collective bargaining and minimum wages. It states that “the minimum wage is a policy tool to provide an effective backstop at the lower end of the wage distribution.”
Reverberating ILO’s recommendations, EILER supports the legislated across-the-board wage increase. We believe that the granting of a legislated P125 across-the-board minimum wage increase stated under HB 375 will result to the following positive impact:
- It will strengthen aggregate demand for goods and services from domestic sources, creating a more viable domestic market.
- It will help address market imperfections, such as gender pay gaps. According to the report, women are more vulnerable to lower wages, thus, increasing minimum wage would benefit mostly women workers receiving lower pay. It will benefit the most vulnerable sectors workers, the contractuals, women workers and other low-wage workers, who are earning around 40% less than the current minimum wage. The figure below shows that majority of workers who are salary and wage earners receive wages below the minimum wage rates. An increase in minimum wage would help reduce low wage employment.
- It will create a ripple wage effect, wherein other workers above the minimum wage rates will benefit also from the increase as the ripple effect can reach even to wage levels that are 25% more than the minimum wage rates. In the United States, a 10% increase in the minimum wage resulted in a 1.4% increase for the highest percentile wage level.
The government, instead of showing a doomsday scenario if ever the P125 ATB Wage Bill is passed should study and look at the other side of the picture, where a substantial wage increase will bring more gains for our economy in general and at the same time uplift the lives of our workers who are earning poverty wages. In fact, a substantial increase in the minimum wage is a more effective and strategic long-term social protection policy than the dole-out conditional cash transfer that the current government prioritizes.
In view of the justifications cited above, it is highly justified and necessary for Congress to pass HB 375 at the soonest time possible. Passing the bill should also be complemented by a strong implementation machinery to ensure compliance and maximize the impact of the minimum wage increase. For the longest time, millions of Filipino workers have been deprived of decent living because of the current slave wages. Approving the P125 across-the-board nationwide wage increase is one step towards ending this social injustice. We pray on the Committee on Labor and Employment to urgently forward HB 375 for deliberations in the Plenary and ensure its passage under the 15th Congress.#
 Manning, Alan. Imperfect competition in the Labour Market. CEP Discussion Paper No. 981. Center for Economic Performance. May 2010.
 Doucouliagos, H.; Stanley, T.D. 2009. “Publication selection bias in minimum-wage research?: A meta-regression analysis”, in British Journal of Industrial Relations,Vol. 47, No. 2.
 OECD 2010 Employment Outlook: Moving beyond the jobs crisis (Paris).
 Current Labor Statistics, January 2011. Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics, Department of Labor and Employment. http://www.bles.dole.gov.ph/Current%20Labor%20Statistics/HTML/FOREWORD.html
 ILO Global Wage Report 2010-2011.
[i] IBON Yearend 2012: The Deceit of Good Economics and Good Governance, January 10, 2013.
An Open Letter to the International Committee of the World Social Forum on Migrations in Manila, Philippines
We note that you have posted a draft of the so-called “Manila Declaration of the 5thWSFM” in the event’s official website, a document that was first presented in the final hours of November 29’s plenary session of the forum. As participants in the said event, the undersigned organizations express grave reservations regarding the issuance of this Manila Declaration, for the following reasons:
1. Contextually, we appreciate the WSFM to be mainly a vehicle for discussion among widely diverse organizations and individuals in the migration discourse, and thus it can lay no enduring claim to homogeneity in advocacy principles or courses of action. Due to the political broadness of the WSFM’s participant base and its avowed adherence to the CSO principle of pluralism, we find it very inappropriate that a document amounting to a virtual “Declaration of Unity” has been foisted on this highly diverse mass of participants, and without the benefit of proper time and space for such “unification”.
A more fitting document for the occasion would have been an executive summary of activities that synthesizes recommendations from each workshop, which were the highest level of general unities that the WSFM can rightfully lay a claim to having fostered in this event.
2. We also note with apprehension that the Declaration’s reference to the GFMD and its paradigm remains unchanged, despite the fact that interventions from the floor and in the HLD workshop on November 29 have consistently manifested many participants’ concern to have the WSFM take up a more critical position vis-à-vis the GFMD and its migration for development line. Stating descriptively that “National governments and international organizations such as the World Bank and the International Organization for Migration and the GFMD have focused attention on remittances and migration management as contributing to development” does not even remotely reflect the participants’ critical concern on this matter.
3. The whole process whereby the Declaration was deliberated on and initially “approved” by the WSFM’s participants was seriously flawed. No copies of the draft were circulated to the participants prior to the floor deliberations, and there was a pronounced lack of transparency in the presentation of the document. We find the stated reason for not allowing participants to go over the LCD-projected draft thoroughly (i.e., it will take too much time) to be unacceptable, given the implications of the document’s contents and the need to ensure procedural integrity in generating such sweeping “unities” as the document contains.
We also would like to take exception to the viva voce and hand-raising methods employed in this particular plenary as a marked departure from the spirit of inclusiveness and consensus-building that the WSFM had nurtured in the past. Furthermore, these were done at a time when large numbers of participants were no longer present in the plenary hall, and in a pressured atmosphere wherein emphasis was already being made on having the Declaration approved with dispatch.
4. While there is no mention that the draft Declaration is referring to a specific 5-year plan, we believe that the document circulated during the HLD workshop and entitled, “A Civil Society Proposal for a Negotiated Outcome in the Form of a 5-Year action Plan at the 2013 UN HLD” is closely linked to point number 29 in the Declaration which says, “Towards this end, we call on the upcoming UN High Level Dialogue on Migration and Development to adhere to a 5-year action plan that advances protections of the human rights of migrants, and links to a post-2015 development agenda that affirms the right to migrate and remain at home with decent work and human security”. This point was merely brushed aside when it was raised on the floor, and for us this indicates a short-changing of the democratic process necessary for the owning up of the Declaration by a majority, if not all, of the WSFM’s participants.
There was also no extensive and exhaustive discussion by all the participants on the content of the “5-point agenda” that was being referred to by the document, one which commits WSFM’s participants in general to supporting positions which they are not collectively privy to. This matter was only taken up in the UN HLD workshop that was held in the afternoon of November 29, and not in the plenary session as should have been the case.
For these and other reasons, the undersigned organizations declare that we do not support the so-called “Manila Declaration” of the 5th WSFM. We request the Secretariat to exclude our respective organizations from any list of signatories to this document, and even in the enumeration of 118 organizations that are implied as being behind the Declaration. We still abide by our previous assertion that the only clear unities arrived at in this WSFM are the workshop recommendations – nothing more, nothing less.
Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM) – Asia Pacific
Action Network for Marriage Migrants’ Rights and Empowerment (AMMORE) – Asia Pacific
Fundación para la Justicia y el Estado Democrático de Derecho – Mexico
Comitato Immigrati in Italia – Italy
Association of Concerned Filipinos (ACFIL) – Hong Kong
Filipino Migrant Workers’ Union (FMWU) – Hong Kong
Indonesian Migrant Workers’ Union (IMWU) – Hong Kong
Asosiasi Tenaga Kerja Indonesia (ATKI) – Hong Kong
LIKHA Cultural Group – Hong Kong
Palawan Migrants’ Association (PMA) – Hong Kong
Action for Peace and Development in the Philippines (APDP) – Australia
Philippines-Australia Cultural Interaction Network (PACIN) – Australia
National Alliance for Filipino Concerns, Southern California (NAFCON-SoCal) – USA
Kalipunan ng mga Filipinong Nagkakaisa (KAFIN) – Japan
Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER) – Philippines
Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) – Philippines
Gabriela Women’s Partylist (GWP) – Philippines
Center for Women’s Resources (CWR) – Philippines
Concerned Mothers’ League (CML) – Philippines
Samahan ng Maralitang Kababaihang Nagkakaisa (SAMAKANA) – Philippines
International Migration Resource Center (IMRC) – Philippines
Kalipunan ng Migranteng Pilipino at Pamilya (KMPP) – Philippines
Crispin B. Beltran Resource Center (CBBRC) – Philippines
Urban Poor Resource Center (UPRC) – Philippines
Working for Empowerment and Good Governance Institute, Inc. (WeGovern Institute) – Philippines
Association for the Rights of Children in Southeast Asia (ARCSEA-Philippines)
Children’s Rehabilitation Center (CRC) – Philippines
Lila Pilipina – Philippines
ProGay – Philippines
Families of slain workers in the January 2011 Eton Residences tragedy trooped to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on the commemoration of the International Human Rights Day today as they slammed the impunity over the rampant neglect of workers’ rights in workplaces.
Led by the Justice for Eton 11 Network, the families pointed out that the tragedy, wherein 10 construction workers were killed and another one injured in a gondola crash, is a “grim reminder of how those who committed industrial manslaughter are still living comfortably while forcing workers to toil on more multi-billion skyscrapers.”
“The slain Eton workers were deprived of the right to decent wages, right to security of tenure, right to safe working conditions. Now almost two years after the tragedy, they are still deprived of justice,”
Marissa Cristobal, mother of slain Eton construction worker Benbon Cristobal, said.
Cristobal, along with three other victim’s families, are still waiting for the decision of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) on their complaint on underpayment of wages.
Vicente Pinon, father of another slain Eton worker, had won at the NLRC against Eton Property Philippines Inc. owner Lucio Tan and other respondents on a separate wage complaint. But the NLRC modified its original decision last month as it exonerated Lucio Tan from any liability.
A Makati regional trial court has also dismissed the reckless imprudence case filed against Eton and its contractors twice.
“A climate of impunity persists in construction sites as the main labor rights violators in the Eton case have yet to be held accountable. It is then not surprising why we continue to receive complaints on underpayment of wages, forced overtime work, and haphazard work conditions from construction workers,” said Anna Leah Escresa, one of the convenors of the Justice for Eton 11 Network.
“As Eton workers’ families cry for justice up to now, President Aquino carries a big black eye as far as labor rights are concerned. As long as Lucio Tan and the contractors are not held liable, we can expect other property development sites to be modern-day slavery sites – where workers literally toil to death,” Escresa concluded.
A band of workers, urban poor and farmers gathered at University of the Philippines Diliman on Saturday to lead the launching of “Paaralang Gat Andres Bonifacio” as part of the series of events leading to the Filipino working class hero’s 150th birth anniversary next year.
Wearing red bandanas around their necks, the new “Bonifacios” vowed to continue the Filipino revolutionary’s struggle for national independence and democracy amid lingering foreign intervention in the country’s affairs.
“Today, a new blood of ‘Katipuneros’ has vowed to educate more Filipinos on Bonifacio’s heroism and on the relevance of his democratic and nationalist cause, especially as we now see signs that we have yet to achieve genuine independence more than a century after the Spanish colonizers left,” said Anna Leah Escresa, executive director of the Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER).
EILER said the “Paaralang Gat Andres Bonifacio” will be holding a series of lectures among different sectors in different venues to raise consciousness on Bonifacio’s ideals.
Escresa cited the recent expose on the toxic waste dumped on Subic by the US military last month during the military exercises. “Have we really achieved independence when our country is merely used as training ground of American troops and dumpsite of toxic wastes?” she asked.
“That is why we need to stir nationalist fervor among Filipinos today. As a country which suffered episodes of colonial rule, we must now have a united voice for genuine independence. We had enough of foreign domination,” Escresa said.
During the lecture on Saturday, Prof. Dorotheo Abaya of UP Manila presented a historical paper which sheds light on the less documented life of Bonifacio. The paper acknowledges the leader of Katipunan as the first Filipino president, contrary to mainstream history which recognizes Emilio Aguinaldo instead.
Paaralang Bonifacio will hold its second session at the College of Arts and Sciences in UP Manila on Nov. 24. Interested participants can register by contacting EILER at 433-9287 or through eile...@gmail.com.
A labor NGO has urged Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz to release the department’s report on companies which do not comply with the minimum wage, as it also criticized the new salary system for private sector workers that condones such violations.
The Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (Eiler) said DOLE cites the existence of “millions of vulnerable workers” who are unprotected by the minimum wage as the main basis for implementing the Two-Tiered Wage System, yet has failed to present a study backing up this claim.
“In the interest of transparency, Labor Secretary Baldoz should release the full results of DOLE’s inspection regarding compliance with the minimum wage law. Otherwise, she is only confirming workers’s suspicion that the new wage system is just the result of the government agency’s collusion with big business,” Eiler executive director Anna Leah Escresa said.
“Failure to release such report only traps workers in underpayment of wages and condones the greed of various firms in the country,” she added, citing a study showing that some 15 percent of surveyed companies in the Philippines are violating the minimum wage law as per DOLE press release.
Eiler noted that in August 2010, DOLE promised to identify firms which do not comply with the mandated minimum wage.
Escresa explained that on top of the firms’ non-compliance, the labor department has unfortunately rolled out the Two-Tiered Wage System (2TWS) that actually condones rampant underpayment of wages in the country.
“By setting a floor wage that is way lower than the mandated minimum wage, DOLE through the 2TWS is letting greedy violators off the hook. Suddenly, the criminal deeds of companies becomes legalized,” Escresa said.
The labor think-tank cited the case of Region IV-A, where the P337 minimum wage is cut by 25 percent to P255 as the new floor wage.
“Apart from clearing greedy companies from underpayment of wages, the 2TWS directly imposes a cut on workers’ wages and pulls down bargaining capacities of unionized workers. Companies will definitely use the lower wage standards to shortchange unions,” Escresa emphasized. “This anti-worker wage scheme must be immediately junked”
A livelihood project for women by the staff of a Philippine NGO has made it to the list of finalists in a UN Women-sponsored tilt in Singapore.
Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research’s (EILER) “Project Stitch”, a sewer’s cooperative project for women in Manila’s poor communities, was chosen by Project Inspire as one of the finalists in its “5 Minutes to Change the World” call for video entries. Project Inspire is sponsored by the Singapore Committee for UN Women and MasterCard. EILER’s Staff who entered in the competition is composed of Soleil Erika Manzano, Marian Santos, and Jose Maningat.
“We are very happy with the inclusion of Project Stitch in the list of finalists. By making it to the finals, we have already contributed to raising awareness on the plight of Filipino garment workers who carry the burden of raising their families amid limited economic opportunities,” said EILER Staff Team Representative for the Project Stitch, Soleil Erika Manzano.
Manzano said Project Stitch aims to aid Filipino women workers displaced from shutdown of several garment factories by organizing them in cooperatives and equipping them with entrepreneurial skills. The project also aims to enable the displaced women garment workers in empowering their fellow women in the poor communities by equipping them livelihood skills.
Last year, a Philippine project dubbed as “Hapinoy” won the grand prize in the search for innovative ideas on women empowerment and social change.
Aside from the grand prize, a People’s Choice Award will be given to the project with the most Facebook votes.
“We do hope another Philippine project will win again in the competition. In Facebook, we can help the project win by voting “Project Stitch” in Project Inspire’s Facebook account,” Manzano said.
Project Stitch page for voting: http://www.5minutestochangetheworld.org/get_involved_2012finalists_ProjectStitch.php
Project Inspire’s main page:
Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research, Inc. (EILER), a labor NGO based in Quezon City, strongly condemns the recent killing of two civil society leaders, Romualdo Palispis and William Geertman, in separate incidents on Saturday and Tuesday.
Romualdo Palispis, chair of Justice and Peace Action Group of Aurora (JPAG) and head of Task Force Huwag Hatiin ang Bayan ng Maria Aurora (Do Not Divide Maria Aurora), was shot dead Saturday evening in his house in the town of Maria Aurora. He was active in opposing the proposal to reduce Maria Aurora’s lands to create a municipality out of it.
Meanwhile, William Geertman, executive director of disaster relief NGO Alay Bayan Inc., was gunned down in his office in Angeles City on Tuesday afternoon. He has lived in the Philippines for the past 46 years.
The murder of Palispis and Geertman affirms the failure of the Aquino administration to protect even human rights defenders and advocates in the country, which is ironically cited for a vibrant NGO community. Their profiles indicate that their assassination is politically motivated and could be part of the government’s counterinsurgency program “Oplan Bayanihan.”
We call for an immediate investigation and swift justice for all victims of politically-motivated killings in the country. We also challenge the Aquino administration to take urgent action over the spate of killings happening under its watch.
As state representatives gather in the Rio+20 Summit in Brazil, a Manila-based NGO exposed the false promise of “green jobs” of supposedly easing global unemployment while promoting green practices in workplaces.
Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER) said that the green jobs initiative, which pushes for job creation along the lines of ecosystem protection/ rehabilitation and waste reduction, “cannot match the scale and rate at which corporations are exploiting the environment and cutting workforce worldwide.”
“Promoting green jobs and green practices in workplaces cannot compensate for the large-scale devastation of ecosystems, continuing mass layoffs, and declining quality of work around the globe precisely because of the ever growing corporate greed,” said EILER executive director Anna Leah Escresa.
Escresa said even the most optimistic projections of job creation under the green economy pales in comparison with the more than 200 million jobless people worldwide. In terms of climate response, she said green jobs can hardly cause a dent in carbon emissions by private corporations. Also, she said that governments convening in the Rio +20 Summit should not pin their hopes on green economy as recovery route from the continuing global economic crisis.
“The transition set for green economy proposed in Rio +20 includes marketization of environment and natural resources. That would lead to greater resource plunder and profiteering from ecological services. We should remember that the financial institutions expected to lead the transition to green economy are the same entities which led to the outburst of the global financial crisis in 2008 with unregulated profiteering from leverages and derivatives,” Escresa said.
“For our workers, the green jobs creation in green economy relies mostly on speculation that there will be real investments in clean and green industries in the immediate future. And if ever created, green jobs does not automatically mean decent work for workers with decent living wages and their rights respected,” she added.
Thus, green economy and green jobs are mere catchwords that provide a smokescreen for the more rabid hunt and extraction of resources, corporate creep in agriculture and environmental preservation, and retrenchment of supposedly redundant jobs in the name of efficiency,” Escresa pointed out.
Escresa also warned that in the Philippines, the green jobs initiative could be used by firms to take over the government’s environmental programs and profiteer from biodiversity areas under the guise of providing “green technologies” and environmental services.
“Companies can pretend to create green jobs by offering a host of green services, such as constructing sustainable irrigation networks, harnessing renewable energy and managing critical watersheds, possibly via public-private partnerships (PPP). But such ploy would reduce the government’s role in environmental preservation while giving corporations new areas for profiteering,” Escresa said.
EILER criticized the Aquino government for peddling the green jobs hoax to Filipino workers as it held last year the country’s first Green Jobs Conference, wherein the Green Call to Action was signed by some labor federations.
“The Aquino administration should stop this green gimmickry and instead arrest the continuing onslaught of corporations on the environment and labor, especially in light of the worsening global crisis,” Escresa concluded.
The recent approval of tuition fee increase in 267 private colleges and universities will force more Filipinos to drop tertiary education and join the swelling ranks of the unemployed in the country, according to a labor NGO.
Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER) said rising cost of tertiary education will contribute to the rising number of unemployed youth in the country, which currently constitutes half of the total 2.9 million unemployed as of January 2012.
“Filipino workers obviously cannot afford higher private education costs since wages do not catch up with the annual tuition hikes and regular spike in commodity prices. As a result, more college undergraduates will quit schooling to look for jobs. The problem however is that the number of available jobs isn’t really sufficient for the growing number of jobseekers,” said EILER head researcher Carlos Maningat.
“Data from the labor department shows that unemployed Filipinos who are college undergraduates rose to 323,000 in July 2011 from 309,000 in 2009, hinting that more and more college drop-outs end up in the unemployment line,” he added.
Maningat said the continuing rise in joblesness among college undergraduates proves that the much touted business process outsourcing (BPO) industry boom cannot cushion the worsening youth unemployment in the country.
“The Aquino administration should stop peddling false promises by saying that the BPO industry can provide jobs for college dropouts. It should instead address the very high dropout rate among college students by moving to provide more subsidies to state universities and imposing moratorium on tuition hikes in private colleges,” Maningat asserted.