Workers criticize government for failure to generate decent jobs

Members of various labor federations and allied groups, taking part in the forthcoming Peoples’ Global Action on Migration, Development and Human Rights, trooped today in front of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to mark tomorrow’s observance of the “World Day for Decent Work”

“Today’s picket is primarily staged to make the Arroyo government accountable for failing to provide decent work to Filipino people.” Josua Mata, Secretary General of Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) said. Mata added that the Philippines is one of the signatories to the International Labor Organization’s call “Decent Work for All”. “But the Philippine government has consistently failed to live up to its commitment to generate decent jobs and to protect the same, forcing workers to migrate. Decent work does not include prostitution where many women migrants are trapped. Worst, its track record in “promoting” decent work is seriously marred by its undeclared war against trade union.” Mata added.

Trade unions have been in the forefront of struggle against the policies of this government which according to them are not in tune to creating decent and permanent jobs for workers. For years, trade unions vehemently opposed the labor flexibility policies and privatization which leads to massive dislocation of workers.

Even those who have permanent status and been working for many years are not spared. Early this year, government sold PNCC Skyway to CITRA, resulting to mass retrenchment of more than 600 workers. Now more than 4,000 workers of Transco could be sacked should government succeed in privatizing the country’s transmission lines.

“What can you expect from a government that can’t even take care of its own employees?”, lamented Jillian Roque of the Public Services-Labor Independent Confederation (PS-Link). Roque lambasted government for denying decent wages for its teacher. “This is one major reason why teachers have been migrating abroad. Some to work as domestic workers,” Roque added.

“The truth is, government is the biggest violator of workers’ constitutional right to job security,” Mike Maga of the Confederation of Independent Unions in the Public Sector (CIU) said. This situation was exacerbated by government’s Rationalization Plan (EO 366), which led to the replacement of permanent workers with contractual employees. Today, there are hundreds of thousands of contractual employees toiling in government bureaucracy, some for many years now.

As part of the Peoples Global Action, the workers urged the government to scrap its “labor export policy”.

Ellene Sana, Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA) explained that, “We in Peoples’ Global Action is not against migration per se. But it should not be a “forced migration. But what is happening, the government is the one selling our workers (both professional and skilled) to the world by entering into agreements with other advanced countries. This is tantamount to commodifying our workers. “

The group said that instead of scavenging job opportunities abroad, government should put full employment at the center of all its policies. This can only be achieved through industrialization, which in turn would require a whole new set of fiscal, monetary, trade, industrial and other policies.

“That is why, come October 22-30, as we engage in the official Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) we will work hard to put forward the Philippine Civil Society position that will strongly urge our government and other governments to include the issues of human rights in the realm of migration and not just talk about the financial benefits that migrants have been contributing to their countries economy. “ Ellene Sana added.

“Why hail our migrants as “Bagong Bayani”, when this government cannot guarantee them protection. They save our economy but we cannot save them from dire distress and unfortunate fate.” The group lamented.

Contact: Agnes Matienzo (MFA Secretariat) – Tel. No. 4333508 or

Aladin Diega (Kanlungan) – 09182257228

Jessie (AKBAYAN) – 09272466808

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