Workers union gives Aquino failing mark

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Thursday, May 1, 2014


A LABOR group gave President Benigno Aquino III a "poor rating" for allegedly failing to address the country's high unemployment rate.

Former senator Ernesto Herrera, who is also the president of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), said that when Aquino assumed his post in 2010, the official national unemployment rate was at 7.0 percent but it worsened in the past four years, soaring to 7.5-percent as of January 2014.

"We are deeply disappointed that up to now, the administration has not offered, not even in broad strokes, clear-cut strategies as to how it intends to forcefully create new jobs," said Herrera.

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On a scale of 1 to 10, TUCP gave Aquino a score of below five.

He said the country needs aggressive and actionable strategies to propel jobs growth in an orderly manner and remove hurdles to full employment.

"We also need extra 'fast break' measures to create new jobs for marginal households," Herrera said.

He noted that the fast break measures should include the use of all available assets, including idle or non-performing government land, for public housing and other highly labor-intensive projects, and community employment programs tied to infrastructure projects.

The former senator cited a recent study from the Philippine Statistics Authority last January wherein a total of 10.07-million able-bodied Filipinos in the labor force "were either totally jobless (2.97-million unemployed), or had little work and were desperately looking for additional work and income (7.10-million underemployed)."

"Although the last reported official unemployment rate was 7.5-percent as of January, a separate survey by the Social Weather Stations showed that a total of 12.1 million individuals were completely without work in the last quarter of 2013, implying a much higher jobless rate of 27.5-percent," the report stated.

Herrera said the country has to create three to four million new jobs every year over the next five years, to bridge the unemployment gap and bring the nation to newly industrialized status.

"Jobs provide people with incomes that enable them to buy goods and services or to save. The increase in consumption stimulates the market, builds up the economy and provides additional revenue for government. And the accumulation of savings provides more funds for investment," Herrera said.

He cited the need for government to take the lead in creating jobs. He proposed a national employment plan that would compel every agency and state-owned firm to carry out more labor-intensive projects.

Herrera said the government should focus on public works that have the highest job-creation potential and generate the highest returns. (Sunnex)

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