Friday, October 22, 2021

‘Labor is being pushed to the edge’

THE recent marches of pandemic-related events along with the decision to place some areas under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) are pushing the workers and their families to the edge of their economic existence.

This was stressed by Wennie Sancho, secretary general of General Alliance of Workers Associations (Gawa).

Sancho, also the labor representative to the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) in Western Visayas, said reeling from the onslaught of the pandemic, it would be extremely difficult for labor to keep their heads above water with the imposition of additional economic restriction.

“That would be pushing them beyond the limits of their human endurance in terms of economic survival,” he added.

Citing the data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the unemployment rate nationwide is 7.7 percent as of June 2021, translating to about 3.6 million unemployed Filipinos.

With the advisory of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to implement lockdowns in areas where there is a surge of coronavirus disease (Covid-19), he believes that this will compound the problems with more business company closures for those who could no longer survive.

To survive competition, Sancho said, product lines are being outsourced to others that can manufacture at a lower cost.

The scale of operations and the number of workers are downsized. Lean production, just-in-time manufacture, and virtual offices are adopted, Sancho said.

“Restrictions such as lockdowns result to corporate restructuring and closures that will lead to the displacement of workers and the whole community,” he said, lamenting that displaced workers often cannot find equivalent employment on account of age or due to lack of marketable skills.

For Gawa, large business corporations that are closing initiates a domino effect.

Displaced workers and new entrants who cannot find employment in the formal sector source out their living in the swelling informal sector where there are no social benefits and protection, it said.

The labor group also lamented that the workers are being pushed to the edge of their miserable economic existence.

“With the continued erosion of their purchasing power due to inflation and the unabated increases in the prices of basic goods and services in the midst of the pandemic, they could hardly provide for the basic needs of their families due to the diminution of their real wages,” it added.

Its secretary general added that pandemic and social restrictions such as lockdowns and the “no-vaccination don't go out” policy of Malacañang abets poverty, unemployment and social exclusion.

Workers are being displaced and the communities are being dislocated by the changing nature of work, the workplace and the character of the workforce. Job security is waning, employment security is still far from being achieved, Sancho said.

The labor leader stressed that pandemic and social restrictions result in the breakdown of traditional labor relations which add to the insecurity in the work and life of the workers.

“Covid-19 will be here for a while. If the government could not address the problem of massive unemployment, the worst is yet to come,” he said, asking that “if we are on the edge of a cliff, where do we go from here?”


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