Help displaced workers, gov't urged 

TWO administration solons have expressed concern over the number of Filipino workers who have lost their jobs in the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas and Marikina Rep. Stella Quimbo both underscored the  need for the government to look for ways  to help workers survive.

Vargas proposed to business owners to hire people within their business' immediate vicinity or what he called “backyard” hiring policy.

The solon asked if the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) can somehow intervene and urge businesses that have several branches spread out all over the metropolis to share information amongst themselves and swap employees should particular employees reside near their branch, hopefully within walking or biking distance. 

“The same can be explored for factories that have started operating again,” Vargas, vice chairman of the House committee on appropriations, said.

“The key phrase here is ‘as far as practicable’ as definitely, the skill set needed in one enterprise might not necessarily match the skill set of the “neighbor-worker”.  But information must be put out there so that businesses and workers can help each other out,” he added.

For her part, Quimbo is pushing for the creation of a National Unemployment Insurance Program.

Unemployment rate is already at 17.7 percent and it is an all-time high since 1956.

“The pandemic is a wake-up call.  we need a better social protection program for workers. When it comes to worker’s social protection, we’re behind our ASEAN neighbors. Sa isang pag-aaral ng International Labour Organization, kumpara sa ilang karatig-bansa natin, mas limitado ang ating unemployment benefits samantalang may 4 na bansa nang nagpapatupad ng unemployment insurance scheme sa Timog Silangang Asya. We need a national unemployment insurance program that is capable of intertemporal risk pooling that can protect workers even during a period of massive unemployment caused by a general economic downturn.” Quimbo said.

Rep. Quimbo filed a bill creating a National Unemployment Insurance Program that includes compulsory participation by formal sector employees; voluntary participation by the self-employed and workers in the informal sector, through incentives; progressive, income-based premium contributions; shared premium contributions among the government, employer, and employee; basic unemployment insurance benefits limited to at most 3 monthly payments; additional benefits in the form of training, training allowances, and job counselling for the unemployed and the  creation of a Philippine Job Insurance Corporation (“PhilJob”),

The bill states that with a monthly contribution of about 40 pesos by a worker earning 500 pesos per day, the proposed program provides for unemployment insurance payments amounting to 80 percent of the worker’s basic pay prior to involuntary separation from work.

“This is intended to ensure that lost income is temporarily and partially restored so that expenditures of a family are not drastically reduced when the household head loses his or her job and financial support is provided for job search,” Quimbo also said.