The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) welcomes findings of the Philippine Statistics Authority that employment numbers remain high at 95.2% or 44.63 million. However, TUCP notes that unemployment increased to 4.8%, translating to 2.27 million, while stubborn double-digit underemployment ballooned to 15.9%, translating to 7.10 million. “The double-digit underemployment, precisely underscores His Excellency President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos, Jr.’s directive to key Government agencies that much needs to be done to provide more and better jobs to the millions who either have no job at all as well as to those who have a job yet are still seeking additional work because what they earn is not sufficient to provide their respective families a decent life,” stated TUCP Vice President Luis Corral. ” A heroic all-of-society response is needed not just to restore or create jobs but to enhance job quality,” said the TUCP Vice President.
The PSA report indicated the Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR), defined as the proportion of total labor force to the total household population 15 years and over, significantly decreased to 60.1% in July 2023 from 66.1% last month.
“The decreasing LFPR confirms the deepening problem of poor quality of jobs such that workers are already working double-time or even triple-time to survive while applicants are already growing frustrated in their job search, and instead focusing on household duties, going back to school, or worst, already becoming discouraged from the current offerings in the job market,” explained Corral.
The TUCP looks forward to the full implementation of the Department of Labor and Employment Plan (LEP) 2023-2028. Since last year, we have called on the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to immediately come up with the LEP to ensure decent work is front and center in our economic recovery and growth strategies.
“What we encourage, however, in the LEP is the urgent need for DOLE, as part of the Government’s economic team, to go beyond mere job facilitation, such as job fairs, towards partnership, with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), to develop a public employment program. We cannot simply and solely rely on the reopening of the economy and depend on the private sector for job creation. Likewise, we cannot leave the task of ending precarious work and ENDO to mere chance, otherwise whatever jobs are available will just be low-end gig work or temporary contractual work. The Government must be at the forefront of uplifting the lives of millions trapped in poverty through decent work for all, and should look beyond the ‘poverty trap’ of facilitating low-end temporary, contractual work and focus on creating decent work,” underscored Corral.
“No less than our President is leading from the front in establishing the Philippines as a priority investment destination through his efforts to bring in foreign direct investments (FDIs) to the country which would translate into hundreds of thousands of new, permanent, and decent jobs for all Filipinos. It is incumbent upon government agencies, especially the DOLE and the DTI, to reciprocate his modern and modernizing leadership,” stated Corral.
As the Marcos Administration’s partner in labor, we also proposed the TUCP JOBS AGENDA towards a vibrant resilient labor market through a letter dated 17 July 2023 to President Marcos, centered on how to shift from the restorations of jobs lost during the pandemic to the creation of new, permanent, and decent jobs:
(a) REBRANDING PHILIPPINES AS INVESTMENT DESTINATION. To reiterate, a pro-labor rights pivot in the Philippines can help the country redraw the competition standards in ASEAN. From the pure cost of doing business standpoint, compared to some ASEAN neighbors primarily because of expensive yet unreliable electricity, to one which places a premium on labor rights observance as a competitive edge given the sensitivity of the global market to labor rights compliance.
(b) NATIONAL RAILWAY SYSTEM CONNECTING REGIONAL AND PROVINCIAL AGRI-INDUSTRIAL HUBS. This will create new jobs, ensure food security, decongest urban metropolitan areas, and democratize wealth creation by promoting rural development and job generation. It will ultimately lower the cost of doing business throughout the countryside, incentivizing the entry of foreign investments and the expansion of business operations of existing locators.
(c) SUSTAINABLE INDUSTRIAL POLICY. Formulate an industry promotion strategy anchored on identifying the priority sectors for each region and matching them with available skills based on their respective comparative advantage, and the provision as well of fiscal incentives.
(d) JUST TRANSITION. Job creation initiatives and emergency employment programs must be expanded for green jobs, such as in renewable energy, pollution reduction, natural resources conservation, and environmental compliance, and to usher in the transition to sustainable urban jobs by organizing the informal sector or the unemployed into small-scale enterprise cooperatives. Likewise, adopt measures to safeguard the rights of workers to freedom of association in the modern digital economy. Digital transformation ushers in new, higher quality, and more meaningful jobs through improved productivity due to modern technologies. The Government must allocate a Just Transition Fund to ensure human-centered and worker-friendly solutions, such as via massive reskilling and upskilling, to seize new employment opportunities for green jobs and digital jobs.
“With our TUCP JOBS AGENDA as the plank of our public employment program, the TUCP stands ready to partner with the Government in establishing that the Philippines is open for business once again and in putting Filipinos back to work through new, permanent, and decent jobs for all,” underscored Corral.