Trade Union Congress of the Philippines - TUCP

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) has long called for sustainable and dynamic job creation amid the persistence of poor job quality, prevalence of job sharing/rotation schemes, and the lack of full regular employment. Let us stop wishful thinking and window dressing of precarious work as ‘employment.’ Let us have a public employment plan tied to the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) and let us also fast-track the badly-needed national Labor and Employment Plan (LEP). Ultimately, let us swiftly move from the restoration of jobs lost to the pandemic to the creation of new, permanent, and decent jobs that will provide family living wages to today’s generation and the many more generations that will follow.

According to the latest Social Weather Station (SWS) survey, 19% of the labor force or 8.7 million adult Filipinos are jobless as of March 2023. This is way above the Philippine Statistic Authority’s (PSA) March 2023 Labor Force Survey combined 4.7% unemployment rate of 4.7% (2.42 million unemployed) and 11.2% underemployment rate (5.44 million underemployed), totaling 15.9% or 7.86 million Filipinos who are either out of work or seeking additional work because their measly salaries further depressed by inflation are not enough to feed their families and lead decent lives.

The SWS joblessness figures have always been significantly greater than the PSA labor force figures essentially because of conceptual differences in defining employment. First, the adult population surveyed by SWS are those at least 18 years old while SWS surveys those at least 15 years old in terms of the official labor force parameters. Second and more fundamentally, SWS asks if the respondent is currently working at present while PSA sets forth the criterion of at least one hour of work to be counted as employed. This only confirms our long-standing critique that it is ridiculous for the PSA to claim those working for even just one hour a week as “employed”, hence camouflaging and disguising the actual extent of joblessness and the true dire labor situation in country—that there are really no new, decent, and permanent jobs out there.

The TUCP steps up the calls for the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to fast-track the long-overdue Labor and Employment Plan (LEP) which is still being finalized and will be presented in June, fully one year late into the Marcos Administration. We badly need that playbook towards living wages, permanent decent jobs, and public sector job creation.

It must dawn on our Economic Managers that the Government cannot rely solely on the reopening of the economy and the private sector to create new, permanent, and decent jobs. This should be a wake-up call for them to adopt the TUCP JOBS AGENDA as the roadmap to inclusive growth and toward building a fair and more decent society:

(a) NATIONAL RAILWAY SYSTEM CONNECTING AGRI-INDUSTRIAL HUBS. This will massively 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.

(b) 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.

(c) PROVIDE FINANCIAL AND TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE TO MSMEs. Provide more grant facilities, capitalization support, low-interest lending programs, loan-forgiveness programs, and temporary tax deferrals for MSMEs premised on retaining their current employees and/or hiring more workers.

Enough with the rosy picture—precarious work as robust “employment” and inclusive growth—falsely painted by our economic managers because it is a grave disservice to the Marcos Administration and our people. Until and unless we shift gears from the restoration of jobs lost during the pandemic to the creation of new, permanent, and decent jobs, millions of new entrants to the labor force will be condemned as the permanent working poor routinely piling up for precarious work—contractual, endo work, low-end gig work, informal work, and job sharing/rotation schemes—continuously suffering the day-to-day grind with no hope and no future.

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