Trade Union Congress of the Philippines - TUCP

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) welcomed the increase in employment and decreased unemployment numbers, but it remains gravely concerned as underemployment increased to 12.9% in April from 11.2% in March. “We are stuck at double digits for far too long already. 2.26 million are out of work while the 6.20 million employed are still seeking additional work because their measly salaries, further depressed by inflation, are no longer enough to feed their families and lead decent lives. The World Bank noted that low-quality jobs threaten the Philippines’ growth as precarious work—contractualization, ENDO work, low-end gig work, informal work, and job sharing/rotation—without living wages and without security of tenure persists,” said TUCP Vice President Luis Corral.

“The economic managers cannot solely rely on the reopening of the economy and the private sector for job creation. Further, they cannot leave the task of ending precarious work to mere chance. Government must be at the forefront of uplifting the lives of millions trapped in poverty through decent work for all. The economic managers must step up their game. No less than President Marcos is leading from the front in establishing the Philippines as a priority investment destination through his earnest efforts to bring in foreign direct investments (FDIs) which should translate into hundreds of thousands of new, permanent, and decent jobs for all Filipinos,” stated TUCP Vice President Corral.

This came at the heels of the March 2023 Social Weather Station (SWS) survey wherein 19% of the labor force or 8.7 million adult Filipinos are jobless. 69% of Filipino adults also say that finding a job these days is hard, which has been the case since 2011.

“President Marcos is providing this golden opportunity to reverse our long unfortunate history of lack of political will and economic imagination in previous Administrations, which sidelined job creation, perpetuated precarious work, and led to the substantial outmigration of our people. As a modern and modernizing president, President Marcos remains our ‘best salesman’ to pitch to the world that the Philippines is ‘open for business’ once again as a competitive investment destination for sustainable business and decent jobs,” emphasized Corral.

The TUCP pointed out that President Marcos forged the US-Philippines special friendship and alliance which will potentially bring in billions of dollars of investment which will translate into new, permanent, and decent jobs. President Marcos also secured President Biden’s commitment to send a presidential trade and investment mission to the Philippines. Next year, the sixth annual Indo-Pacific Business Forum (IPBF)—an international gathering of business and government leaders—will be held in Manila. The President is also pushing for the reauthorization of the US GSP which will open up tariff-free access of Philippine exports to the American market for potentially 3,500 product lines and open up new job opportunities.

Further, the President is also pitching for the resumption of the negotiations for the Philippine EU Free Trade Agreement (PH-EU FTA) as well as pushing for the renewal of the EU GSP+ set to expire by the end of 2023. The EU GSP+ provides the Philippines’ tariff-free access to over 6,274 product lines to the EU market which translates to around 200,000 decent jobs.

“All these trade privileges and prospective bilateral agreements are tied to the Philippines’ compliance with the fundamental labor rights and core labor standards. We remind our economic managers, state security forces, and employers that addressing workers’ issues and passing pro-worker policies serve as an international seal of good housekeeping for sustainable businesses to export tariff-free to foreign markets and Filipino workers to get new, permanent, and decent jobs. Together, let us seize this ‘win-win’ opportunity for both workers and employers by mirroring the President’s leadership and tireless efforts in making the Philippines the newest investment hub,” underscored Corral.

“Until and unless that is inculcated among our social partners in the Government and the businesses, we run the serious risk of losing our trade privileges and unwittingly compromising the President’s earnest efforts to attract FDIs to the country. No one will do business in a nation that is consistently ranked infamously as one of the worst countries for workers. We believe that under President Marcos’ leadership, we will have an opportunity to depart from this troubling track record by seeking reform and accountability towards positively changing our labor rights record for the better,” added Corral.

The TUCP said that it looks forward to partnering with the Marcos Administration as it rebuilds foundations for job creation and pursues initiatives to bring in much-needed investments. “We have repeatedly called on our Economic Managers to adopt the TUCP JOBS AGENDA and ask them to prioritize our calls again,” said Corral.

The TUCP JOBS AGENDA has proposed for the following:

  1. 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.
  2.  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. Fiscal incentives should also be put in place for these priority sectors.
  3. 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.

“The TUCP believes that the Philippines’ pro-labor pivot and adopting the TUCP JOBS AGENDA can bring us out of the rut of precarious work and set us on the right track towards the creation of new, permanent, and decent jobs. Together, let us be partners for the plight of our workers and the prosperity of our people towards wider markets, more investors, and more and better jobs for all,” emphasized Corral.

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