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Job creation volatile, mostly of poor quality work

by IBON Media

Research group IBON said that the recently reported job generation is mostly in poor quality work and confirms volatile labor market conditions rather than a strengthening economy.

The group made the statement after the recent release of seemingly favorable employment figures and warned against complacency.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported an increase in the number of employed by 2.3 million and an increase in the number of unemployed by 103,000 in July 2019 from the previous year.

The employment and unemployment rates stayed the same as last year at 94.6% and 5.4%, respectively.

IBON however said that the extreme volatility in the labor market since 2016, for instance, should temper overenthusiasm that the economy and the labor force situation is improving.

Millions of Filipinos are making do with poor quality work and hundreds of thousands more are in and out of work.

The group recalled that the reported 2.3 million additional employment in 2016 reversed to 664,000 net job losses in 2017.

In 2018, 2.4 million new jobs were reported generated in the January labor force survey round, measured year on year, but this reversed to 218,000 net job losses in the October round.

The situation remains as volatile so far this year, ranging from 387,000 net job losses in January 2019 to the recently reported 2.3 million job creation in July 2019.

This volatility indicates Filipinos struggling to find work where they can on a day-to-day basis rather than a strengthening economy creating steady jobs paying decent incomes, IBON stressed.

Looking at employed persons in terms of hours worked, 2.2 million or an overwhelming part of the net 2.3 million additional employed in July 2019 was actually just in part-time work of less than 40 hours.

This caused the share of part-time work in employment to markedly rise from 28.2% to 31.8 percent.

Looking at employed persons by class of worker, IBON pointed out that the biggest employment increases were actually in low-earning, insecure, and informal work, as well as in unpaid family work.

The number of self-employed without paid employees grew by 1.1 million and the number of unpaid family workers grew by 854,000.

Finally, IBON said that looking at the three biggest job-creating sectors also does not give confidence.

The sectors creating the most jobs included wholesale and retail trade which grew by 820,000, and accommodation and food service by 292,000.

These subsectors are notorious for high informality and uncertainty, the group said.

IBON noted the 716,000 increase in agricultural employment but pointed out that this is likely only momentary because agricultural employment is in long-term decline especially from lack of government support for the sector.

IBON also commented on the underemployment rate falling significantly from 17.2% in July 2018 to 13.9% in July 2019.

This is equivalent to the 7 million underemployed last year falling to just 6 million this year.

The group said that while falling underemployment is commonly used as a proxy for improving quality of work, the latter is not necessarily what is happening.

Underemployment refers to employed persons wanting additional hours of work in their present job, an additional job, or a new job with longer working hours.

IBON explained that the large drop in the underemployed is possibly only because workers are already working such long hours that they do not want additional hours in their present job, cannot take on an additional job, or cannot imagine a new job with even longer hours.

The breakdown of reported underemployed persons is not inconsistent with this, the group said.

The number of those working 40 hours and over in a week, or the invisibly underemployed, fell by a huge 1.5 million from 3.7 million in July 2018 to 2.2 million in July 2019.

Those who worked less than 40 hours, or the, visibly underemployed, meanwhile, increased by 352,000, hence the net decrease of some 1.1 million total underemployed.

IBON said that while more employment is always desirable, government should ensure that jobs are decent and sustainable.

But as long as government neglects the development of domestic agriculture and industries to generate stable and quality work, the jobs crisis will continue to worsen, and Filipinos will keep grappling with poor job prospects. #

Striking workers are parents too

By Sanafe E. Marcelo

Photo by Sanafe Marcelo/Kodao

“I will do everything to send my children to school. I do not want them to experience this kind of difficult work,” said Marifor Busadre, 32, a mother of four and a contractual worker of Peerless Manufacturing Company (Pepmaco) for three years running.

Mariflor endures all kinds of pain at work, such as skin rashes because of direct contact with strong chemicals used for the manufacture of Pepmaco’s detergent products such as Champion. As a packer, she received P375 per day including overtime work. Her wage, way below the mandated minimum, is not enough to feed her family and it is a daily struggle to keep aside money for their other expenses such as her children’s school supplies. Her eldest is in high school.

Being a contractual worker worries her no end. “I joined this strike to fight for our rights. I am getting old. I hope that the management will grant our demand to make us regular workers and allow us back to work,” she said.

Marifor and dozens of other Pepmaco Workers Union members launched their strike last June 24. Aside from poor pay and being kept as contractual workers, they also complain of dire working conditions.

Photo by Sanafe Marcelo/Kodao

Like Marifor, Christine Sudoy, 22, is a three-year contractual worker, a mother and her family’s breadwinner. “I am worried that I can’t support the financial needs of my family. I am also worried for our health safety and work security,” Christine said, explaining why she too joined the strike. Christine said they often feel they were not being treated as humans, but as work animals and machines.

The company, she said, ordered them not to use gloves in handling the chemicals “because the products may be affected.” There were also no face masks provided, the management saying these cost too much at around P1,000 per piece. They work 12-hour shifts and days-off are prohibited. Women in the packing section carry around 11,000 kilos a day and only receive P610 a day, including overtime work. 

Aside from Champion detergent, Pepmaco also manufactures Systema toothpaste, Calla fabric conditioner, and Hana shampoo and hair conditioner.

Even if they do not succeed with their strike, Christine hopes things would be better for future Pepmaco workers. “I hope they do not experience the violations we suffered,” she said.

In the early hours of June 28, just four days into their strike, “goons wearing face masks and in full battle gear” arrived on board two vans and container vans and swooped down on the strikers’ camps while most of them were resting or sleeping. Eleven of the strikers were injured in the attack.

Photo by Sanafe Marcelo/Kodao

Romeo Aldamar, 33, nearly two years on the job as a contractual worker, was badly wounded when their picket line was attacked by company guards. “I was hit on the head, my skull and nose had bone fractures. The goons kept on spraying jets of water at me even if they could clearly see I was already bloodied,” he said.

Romeo’s wife, though still supportive of the workers’ strike, asked him to stop. But Romeo said he explained to her that he could not. “I will still stand together with the union to fight for our rights. I do this for our children,” he said.

Romeo dreams of sending his children to school and for them to finish college degrees. He said it is difficult for high school graduates like himself to find jobs. “I will endure anything for them. I wish they would never experience working in a factory like Pepmaco,” he said. #

Striking Pepmaco workers. (Photo by Sanafe Marcelo/Kodao)

Si Ate Melod at ang patuloy na pakikibaka ng SUMIFRU workers

Si Ate Melody “Melod” Gumanoy, 43 taong gulang, ay isa sa mahigit 300 manggagawa ng Sumifru, isang Japanese company sa Mindanao na nag-eexport ng mga prutas. Nagtungo sa Maynila ang mga nagwewelgang manggagawa ng Sumifru upang ipanawagan ang pagpapatigil ng kontraktwalisasyon ng kumpanya.

Mahigit 23 taon nang manggagawa si Melod sa Sumifru. Siya rin ang secretary ng Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Suyapa Farm (NAMASUFA-NAFLU-KMU). Nagsimulang magwelga ang mga manggagawa sa iba’t ibang planta ng Sumifru noong Oktubre 1, 2018, dahil ito sa pagmamatigas ng management ng kanilang kumpanya na gawin silang regular.

Sa kawalang suporta ng LGU sa kanilang lugar sa Compostela, Compostela Valley at patuloy na pandarahas sa kanila sa ilalim ng batas militar sa Mindanao, sa Maynila na nila ipinagpapatuloy ang kanilang laban. Isa lamang si Ate Melod sa marami pang kababaihang manggagawa na biktima ng hindi patas ang pagtrato, walang sapat na sahod at hanggang ngayon ay kontrakwal pa rin.

Patuloy na ipinaglalaban ng mga manggagawa ng Sumifru ang kanilang karapatan sa sapat na sahod, regularisasyon at pagkakaroon ng sapat at tamang benipisyo para sa mga kababaihan at matatanda. (Bidyo ni: Jo Maline D. Mamangun/ Kodao)

JoMag: ‘I was surprised, shocked’

Department of Labor and Employment undersecretary Joel Maglunsod said he did not receive notice of his dismissal before President Rodrigo Duterte made the announcement in a speech Tuesday in Catarman, Northern Samar.

“I was surprised, shocked even,” Maglunsod told Kodao, adding he only learned of the President’s statement when he opened his mobile phone after conducting two meetings Wednesday morning.

“Many journalists have sent me messages about PRRDs statement and that was how I learned about it,” Maglunsod said.

Duterte said he fired Maglunsod because of his association with the militant Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) the President alleged was responsible for the upsurge in labor strikes throughout the country.

[Si] Joel Maglunsod, pinaalis ko. Pinagbigyan ko sila noong bago ako  kasi gusto ko nandoon sila sa opisina, Joel Maglunsod, sila lahat,” Duterte said.

(What went before: Labor movement hails, welcomes back ‘JoMag‘)

Maglunsod said he immediately went back to the DOLE offices in Intramuros Wednesday afternoon to consult with labor and employment secretary Silvestre Bello III and other department officials.

“They too were surprised,” Maglunsod revealed.

Maglunsod said Bello asked him to “stay put” until Monday. “He told me he (Bello) will be able to know more in Monday when he meets the President during their Cabinet meeting,” Maglunsod said.

The beleaguered official also told Kodao that he called up special presidential assistant Christopher “Bong” Go to request for a meeting with Duterte.

“He said he will ask the President (about my request),” Maglunsod said.

Maglunsod, who also hails from Davao City, said he considered Duterte his friend but felt it would have been better for him if the President told him directly about his decision before the public announcement.

“But it is his prerogative as the President and appointing power,” Maglunsod said.

He added he is ready to leave his post.

“But I hold my head high. I can categorically say I did my best in performing DOLE’s mandate. I have been fair, even to the employers. I always told them that we only need to follow the law,” he said.

The country’s major labor federations, including the KMU, the Association of Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, Sentro ng Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa, and Nagkaisa Labor Coalition unanimously defended Maglunsod as the official who consistently “bridged the ‘gap of trust’ between organized labor and the department by personally acting on complaints and facing mass actions of workers at the DOLE office in Intramuros.”

“I am grateful to the labor federations who expressed support. I have not had the chance to send them messages yet, but I thank them for validating my work as DOLE undersecretary,” Maglunsod said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Mga manggagawa, nagmartsa sa Araw ng mga Bayani

Nagsama-sama ang libu-libong manggagawa sa Araw ng mga Bayani sa tinaguriang nilang “Martsa ng Manggagawa” noong Agosto 27 mula Welcome Rotonda hanggang sa Mendiola sa Maynila.

Panawagan nila na itigil na ang kontraktwalisasyon sa paggawa, ipatupad ang pambansang minimum na sahod na P750, at wakasan ang iba pang porma ng pagsasamantala sa manggagawa.

Ayon sa Kilos na Manggagawa (KnM), sa nakalipas na dalawang taon, umabot na sa 40 milyon na manggagawa sa buong bansa ay kontraktwal.

Karamihan sa mga ito ay nasa sektor ng manupaktura at serbisyo na tumatanggap din nang napakababang sahod o mas mababa pa sa minimum na sahod.

Isang halimbawa dito ay sa Southern Tagalog na umabot sa mahigit 20,000 ang kontraktwal.

Dagdag pasakit din sa mga manggagawa ang mga patakaran na ipinataw nang gubyernong Rodrigo Duterte tulad ng Department Order 174 at Executive Order 51 na sa katunayan ay nagpapatindi lamang ng iskemang endo.

Dagdag pa nang KnM, malaking dagok din ang TRAIN law na siyang bumubutas sa bulsa at kita ng mga manggagawa.

Habang binabarat ang sahod, patuloy naman na pinahihirapan ang mamamayan sa mga dagdag bayarin at buwis.

Binigyang-pugay din nila ang mga manggagawa na siyang tunay na bayani at tagalikha ng yaman.

Malaking hamon naman sa mga manggagawa na labanan ang tumitinding atake sa mga manggagawa kagaya nang pambubuwag sa mga unyon, pagpaslang at pagsasampa ng mga gawa-gawang kaso sa mga lider unyonista. # (Ulat at bidyo ni Joseph Cuevas)

‘Mas gusto pang magbayad sa security’

“Ang kapitalista, mas gusto pang magbayad sa mga militar, sa mga pulis, sa mga security kaysa bayaran yung mga manggagawang pinakikinabangan niya.”—Nenita Gonzaga, Vice President for Women, Kilusang Mayo Uno

Substantial wage hike urgent, gov’t told

Research group IBON said that the government’s recently announced plan to respond to labor’s clamor for an increase in the minimum wage is welcome but underscored that this move is urgent amid rising prices.

The group said that the hike should be meaningful enough to keep up with accelerating inflation and worsening poverty.

Amid the three-year-high first quarter inflation, widely perceived to be caused by the government’s Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) among other factors, and labor’s demand for a wage hike, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said that a wage increase is coming up within the month.

According to IBON, it is urgent for government to ensure the legislation of a minimum wage hike that is sufficient for the working people to cope with the rising cost of goods and services.

Recent price spikes have been brought about by government’s own market-oriented policies such as the oil deregulation and tax reform laws that press prices up while wages remain low.

The group however stressed that the wage increase should be substantial, as the recent inflation rate will only continue to erode a paltry increase.

IBON explained that despite the last increase of Php21 in October 2017, which raised the National Capital Region (NCR) minimum wage to Php512 from Php491 per day, the real value has eroded by Php16.25 from Php464.19 in October 2017 to Php447.94 as of April 2018.

IBON also noted that the TRAIN has inflicted a heavy blow on the workers’ purchasing power as the real value of the NCR minimum wage lost a significant Php18.79 since the Duterte administration took office in July 2016.

According to IBON, initially increasing the minimum wage nationwide to at least Php750 as recently proposed by progressive lawmakers is the more practical measure.

This will allow wage earners to cope with inflation and increase their purchasing capacity.

It will also help bridge the gap between the nominal minimum wage and the family living wage (FLW) of Php1,173.14 in the NCR, for instance, as of April 2018 computed by IBON.

While the amount still falls short of the FLW, a Php750 minimum wage can be an initial important step towards increased economic activity and more vibrant economic growth that shall ensure a more stable price situation, said the group. #

Working Filipino’s real wage, purchasing power weakening under Duterte

Research group IBON said that accelerating inflation is rapidly eroding the real wage and purchasing power of minimum wage earners in the National Capital Region (NCR).

Real wages show the actual value of wages after these are adjusted for inflation. After almost two years in power, the Duterte administration has only raised the minimum wage in the NCR once–in October last year–which increased this from Php491 in July 2016 to Php512 as of March 2018.

The nominal Php21 increase has however not been enough to keep up with rising prices.

Inflation has been steadily accelerating since the start of the Duterte administration to reach a six-year-high of 3.7 percent in 2017.

It is looking to become even higher this year at 4.8 percent already in the first quarter of 2018.

Minimum wage earners have actually already lost Php16.80 per day with the real value of their wages, measured at 2012 prices, falling from Php466.70 in July 2016 to just Php449.90 in March 2018.

The year 2012 is used as the reference period because this is the base year of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) in computing the consumer price index (CPI) and inflation.

As it is, the NCR minimum wage of Php512 falls far short of the estimated Php973 family living wage (FLW) for a family of five, and even further short of the Php1,168 FLW for a family of six.

The eroding purchasing power of workers is resulting in even lower standards of living for minimum wage earners.

IBON said that the government should urgently address the grossly insufficient wages of workers, which is even being rapidly eroded by high inflation.

Immediate and concrete steps include implementing the Php750 national minimum wage demanded by workers’ groups and suspending implementation of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Package One, which is driving prices up and amending this to become genuinely progressive; and enforcing price controls such as on staple food items. # (IBON.org)

Federations join forces to denounce Duterte on Labor Day

Labor centers Kilusang Mayo Uno and Nagkaisa joined forces to hold the biggest May 1 protest action in the Philippines in several decades last Tuesday.

Long rivals that traditionally held separate Labor Day protest actions, KMU and Nagkaisa said as many as 50,000 workers marched to Mendiola Bridge in Manila in a show of force against the Rodrigo Duterte government’s failure to end contractualization of labor.

The groups said 100,000 more workers marched in various regional centers across the Philippines, despite efforts by the Philippine National Police to block protesters from joining. (Editing by Carlo Francisco, Videography by Jo Maline D. Mamangun)

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Marker at Chicago Haymarket Square honors Kilusang Mayo Uno

A plaque honoring Philippines’s Kilusang Mayo Uno  (KMU) was installed at the Haymarket Square in Chicago, Illinois, USA last May 1  at the monument honoring workers whose deaths led to several labor reforms, including the implementation of an eight-hour work day.
The installation of the plaque was organized by the Illinois Labor History Society.
Raymond Palatino Bagong Alyansang Makabayan represented KMU during the activity. Below is the text of Mong’s speech:
= = = = =
Salute to the working class of the United States! Salute to all working peoples of the world! Mabuhay!
It is an honor to represent the Kilusang Mayo Uno or May First Movement of the Philippines.
Today, we honor the Haymarket workers whose martyrdom did not only pave the way for labor reforms, but more importantly, it empowered and inspired the growth of the labor movement all over the world.
So powerful was the legacy of May One that it eventually became the International Workers Day.
The Philippine labor movement acknowledged the heroism of the Haymarket martyrs when its largest and most militant labor federation chose the name Kilusang Mayo Uno or May First Movement to unite all workers in the Philippines and lead the struggle of the working class.
KMU was established to strengthen the ranks of Filipino workers at a time when the country was under a dictatorship. KMU led the workers in resisting tyranny and linked arms with the farmers, the urban poor, and other freedom-loving Filipinos in ousting a dictator from power.
Since then, the KMU has been at the forefront of the labor movement, and it has consistently and bravely asserted, without compromise, the just demands of workers for higher wages, decent work, safe workplaces; and it has been a strong voice in pushing for democratic rights, an end to feudal oppression in the rural regions of the Philippines, the resistance against foreign control of the local economy, and the realization of the people’s national democratic aspirations.
For almost four decades now, the KMU has been an influential force in the people’s struggle for real democracy and lasting peace in the Philippines.
And so it is fitting that, as we place a KMU marker here in Chicago, we dedicate this in honor of all who devoted the best years of their lives, many of them even sacrificed their lives, in pursuing the revolutionary struggle for national democracy.
This plaque is also for the Filipino migrant farmers who arrived here in the US in the early 20th century. Some of them would become pioneers in union organizing. Their work is remembered today as we continue to fight for immigrant rights and the improvement of conditions of all migrant workers in the US.
This is for the assembly workers in the Philippines’ export processing zones who are toiling in sweatshop conditions, the plantation workers of Mindanao who are herded in militarized camps, the service sector employees denied of benefits, the migrant workers who are forced to be separated from their families because of poverty, underdevelopment, and unjust immigration policies. This is for all the working classes who do not surrender and who continue to march forward to fight for change.
This is for the labor organizers in the Philippines who are fighting a rising dictatorship amid nonstop attacks by state forces. Some of them are in prison yet the only crime they committed was to promote the welfare of workers.
In response, we proudly assert that union organizing is not a crime. Empowering the grassroots is not a crime. Standing up for migrant rights is not a crime.
The real criminal act is the exploitation of the working class, the greedy appropriation of profits and surplus value while workers are subjected to slave-like relations, and the collusion of big capitalists and corrupt politicians in violating labor rights.

KMU stands in solidarity with the American working class in challenging the neoliberal economic policies that drive down wages, destroy unions, and harm the health and well-being of workers.

Raymond Palatino (front row, 5th from right) with members of the Illinois Labor History Society. (Photo by Ciriaco Santiago III, used with permission)

KMU joins all workers in the world in smashing this inhumane system that perpetuates oppression and inequality.
The capitalists have money, the police, the courts, and dirty politicians; but the workers are stronger because we have unity and solidarity and the peoples of the world are one with us in building a better future, a beautiful tomorrow where there is real peace, justice, democracy, and respect for human dignity.
Long live the working class! Mabuhay ang uring manggagawa!