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Government jobs critical to improving employment, labor-affiliated party says

PHILIPPINE STAR/ BOY SANTOS

By John Victor D. Ordoñez

PUBLIC-SECTOR jobs will be critical for improving employment ahead of an expected global economic slowdown, according to a political party aligned with the labor movement.

“The government should play a vital role in providing employment opportunities and not rely on the private sector by funding a robust public employment program that will contribute, among others, to the development of the agriculture, health, and transportation (industries),” Partido Manggagawa Chairman Rene B. Magtubo said in a Viber message.

“To date, most if not all of the returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who are still capable of working train their sights on employment opportunities abroad rather than state job programs,” he added.

Mr. Magtubo said the government should also focus on boosting jobs in manufacturing to improve the overall quality of jobs next year.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. has said he intends to promote manufacturing to create more jobs and expand economic output.

The jobless rate fell to 4.5% in October, the lowest since October 2019, before the pandemic hit.

Job quality that month improved as the underemployment rate, or the percentage of employed seeking more work, eased to 14.2% from 15.4% in September.

Partido Manggagawa also said Tuesday that workers continue to struggle with low wages despite the recovery from the pandemic.

“Despite runaway inflation, the government played deaf to the demands and stuck to the myth that there was no supervening condition that existed to warrant a new round of wage hikes,” it said in a statement, referring to the normal practice of waiting for a year between wage hikes, with exceptions being made for supervening conditions.

Inflation rose to a 14-year high of 8% in November, against the 7.7% posted in October.

Labor Secretary Bienvenido E. Laguesma has said the National Wages Productivity Commission and tripartite wage boards are studying the need for additional wage increases amid soaring prices of basic goods.

The Kapatiran ng mga Unyon at Samahang Manggagawa on Dec. 5 filed a petition seeking a P100-increase in the daily minimum wage in Metro Manila to help workers deal with inflation.

In June, the Metro Manila Wage Board imposed a P33-minimum wage increase. Wage boards can only act on wage petitions a year after a region’s last wage order.

Partido Manggagawa noted that the decline in unemployment numbers does not reflect the thousands of low-paid workers losing jobs and many working in jobs that lack benefits.

“In other words, these employed but vulnerable workers in the post-pandemic context are still harmed by decent-work deficits,” it said. “More Filipinos are back to work but in bad jobs.

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