The integration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) may bring more problems than benefits to Filipino workers, according to the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines-Nagkaisa (TUCP-Nagkaisa).
Alan Tanjusay, spokesmanfor the group, said while Filipinos may have more jobs to choose from, the surfeit of opportunities may lead to “jobless growth.”
“[W]e can expect a wider job market for Filipino workers who are highly sought after because of their reputation for excellent craftsmanship. Thus, we see a rise in remittances and the spike of job-creating allied services which are additional perk to the economy,” he said.
But on the whole, Tanjusay noted that the integration may bring “misery.”
“The integration will further stimulate jobless growth, race to the bottom phenomenon and promote other forms of precarious work conditions including lowered standard in occupational safety and health particularly if labor laws enforcement is weak and regulatory institutions are irrelevant,” he warned.
“Jobless growth is the growing of wealth and enhancing of economy but unemployment, underemployment and poverty is also growing alongside. With the integration, employers will have more leeway to pursue leaner and meaner operations, outsource jobs within and across borders and relocate production in the cheapest location,” he explained.
He said that a “race to the bottom” will likely happen which means that both the government and private firms will compete to survive in the market by “cutting wages and living standards [of]workers.”
Tanjusay said around 60,000 to 70,000 sugar workers may lose their jobs with the reduction of sugar tariff to five percent.
“This is exacerbated by the inability of the sugar mills to modernize and compete with other ASEAN economies,” he explained.
Many employees and workers in the banking and construction sectors could also end up jobless. Tanjusay said his group “also fear that the integration will also encourage widespread contractualization, non-regularization of jobs, and prevalence of many other forms of precarious work arrangements that require proactive regulatory institutions.”