• ILO steps up aid for ‘Yolanda’-displaced workers


    The International Labor Organization (ILO) has stepped up emergency employment and livelihood initiatives in the bid to rebuild the lives of workers displaced by Super Typhoon Yolanda.

    “Since Haiyan struck on 8 November, the ILO supported the Department of Labor and Employment in creating over 20,000 jobs under the emergency employment program. We reached out to 100,000 people during the initial phase in 2013 to help improve their living and working conditions,” Lawrence Jeff Johnson, ILO Philippines country director said in a statement.

    The ILO is working with the government and supporting agencies like the Department of Labor and Employment and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority through emergency employment, skills training and enterprise development.

    The emergency employment efforts have been eyed as an opportunity for people to gain new skills, such as carpentry or masonry to rebuild their own houses and communities.

    Restoring the workers’ earnings without taking safety and health risks has been identified as one of the key priorities of the international agency.

    Hence, the ILO ensures that workers involved in emergency employment programs are equipped with personal protective equipment (masks, hats, gloves, boots and long sleeved shirts) to minimize risks, as well as guarantee social security and health insurance.

    “But more needs to be done to provide access to safe and decent work that includes ensuring minimum wages, sound occupational safety, skills development and social protection in line with national laws,” Johnson added.

    The ILO estimated that about 5.9 million workers had lost their livelihoods or have been jobless. Nearly half or 2.6 million of these were already at risk and living near the poverty line even before the typhoon.

    About three million workers were affected in the service industry. They are employed in shops, public markets, restaurants, transportation business, offices and schools. There are also 1.9 million workers in agriculture and one million in industry sector displaced after the super typhoon.

    “It is about getting livelihoods to people who have lost everything and doing it the right way to ensure inclusive growth. Part of this, as President Aquino said in his inaugural address, is for migration to be ‘an option and not a necessity.’ We support the government for people to find jobs at home so that they will not be forced to leave their families behind or to accept whatever work is available just to survive,” said Johnson.

    The ILO has been implementing activities in typhoon stricken areas of Guiuan, Eastern Samar; Tacloban City; Ormoc City; Northern Cebu; Negros Occidental; Coron, Palawan and Bohol.

    The ILO, which aims to raise $37 million for employment aid, recently received $ 3.2 million from Norway in addition to earlier support from Japan and the International Maritime Employers’ Council.



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