GRASSROOTS workers remain hopeful that President Rodrigo Duterte will address their concerns in his coming second State-of-the-Nation Address, particularly their long demand for the abolition of work contractualization.
Taking the cudgels for the estimated 25 to 30 million contractual workers, the group Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP), in a statement over the weekend, called on the President to address the issues of unemployment and underemployment, and the falling buying power of the existing daily minimum wage.
“The Duterte one-year honeymoon period with the people is over. It is now time for action. Grassroots workers and their families want to know from the President the Duterte roadmap to address falling wages, joblessness and underemployment with five years left in his term. We want to know [his]plan on how to make economic growth benefit workers who helped built that wealth and how he intends to accomplish them,” ALU spokesman Alan Tanjusay said.
The ALU-TUCP is the biggest workers’ organization in the country registered with the Department of Labor and Employment.
Although majority of its members come from the banking, manufacturing, services and agricultural sectors, it also has members in the public sector and the informal-economy sector.
According to the group, there are close to 12 million unemployed and underemployed individuals while the purchasing power of the daily pay fell from 24 percent to 27 percent in highly urbanized Metro Manila and in 16 other regions nationwide in view of a 3.4 percent inflation rate announced by the government in March this year.
It said short-term endo (end of contract) or contractualized workers, numbering 25 to 30 million working in hotels, restaurants, malls, factories and plantations nationwide are hopeful that the President would come up with an Executive Order (EO) that outlaws the temporary work arrangement.
In his May 1 Labor Day speech, Duterte asked workers for time on his campaign promise to abolish job contractualization, asking the Nagkaisa labor coalition group to draft for him to sign an EO that obliges direct-hiring, does away with labor contractors and cooperatives and eradicates fixed-term employment.
“The rich are getting richer while the poor are getting poorer because workers’ wages and benefits are inadequate. There are no new decent jobs created and if there are jobs, they carry no security of tenure and skills and jobs are mismatched. There is no trickle-down effect. There is no genuine progress because of these inequalities,” Tanjusay said.
WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL