In its recent survey for the 3rd quarter of 2018, the SWS said that 22% or 9.8 million Filipinos are unemployed. The labor department countered this by citing the official data of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), which peg the unemployment rate at 5.4%, covering some 2.3 million, in its July 2018 Labor Force Survey.
“The stark difference between public perception and the official unemployment statistics shows that the unemployed and underemployed millions and our government statisticians have different definitions of ‘unemployment’, said BMP Chair Leody de Guzman.
“To the PSA and the DOLE, the ranks of the employed include those who are working in the precarious informal sector. Those who are out-of-work but are not looking for work are also not counted as unemployed," he added.
“The SWS survey reflects the problem of underemployment. To the workers and the poor, and rightly so, those who are making ends meet through odd and irregular side-jobs – including informal street vendors and street food peddlers - are not truly employed. But are regarded as employed by the PSA and DOLE, partly because these agencies want to turn a blind eye to government’s incapacity to provide full employment to the Filipino people,” de Guzman noted.
“The official definition of employment, which excludes those who are not looking for work by removing them in the category of ‘labor force’, is flawed. A sizeable chunk of the unemployed are not looking for work, not because they are lazy and useless. They would not bother themselves with the costly expenses of finding work only to land in lowly-paid contractual work, if ever they are absorbed by the formal economy,” he explained.
Contractualization, Flexible Work Schemes
De Guzman said the crux of the matter is the changing definition of the term ‘employed’, not only in the Philippines but also in global governing bodies such as the International Labor Organization (ILO). This redefinition transpired in the late 1990s as governments subscribed to the policy of flexibilization of labor by transnational monopoly corporations.
“Gone are the days when employment meant having regular jobs with regular pay, as employers shifted to schemes for cheap and docile labor,” de Guzman, the lone senatorial candidate of the labor sector, running under Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) stressed
Rather than deny the problem of underemployment, which is truly unemployed in perception of the public, the BMP leader asserted that the Duterte administration deliver on its promise to end contractualization. “The workers have not forgotten the campaign promise of ‘contractualization must stop’ by then candidate Rodrigo Duterte during the 2016 elections."
BMP claims that Duterte could have easily prohibited all forms of labor contracting, a power that is accorded to the DOLE Secretary by Article 106 of the Labor Code – an alter-ego of the chief executive for labor affairs.
“Duterte could simply issue an executive order for the prohibition of this patently anti-labor work scheme. But he would not deliver on his promises, because there is no honesty to the words of this pro-capitalist compulsive liar,” the veteran labor leader concluded. (30)
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