TUCP assails DOLE business-as-usual response to unemployment

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) assailed the “business as usual” menu of program response of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to the unprecedented scale of unemployment brought about by the pandemic.

The TUCP earlier projected 5 million to 10 million unemployed workers due to the pandemic, and 3 to 4 million in floating status under a “no work, no pay” arrangement, while the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) indicates a 17.7 percent unemployment rate which accounts for 7.3 million unemployed in the workforce in the second quarter of 2020, nearly a four-time increase from the 5.1 percent unemployment rate in the same quarter of 2019.

“The Department of Labor and Employment has not demonstrated urgency and a full grasp of the magnitude of the displacement of workers. It is in the ‘business-as-usual’ mode as can be seen from the usual amelioration programs it presented for the recovery program. We need to have a massive jobs creation program and DOLE should work it out with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). It needs to step up, mainstream employment generation in all government agencies and should not give excuses that its mandate is merely job facilitation, for what is there to facilitate when there are no jobs?” TUCP Vice President Luis Corral said.

“TUCP firmly takes the stand that the Philippine government must address the widespread unemployment and displacement of workers caused by disruption of the economy. A multi-billion economic stimulus package that provides budget for the expansion and strengthening of the public health system, funding the Universal Health Care Law and more investments in the care economy, for wage subsidy and loan programs designed to preserve employment and support MSMEs, OFWs, and massive jobs creation through the construction of the Luzon and Mindanao Railways Project connected to agri-industrial hubs,” Mr. Corral added.

Speaking at the Senate Committee on Labor hearing during the last week of June, TUCP Vice President Luis Corral called on the government to do better, maintaining that workers, both local and overseas, deserved better than the usual menu of programs enumerated in the DOLE Recovery Program.

He urged the government to “BUILD BACK BETTER” and use the country’s “AAA-minus credit rating” to fund a multi-trillion-peso economic stimulus package so that the credit rating is felt by the Filipino people.

Labelling the DOLE Recovery Program as “business-as-usual” and a “band-aid,” Mr. Corral assailed DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello’s estimates of 90,215 unemployed as a deliberately irresponsible statement and in denial of the realities, adding that the DOLE inaccuracies will result in a glaringly inaccurate policy response to address the crisis.

With a reported 0.2 percent shrinkage of the gross domestic product (GDP) in the first quarter prior to the halt of economic activities due to the lockdown, the further decrease in production as reported by Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua has only deepened the economic contraction.

These two consecutive quarters of GDP shrinkage means the country has slipped into a recession, last experienced by the Philippines in 1998, with an unemployment rate of 10.3 percent.