[Press Release] PM to DOLE: Is number of affected workers downplayed to justify big gap in distribution of cash aid?

PM to DOLE: Is number of affected workers downplayed to justify big gap in distribution of cash aid?

Is it true that only 3.57 percent of 28 million workers employed in the formal sector were affected by the lockdown? The labor group Partido Manggawa (PM) cannot believe so.

“The problem can be poor or incomplete reporting or a more scheming form of it – an arbitrary downgrading to justify the huge gap in the distribution of cash aid,” stated PM Chair Renato Magtubo.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Sunday, said that based on reports submitted by its regional offices, there are 1,048,649 workers in the formal sector nationwide who were affected by temporary business closures or flexible work arrangements. Most of the affected workers, it said, came from the manufacturing, hotel, restaurants and tourism, and education sectors.

But according to PM, the number merely represents a small fraction of the wage and salaried workers in the country and therefore can be interpreted as ‘insignificant’ as far as the lockdown impact is concerned.

The group pointed out that as of January this year, 65.2% of employed persons are wage and salary workers. This is equivalent to 28 million workers in the formal sector out of the 42.6 million employed persons throughout the country.

“One million is just 3.57% of the 28 million wage workers. That means more than 90% of our workers in the formal sector are not yet affected by the one-month lockdown,” said Magtubo.

To be not affected, workers are either working continuously, at home but receiving wages from their employers, or in quarantine but with guaranteed income.

“Obviously that is not what we’re seeing at the ground level as most of our workers, except state employees and those in few large corporations who are still under payroll, are employed in unprotected and less monitored micro-enterprises,” said Magtubo.

The labor leader said he can only suspect that numbers are being downplayed here to justify a small number of target beneficiaries to be covered by its cash aid program.

DOLE is rolling out P5,000 cash assistance to affected workers in the formal sector under its COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP). The same amount goes for the informal sector under its temporary cash-for-work program called Tulong Pangkabuhayan sa Ating Displaced/Underprivileged Workers (TUPAD).

Partido Manggagawa, together with labor umbrella Nagkaisa!, is pushing for #AyudangSapatParaSaLahat demand. It also calls for the extension of government subsidies beyond the lockdown period as well as a more humanitarian rather than militaristic approach in managing the COVID-19 pandemic. ###

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