[Press Release] Low wages, attacks on workers rights, hinder fulfillment of decent work agenda | EILER

#HumanRights #Workers

Low wages, attacks on workers rights, hinder fulfillment of decent work agenda – EILER

The country still lags behind on the Decent Work Agenda, according to Labor NGO Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER).

As the domestic employment crisis deepens, more and more workers are forced to engage in irregular, precarious or intermittent employment with lower wages. Widespread joblosses, rampant contractualization, and inadequate decent job opportunities with living wages, are worsened by the militaristic pandemic response and intensified repression against trade union and human rights.

Citing ITUC Global Rights Index 2021, Global Witness Report, and the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights, EILER noted that the Philippines is still considered one of the most dangerous countries for workers, and the second-worst worldwide for environmental and land rights defenders. The situation has worsened for the workers, trade unionists, and labor rights defenders since the enactment of the Anti-Terrorism Act, which granted more power to the police and the military. A total of 56 labor rights defenders fall victims of extrajudicial killings while 31 unionists and labor organizers remain in detention for trumped-up cases.

“We are even farther from achieving the Decent Work Agenda and sustainable economy. The Duterte administration has failed in its promise to end contractualization and improve minimum wages. Worse, our trade unions are vilified and are under attack,” EILER Executive Director Rochelle Porras said.

EILER noted that the effects of the pandemic on minimum wages, regular jobs, and occupational safety and health standards are worsened by neoliberal policies and militarized lockdowns enforced by the Duterte administration, as shown by the recent data. Latest statistics reveal an increase in the unemployment rate of up to 8.1 percent in August compared to the 6.9 percent in July. From before the pandemic up to August 2021, around 3.9 million Filipinos have become unemployed. Workers’ real wages are also lower due to rising prices of basic commodities. Labor organizations are calling for P100 daily wage subsidy, to augment the amount that the workers have lost during the lockdowns. Meanwhile, according to Forbes magazine, the coffers of the Top 50 Filipino billionaires have immensely increased since last year to US$79 billion.

“To improve workers’ situation and provide immediate relief, the government must improve hazard pay for our health workers and implement the P100 wage subsidy for the workers affected by the pandemic. The government must also provide more aid to the MSMEs to bolster the domestic economy and job generation,” Porras said.

“We wish to remind the Philippine government and the employers that calamities and the pandemic do not automatically suspend labor laws, meaning, workers must be protected against unfair dismissal and abuse at all times. This is why it is crucial to allow the ILO High-Level investigation on the killings of workers,” Porras added.

“Moreover, with the coronavirus pandemic, the government must prioritize generating decent, regular jobs with living wages. It must act on the legitimate demands of the workers including free and accessible vaccines, social protection benefits, and upholding of freedom of association, collective bargaining rights, OSH and other labor rights,” Porras concluded.

7 October 2021
Reference: Ms. Rochelle Porras, EILER Executive Director, +63 920 127 6491

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