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Labor groups: 2020 spells doom for workers due to lack of job security

A coalition of workers warned on Wednesday that the labor sector is headed for doom in the new year due to lack of job security and the state's pro-capitalist policies.

Pagkakaisa ng Uring Manggagawa issued the warning in light of President Rodrigo Duterte’s veto or rejection of the Security of Tenure bill, the passage of the Rice Tariffication law which allows unlimited rice importation, the water concessionaires’ failure to deliver efficient water services in Metro Manila amid fare hike, the push for the passage of the bill reducing corporate income taxes into law, among others.

“Capitalists have made a lot of gains against labor last year. The “pro-capitalist” policies of President Rodrigo Duterte in 2019 have emboldened labor abusers and union busters,” Paggawa spokesperson and chairman of Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) Leody de Guzman said in a statement.

“There is no longer any doubt that the so-called self-proclaimed ‘socialist’ President is pro-elite. Workers who cling to hope that substantial reforms are still possible are in for bigger disappointments,” de Guzman added.

Questionable stats

Paggawa also tagged earlier government pronouncements of drops in poverty incidence and unemployment and underemployment rates as defective statistics based on faulty gauge of deprivation and joblessness."

“The way we measure poverty is ridiculous, if not insulting. No serious official can defend the poverty threshold of P10,727 for a family of five, or P50 per person per day for food and P21 per person per day for non-food needs,” lawyer Jimmy Miralles of labor group Association of Genuine Labor Organizations (AGLO) pointed out.

Making matters worse for workers, Miralles said, is the government, particularly the Philippine Statistics Authority's definition "employed" as a person of working-age who has worked at least one hour in the past seven days.

“[Can you] imagine that! Just find a gig for an hour in the past week, and you are magically employed in PSA data. Combine this with the definition of the unemployed – which is that a person has to be ‘willing to work’ first before being added to the labor force – and you will really end up with bloated employment figures,” Miralles added.

Paggawa also scored PSA’s underemployment definition, arguing that workers should be asked if their wages are enough for their daily needs instead of asking if workers are looking for additional work.

“Instead of underemployment, maybe PSA should be measuring ‘underpayment’,” Miralles quipped.

Paggawa is composed of labor centers and federations: Associated Trade Unions, BMP, Katipunan ng Samahang ng mga Manggagawa, Katipunan ng Manggagawang Makabayan, Metro East Labor Federation Solidarity of Unions in the Philippines for Empowerment and Reforms, Workers Advocates for Struggle, Transformation and Organization, among others. —Llanesca T. Panti/LBG, GMA News