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FFW cites women's role in labor force amid challenges

In celebration of International Women's Day, the Federation of Free Workers (FFW) on Wednesday expressed its solidarity with women workers in their struggle for equal rights and opportunities in the workplace.

"The FFW recognizes the significant role that we women play in the labor force and our valuable contributions to the economy," said FFW Women's Network (FWN) President Maria Victoria Bellosillo.

FWN is the Women's Committee of the FFW that has a regular seat in the Governing Body.

Besides participating in production and services and being responsible for unpaid care work, Bellosillo said that women's productive role in society is undeniable, noting that without women, the economy and care for future generations would suffer.

The FWN also joined other women workers from the Women Workers United (WWU) in a dialogue with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

However, despite their contributions, women still face numerous struggles in the workplace in today's society.

"Women's employment in contractual work and odd jobs in the informal sector are significant barriers to their unionization," Bellosilllo added, noting that female union density rates remain low at 2.7%.

Arta Maines, president of the United Cirtek Employees Association-FFW and FWN National Vice President, highlighted women workers' exploitation and discrimination.

"Ang daming babaeng manggagawang kontratwal lalo dito sa amin sa Laguna. Many women workers are still employed as contract and agency workers, and they have fewer privileges compared to male workers. They face inequalities in hiring policies, wages, benefits, leaves, and even in workplace facilities," she said.

She stressed women have no voice in creating labor policies and decision-making that affects them.

"We will fight for the regularization of contract and agency workers and wage increases," she said.

Moreover, FFW said Viatris Employees Union signed a CBA with management the other day.

"With significant contributions of women, we were able to successfully organize a union and then negotiate our CBA without encountering many obstacles. This highlights the importance of women in the forefront, women's participation in the workplace, and our valuable contributions to achieving our collective goals," said Hernandez.

Tiffany Ong, FFW Vice President for Visayas, asserts, "the government should take the lead in initiating wage increases among health workers."

According to the aggregator iPrice Group study, the Philippines has the lowest salaries for nurses and medical technologists in Southeast Asia.

"Our health workers are crucial front liners in the global fight against the coronavirus pandemic," said Ong, the union president of the Iloilo Mission Hospital Employees' Association.

"We must not hesitate to become leaders and fight for equality. The FFW supports our struggle for equal rights and opportunities in the workplace," Ong added.

Meanwhile, the FFW approved several policies at its last National Convention, highlighting the need for women's participation.

Ong also urged the government to ratify International Labour Organization (ILO Convention No. 190) to pave the way for eliminating violence and harassment in the World of Work.

"Together, let us stand with women workers and continue to fight for gender equality in the workplace," Bellosillo added. —NB, GMA Integrated News