“The rise of low-paying, insecure jobs under Aquino’s term has increasingly proven that ordinary Filipinos are not the beneficiaries of his brand of governance and economics.”
By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA – The Aquino government generated mostly poor quality jobs, and under its watch the Philippines recorded its worst jobs crisis in history. Yet, it keeps on claiming that its so-called good governance and good economics have led to better job opportunities. Nothing can be farther than the truth, said research group Ibon in a statement.
At the recently-held Philippine Economic Briefing 2015, National Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan claimed that strong economic growth has led to favorable employment prospects. He reported that over four million jobs were created over the last five years, and that an increase in the share of wage and salaried employment supposedly showed improved work quality.
But his numbers completely missed the sorry state of both the so-called employed, aside from the unemployed and underemployed.
In number-crunching, there are figures to report indeed about rising employment, but IBON said it is at most just a “pseudo-job generation.” It means the quality of work is getting worse despite or because of increasing number of reported employment. Even government statistics reveal the proofs – despite its changes in definition of terms like who to call “employed” and “unemployed.”
Citing government statistics, Ibon said that as of July this year, it remains that more than three in every ten employed persons (34.3 percent) are own-account workers, nearly three (26.2 percent or 10.2 million) are self-employed and nearly one in every ten are unpaid family workers (8.1 percent or 3.2 million). All in all, that means seven in every 10 so-called employed are in jobs that are precarious, paying low or nothing at all.
Ibon added that in the first quarter of 2015, employment created were 544,000 informal jobs, but at the same time,137,000 regular jobs were lost. More than 12 million Filipinos or nearly a third of all employed (32.2 percent) work less than 40 hours or are part-time workers.
From July 2014 to July 2015, Labor Force Survey figures (excluding Leyte) showed that the underemployed or those seeking additional work rose from 18.3 percent to 20.8 percent of total labor force.
Ibon also noted that according to latest government data itself, non-regular and agency-hired workers increased from 37 to 44 of every 100 Filipino workers from 2008 to 2012. The share of regular employees to total employment, meanwhile, decreased from 72 to only 56 of every 100 Filipino workers.
Reports from labor groups paint an even worse trend for regular employment. From various Bulatlat.com interviews with workers in large, profitable enterprises, non-regular and agency-hired workers now vastly outnumber the regular. At the Kilusang Mayo Uno national congress last month, its regional chapters reported that more often, non-regulars today comprise over half of the total workforce in establishments. In some companies, there are nine non-regulars for every regular worker (for example Tanduay Distillers Inc and Dole Philippines).
Under the Aquino administration, Ibon also estimates the number of underemployed at least one million, and the number of merely part-time workers at least 1.5 million. The number of jobless and underemployed Filipinos reaching 12.2 million in 2014 is unprecedented in the country’s history, Ibon noted.
Why is the Aquino government trumpeting only the nominal increase in employment, and ignoring the sorry state of the so-called employed? Ibon said the government has been playing up its pseudo-job generation to showcase the supposed effectiveness of neoliberal programs being promoted by forums like the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).
Although the Aquino government is upbeat, ordinary workers cannot share the enthusiasm, because the cause or Aquino’s glowing employment report are the scourges being decried by labor groups: labor flexibilization and contractualization. As Ibon concluded, “the rise of low-paying, insecure jobs under Aquino’s term has increasingly proven that ordinary Filipinos are not the beneficiaries of his brand of governance and economics.”