Philippines on right track but problems remain, says int’l labor official

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Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz was scheduled to lead the Philippine delegation to the ILO’s 15th Asia and the Pacific Regional Meeting, which will be attended by around 30 other labor and employment ministers. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

KYOTO, Japan—The Philippines is on the right track by focusing on “inclusive growth” but many problems remain, a ranking International Labor Organization official said yesterday as the ILO opened a major regional meeting here on how to protect jobs and economic growth amid the global financial crisis.

Jeff Johnson, ILO country director for the Philippines, commended the Aquino administration for focusing on “inclusive growth” and developing the agriculture sector, adding that the country had a lot to share with its neighbors during the ILO’s 15th Asia and the Pacific Regional Meeting (APRM), which will go on until Wednesday.

“I think it is very important for the Philippines to highlight especially what the administration has been bringing on—inclusive growth. This ties very much with what we’ve been speaking about in the ILO from the inception of the crisis —that we’re facing a paradigm shift,” said Johnson in an interview.

“We’ve been talking about this shift for a long time… that we need to focus not so much on the level of economic growth within the country (but), more importantly, how that growth is achieved,” he said.

“I think the Philippines has a lot to add to the region to help others understand its growth path and its paradigm shift that I see taking place here,” he added.

Very impressed

Johnson said he was “very impressed” with the Aquino administration’s approaches to tackling poverty, particularly its cash transfer program for the poor.

“I think the Philippines has a very unique knowledge base. Again, people still look to the Philippines in terms of migration issues, in terms of seafarers, in terms of how to address issues, including young people or special groups into the discussion,” he said.

“Again, the Philippines has very unique advantages from the regional perspective that will allow it to contribute (to discussions at the meeting),” he said.

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz was scheduled to lead the Philippine delegation to the conference, which will be attended by around 30 other labor and employment ministers.

Economic uncertainty

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda gave the keynote address yesterday afternoon when the meeting opened at the Kyoto International Convention Center.

The conference comes at a time of “extreme economic uncertainty and amid growing concern that, while the region’s economic performance remains positive, it will not be immune to the turbulence affecting its key export markets,” the ILO said.

“The existing unbalanced growth cannot continue. It has failed to deliver jobs of the quality and quantity needed to assure women and men and their families a decent life,” said ILO director general Juan Somavia.

“Today, unemployment levels in Asia and the Pacific have yet to reach the precrisis low of 76.9 million in 2007. Nearly 60 percent of the region’s workers are in vulnerable employment. We need a model of growth that is more socially and economically efficient,” he said.

Somavia said the “crisis of youth employment” needed “urgent action” with young people making up around 20 percent of the region’s population “but are half of the jobless.”

“The Philippines, being still a relatively young democracy, you have a voice and what (the Philippine delegation) can share is their experiences, both positive and negative. You still have such a wealth of knowledge and experience,” Johnson said.

Agriculture development

He also singled out the Aquino administration’s focus on developing agriculture and public-private partnerships as an engine for economic growth.

“In the Philippines’ plans, agriculture is playing a very important role and it’s not just about growing something but also how you add value to that processing. There is much focus on improving productivity and efficiency in agriculture,” Johnson said.

“You have companies in Mindanao like Dole Fruits—that has basically helped the Philippines become the number one producer of pineapples—and canneries and packaging, etc., that create more jobs and again that’s all agriculture-based,” he said.

Vulnerable employment

“If you look at the administration, they’ve played up on that very well. I think this administration has a number of things that they’re moving forward with that are very supportive of economic and inclusive growth,” he added.

Johnson also said, however, that many problems remained in the labor sector, like the high rate of vulnerable employment in the country.

“Vulnerable employment in the Philippines stands at 40.2 percent and it’s going down very slowly. Those workers are own-account workers or unpaid family workers, small-scale farmers, peasant farmers, petty traders or those who work in food stalls,” Johnson said.

“Those workers lack social protection, no social security mechanism in place, and they probably have no PhilHealth. They have very little protection for their occupational safety and in health regulations, and clearly no collective bargaining,” he said.

According to the ILO’s Asia-Pacific Labor Market Update that was released last week, “some progress” in employment creation in the Philippines “was unable to prevent” a higher unemployment of 7.1 percent.”

“The economy struggled to generate sufficient jobs to match its expanding labor force of nearly one million new labor market entrants in the last year,” the ILO report said.

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  • Anonymous

    This is an eye opener for all Pinoys. How vulnerable are those in the lower chain bec of lack of safety & health security. This has been going on for more than a decade and no solutions has been in place until today. The govt must address this issues more than anything else bec they are already vulnerable and growing in numbers. Economics first before politics.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ZWTTKJTI57YO7TZBJC66GA2OLU dennis

    According to the United Nation,We fall under “developing countries” and i don´t know why our present administration unable to create more jobs for the people.The only thing to blame is that our country is overpopulated aside from passing a transition crisis worldwide.Another factor that cause rising in unemployment is global merging which may cause many layouts and jobless people.In my opinion,there is one thing we can overcome this crisis and that is radical change in “Labor Code”.Since there is a rapid growth in worldwide technology,every jobs are becoming easier to everyone with the use of modern machinery.What for nga naman ang maraming manpower kung magagawa ng makabagong makina ang trabaho?Before,making a car or any products like appliances were being made by the use of manpower,Ngayon,it is the machine that can able to finnish that job.Only they need is an operator.
       Now,what i mean is that if it´s posible that a change in Labor Code must be done as soon as posible to prevent increasing no# of jobless people…HOW?
       Instead of 60yrs of Age for retirement,we have to lower it to 55yrs( both Men and Women).This will reduce the no# of jobless people because positions or job availability will be vacant starting the age of 55! They don´t need to wait for anyone to reach the age of 60 to have a vacant post.Our OLD LABOR CODE is no longer applicable for this generation! Noong panahon noon,Oo but ngayon?This is How things will work?

    All workers at all level can go for retirement at the age of 55 recieving only 80% of pension.When it reaches the age of 60,then FULL RETIREMENT FEE of 100%.To attain this,a person who are recieving 80% of retirement must have an Anual report to assure their existence in GSIS or SSS Office.And those 20% missing from their retirement fee from age 55 will be added to their PhilHealth savings for the future needs….Kasi kung lahat papapag-trabahuhin mo until 60,most of them are no longer physically fit and no longer able to deliver a 100% quality of jobs.Mangyayari retirement fee plus Philhealth expenses,aba eh mamumulubi nga ang gobyerno nyan?Specially those who have already suffering from Occupational deseases.Kasi nga,ang phasing sa technology is very fast and these new technology like learning more in computer is no longer for old generation worker but for new generation na.That 55yrs can be earlier pa,depende kung may sakit ka na that will qualify you for an early retirement.In short,starting 55yrs and 35yrs of service are entitle for 80% retirement fee.It is not a MUST or Obligatory but you may go at 55!

  • http://joboni96.myopenid.com/ joboni96

    ‘Dole Fruits—that has basically helped the Philippines become the number one producer of pineapples’

    sinong mas nakinabang dito at

    sino ang mas napinsala

    bakit hindi ma land reform ito?

  • Anonymous

    Headline : right on track going where? Progress? If so, how come the peso is still at the 40 peso range since 1986. All sweet talk but the harsh reality is the govt has no vision about the Phil economy standing. If there was a vision, investors would flock but consider the crime rate, who would? Perhaps some. Until the peso reaches 30 or better yet 20 per dollar, then we are on the right track. Until then, then the govt is not doing enough. actually, they could, but no one is willing to work at their best or together. Pity the pinoy as always, as this is all we would ever be. Without the remittances of OFWs, the ratio between the dollar and the peso would be outrageous. Do the math, congress cant.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ZWTTKJTI57YO7TZBJC66GA2OLU dennis

    Government must NOT DEPEND on OFW´´s remittances.Those were not a stable sources! Paano kung mawala na ang OFW?…Siguro kung mangyayari ang “Isang araw na walang mag-remit na taga Abroad,ano kaya ang mangyayari?”

  • Anonymous

    many would appreciate of jeff johnson of ILO if he has experience and could compare the Ph efforts with labor approach with the success of Vietnam’s agricultural productions instead of sending the citizens for overseas labor market like the OFWs, SLAVERY IS NEVER AN EXEMPLARY JOBS, OK( those domestic helpers are treated like slaves in the middle east countries and the Ph government keeps sending them there ); jeff johnson is not, in reality, helping the Ph government with his inexperienced approach, OK?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_B6SH7XKNIKR76AA7EJDABOJZOM Guevarra

    Wala talagang collective bargaining agreement tulad ng SM.  Kung meron man, union busting na ang kasunod.  Tanong n’yo si Lucio Tan atbp. Tsinoys.

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