DOLE plan won’t solve lack of construction workers – TUCP
Limiting the number of construction workers for deployment abroad, as planned by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), will only force workers to use backdoor means to leave the Philippines since they could get better salaries and benefits abroad.
The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) said this DOLE plan would not answer the supposed labor shortage in the construction industry.
“Our main problem is we have a shortage of trained and certified construction workers because wages are low, benefits are meager, and working conditions are highly substandard,” TUCP president Raymond Mendoza said.
In Metro Manila, for instance, construction workers often just receive the minimum wage of P532.
According to TUCP, some workers are even forced to buy their own safety equipment.
Earlier, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the DOLE was planning to reduce by up to 90 percent the number of construction workers they would deploy abroad to ensure that there would enough manpower left in the Philippines to do various projects under the government’s “Build, Build, Build” program.
Mendoza pointed out that because of the cap, workers might be compelled to leave the country illegally given that better offers await them abroad.
“Once they go underground, they will become undocumented, illegal workers abroad hiding from the law,” he said. “This is highly problematic. We need to raise the salary, benefits and working conditions standards of our construction workers so that they will no longer aspire to work abroad.”
Instead of the cap, Mendoza suggested that the government’s assessment, training, and certification of skills be made more accessible and affordable for workers.
“The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority must conduct more assessment, training and skills certification even on Saturdays and Sundays and even on holidays, conduct these even in worksites to increase the pool of skill-certified construction workers. It must also accredit private institutions to facilitate certification,” he said. /atm