SONA 2014: Jobs scarcity rising, wages in significant decline under Aquino’s 4 years

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Despite the fanfare over the supposed economic gains in the past four years, Filipino workers remain mired in joblessness and measly wages under the Aquino administration, a labor NGO said today.

Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research Inc. (EILER) said the current bleak labor situation is worsened by the pro-business policies by President Aquino that further cheapen labor cost in the country.

Astronomic price hikes

“In real terms, the minimum wage in the National Capital Region has only increased by a mere P5.00 since President Aquino assumed presidency, which means that the cumulative P62-wage increase approved by the regional wage board since 2010 is almost gobbled up by astronomic price hikes,” EILER executive director Anna Leah Escresa said.

“On a broader scale, the real wage has been in steadily decline for the past 30 years. It is clear that President Aquino’s economic policies have failed to cause even the slightest uptick in Filipino workers’ purchasing power.

Escresa said this is worsened with the Aquino government’s implementation of the two-tier wage system (2TWS), which sets a floor wage for new labor market entrants that is way below the prevailing minimum wage.

“2TWS also promotes productivity-based system which further squeezes workers dry as workers would compete to increase productivity but incentives would only be few and far between,” she said.

On the job generation side, EILER said President Aquino’s “inclusive growth” mantra has miserably failed to produce any significant boost in employment.

“The number of jobless Filipinos has remained unchanged at nearly 3 million, while the number of underemployed Filipinos has increased by over 500,000 since Aquino assumed presidency based on conservative government statistics,” Escresa said, citing Labor Force Survey figures.

DAP didn’t cause dent on joblessness

Escresa the lingering jobs scarcity clearly debunks Aquino’s claim that the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) contributed to economic growth.

“It is clear that DAP, as supposed economic stimulus, did not cause any dent on the unemployment trend, nor boosted the wage levels in the country as the miniscule jobs created were short-term and contractual,” Escresa said.

“What could have been a genuine stimulus to the economy would be granting a significant  increase in minimum wages, which the workers has been demanding for decades already,” she added

Overall quality of work continues to decline as the labor department implements Department Order 18-A (DO 18-A), which promotes multiple subcontracting at the expense of workers’ wages and job security. It should be remembered that it was during the start of his presidency, that the outsourcing of the jobs in the Philippine Airlines was also approved, which is a huge blow to the fight to keep jobs by unions.

EILER said the growing number of workers searching for jobs abroad is concrete proof of the worsening jobs scarcity in the country.

Around 5,000 Filipinos leave the country each day on an average under the Aquino administration, up from the 4,000-per-day average during the Arroyo administration.

“Numbers tell that President Aquino has flunked in his job to ensure that Filipinos enjoy decent standards of living. His overall performance as a president did not bring better situation on the lives of ordinary workers and Filipinos.

“And the Supreme Court ruling on the unconstitutionality of DAP has proved that a huge sum of government funds from the pockets of workers who are taxpayers, were spent wrongly and some even used for patronage politics and corruption, are very strong basis for his “bosses” to sack him out of office. In companies, workers would immediately face dismissal in their work once they violate company rules,” Escresa concluded.

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