MEMBERS of the Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL)-Youth staged today simultaneous flashmob – dances and other “creative”protest actions– in four major cities in the country to mark the sixth World Day for Decent Work (WDDW) and to highlight the need to fight the widespread use and abuse of contractual jobs.
In Manila, APL-Youth activists expressed their dismay over contractualization and the persistently high youth unemployment by romping and dancing to an upbeat tune during the morning rush hour in the middle of the road in Morayta Street, right in the heart of the bustling university or U-Belt area.
Their counterparts in Cebu City marched and held an evening picket in front of the busy Gaisano Metro; while in Davao City a program was conducted along Ilustre St., a main thoroughfare; and a “dramatized mobilization” capped by a stirring candle lighting was organized at Magsaysay Park in Cagayan de Oro City.
Joanna Bernice Coronacion, APL-Youth coordinator, said that the youth – whether as full-time or working students, out-of-school, job applicants, novice employees, young professionals – are not immune from the worsening and interrelated problems of poverty, unemployment, underemployment and precarious work.
“The youth should therefore be actively involved in organizations or campaigns that seek to create and sustain secure and decent jobs, and aim to have an ‘inclusive’ growth unlike the current economic ‘development’ of the country that only benefits the few rich and powerful,” Coronacion added.
Despite the much ballyhooed gross domestic product (GDP)“growth” – average of seven percent in four straight quarters – and gaining investment grade from the world’s top three rating agencies (Fitch, Standard & Poor’s, and Moody’s), the country’s poverty incidence has barely changed to 27.9 percent in the first half of 2012.
Unemployment rate even increased to 7.5 percent last April (from 6.9 percent in April 2012) swelling the jobless Filipinos by 283,000 to reach a total of 3.086 million – the highest since 2008.Together with the underemployed, they would reach more than 10 million workers with uncertain jobs, meager income and bleak future.
Studies show that a significant portion of the labor force is in the informal or “precarious sector” – the rapidly growing “contractuals” and part-timers – who endure low or unstable salaries, without basic social protection like social security and healthcare benefits, with no security of tenure, and outside the scope of mainstream trade unions.
More than 95,000 wage and salary workers were added to underemployed ranks indicating the low wagesespecially in private establishments that drove the workers to look for additional jobs and income.
On the other hand, the surge in unemployment was a high of 75.3 percent or over 213,000 among prime working age group 25-54 years old, and 45.9 percent or more than 130,000 among jobless college graduates.
Likewise, about 1.49 million or 48.2 percent of the total unemployed are young workers aged 15 to 24, and the 16.6 percent youth unemployment rate was actually “more than twice the national average,” a government agency admitted.
In fact, citing official figures, the global labor center International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) revealed that last year at least “75 million young people are without jobs across the world, many millions more are trapped in informal or precarious work, and tens of millions of new job seekers have no prospect of finding work, or education and training to equip them for work in the future.”
The International Labor Organization (ILO), in its Global Employment Trends 2013 report, put the youth unemployment in 2012 at 73.8 million, calling it a “persistent problem” and warned that “many young people now experience long-term unemployment right from the start of their labor market entry.”
It added that when this employment problem “occurs early on in a person’s career, it can do significant damage to (his/her) long-term employment prospects.”
The ILO report said that youth joblessness “is expected to rise in emerging economies in Eastern Europe, East and Southeast Asia (including the Philippines) and the Middle East.”
Thus the fifth or last year’s theme of WDDW – observed every October 7 and began in 2008 by the ITUC – was “Jobs for Young People.” This year’s official global theme is “Organize!” to underscore the fact that “just 7percent of working people in the formal and informal sectors are union members, yet hundreds of millions more want the security and protection that unions provide.”
Meanwhile, the ILO also reported that globally a total of 197 million were jobless last year, and another 5.1 million will be added this year pushing the worldwide total of the unemployed ranks to a staggering202 million.
Still excluded from that group is the increasing number of workers throughout the world who are more vulnerable to exploitation for working and endlessly remaining as contractuals, casuals, part-timers and the like.
The new labor center SENTRO or the Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa, to which the APL and APL-Youth belong, reiterated that joblessness and precarious work are offshoots and part of the global neoliberal agenda to further enrich the few and destroy the organized dissent, especially militant trade unions.