Ka Leody de Guzman
Chairperson, Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino
September 6, 2020
The employment statistics as shown by the PSA is misleading. They are presenting joblessness not just with rose colored glasses but with blinders. Government statisticians would like to highlight that the figure has went down to 10%, from 17.7% in April at the height of the lockdown.
The hocus pocus in the unemployment data would not fool the workers and the poor. Official statistics may show that it is up as compared to April not only because of the easing of the quarantine restrictions but also due to their prevailing definition where those only those who are not working and are not seeking work are unemployed. Meaning, for the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), those who are thrown out of work as wage earners, particularly in the distraught industries of airlines and tourism, but are hustling as hand-to-mouth online sellers are still employed! Para sa gobyerno, pati ang mga nasa temporaryong gawa-paraan para mabuhay ay tinuturing nilang may-trabaho!
Our experience with various unions reveal that employers are using the COVID19 pandemic to lay-off workers, especially tenured workers who may cause a dent in their liquidity once they claim for retirement benefits and separation pay, only to replace them with cheaper contractual workers. Government should prosecute these employers who exploit the desperation of a hungry and quarantined labor force to extract more profit through starvation wages. Sila ay mas masahol pa sa mga terorista dahil ginagamit nila ang pamilya ng manggagawa bilang hostage para tumanggap ang mga kontraktwal ng mas mababang sweldo.
The data is rigged. The highest increase in unemployment were recorded at the National Capital Region. Yet some sectors that registered increase in employment are in sectors that are not present in the country's most economically active urban areas, particularly in mining and quarrying, and agriculture and forestry. Other sectors were there was alleged increase in hiring are also progressing at a snail's pace - such as electricity, gas, steam, and air-conditioning supply, and human health and social work activities, and construction.
One sector that was reported to have increase in employment is unarguable - wholesale and retail trade. But we would not regard it as gainful employment since these ventures, mostly online selling, are not stable, have low capitalization, and any interruption to the circulation of their capital becomes a life-and-death struggle for their livelihood.
The manipulation in the presentation of the employment data by the PSA intends to bolster the faltering numbers of the Duterte regime, whose incompetence in handling the lingering scourges of the COVID19 pandemic and a crippling economic recession has already been established as an incontestable fact. #