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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Labor groups pitch ‘non-fiscal measures’ to combat inflation

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Reducing parking fees, imposing price control on essential goods, and providing aid to businesses can help minimize the adverse impact of high inflation on the country’s workforce, according to labor groups.

Federation of Free Workers (FFW) President Sonny Matula said the government should consider rolling out non-monetary interventions to provide immediate relief to workers and employers from “price pressures.”

Such measures will complement their demand for minimum wage hike before the regional wage boards or in Congress, according to the labor leader.

He noted that reducing parking fees alone, which could be as high P60, can give workers substantial savings.

“If that will be daily [reduced parking rates], it’s like giving workers a daily pay hike,” Matula said via SMS.

He also said the government should consider providing capital and subsidies to workers’ cooperatives and worker associations for their livelihood projects to help them generate additional income.

For its part, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) said such technical aid should be channeled to grant facilities or low-interest lending to micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

“Such assistance should be premised on the MSMEs retaining their current employees and/or hiring more workers,” TUCP Vice President Luis Corral said via SMS.

Worse employment indicators

The labor leaders made the pronouncements after the BusinessMirror reported that some local economists warned that high inflation, which already reached 8.7 percent last month, and “bloated” wage increases could cause more job displacements.

In its latest Labor Force Survey (LFS) report, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) announced that the number of unemployed increased to 2.22 million from 2.18 million last December compared to November 2022.

The number of underemployed showed an improvement as it decreased to 6.2 million from 7.16 million in the same period.

Organized labor said they anticipate a rise in the number of unemployed and underemployed in the coming months without the needed government intervention, especially with the projected global economic slowdown this year.

“I’m expecting tough times [for workers] ahead should the expected recession among many of our trade partners happen,” Sentro ng Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) Secretary General Josua Mata said.

“This is why we have been insisting on the need for a robust public employment program,” he added.

Government response

To sustain the positive gains in the LFS particularly on the improving quality of employment, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said it is reviewing the effectiveness of its programs.

“Any decrease in employment rate, increase in unemployment level and increase in underemployment  are indicators that will serve to propel us to review and assess our programs and strategies to do better,” Labor and Employment Secretary Bienvenido E. Laguesma said via SMS.

He said they are currently consulting with the private sector on how to make their programs “more responsive.”

Labor groups have been seeking an audience with President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. since last year so they can also provide inputs to the government’s labor policies.

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