Workers didn’t feel 6% GDP growth – KMU

“What growth?”

This was national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno’s response to the 6 percent expansion of the country’s Gross Domestic Product in this year’s third quarter, saying workers did not feel the reported growth in their wages, job security and trade-union rights.

The labor group said working conditions continue to deteriorate as wages continue to be pressed down, contractual employment continues to be promoted, and trade-union rights continue to be violated.

It cited flag carrier Philippine Airlines’ retrenchment of 117 workers in September, who will be replaced by agency workers despite PAL Holdings’ reported P5.8 billion net income in the first half of 2015. The amount is a ten-fold increase from P560 million in the same period in 2014.

“Without a significant wage increase, without the regularization of contractuals, and without the free exercise of trade-union rights, GDP growth means nothing to workers. It could only mean growth for the economic elite,” said Elmer “Ka Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.

The labor leader reiterated workers’ demands for a P125 across-the-board wage hike, the enactment of a National Minimum Wage in the amount of P750 for private-sector workers, the banning of contractualization, and a stop to union busting.

“Workers’ demands for improvements in working conditions remain unheeded by the government. The overall effect is not growth but worsening hunger, poverty and indebtedness among workers and most Filipinos,” Labog added.

KMU cited independent think-tank Ibon Foundation’s claim that the GDP growth is still exclusionary for failing to solve the country’s job crisis, with unemployed and underemployed Filipinos numbering at 12.3 million in July 2015.

“The government and big capitalists claim that workers have to accept lower wages, contractual employment and trade-union repression so that the country can create more jobs. The country’s economic policies are clearly flawed because they result in worsening unemployment and worsening working conditions,” Labog stated.

Labog also said that only a shift in government policy towards land reform and building national industries can solve unemployment and at the same time improve working conditions for Filipinos.