Archive for the ‘Labor’ Category

Last year, the Fair Trade Alliance (FairTrade) brought to the public’s consciousness the economic dimension of the unregulated exodus of our health and mission-critical workers through a one-page ad entitled “Saan Pupulutin Ang Pilipinas Kung Wala Nang Industriya?” The Alliance raised the grave threats facing the country because of the unchecked outflow of mission-critical skills and talents such as the likely closure of more hospitals, the grounding of the domestic aviation industry and the collapse of critical industries, e.g., power, steel, petrochemical and telecoms industries. The ad generated a lot of discussions and debates on the FairTrade’s stand.

Some neo-liberal economists are saying that the exodus problematique can easily be solved through the free interplay of the supply and demand forces, specifically through the increased training and education of pilots, engineers and other mission-critical personnel and professionals. They argued that the remaining industries should simply invest more in the training of new pilots, engineers and other professionals to replace those who have left the country.

This answer is a non-solution.

First, it takes time to identify, develop and hone talents and skills. Second, it is expensive to invest in the development of these talents and skills. Finally, our own industry becomes less competitive and loses out in global competition while waiting for the new talents and skills to be developed.

As it is,we are honing skills and talents for other countries, which have managed to avoid invest time and money in producing their own mission-critical personnel and professionals. In the process, they are able to save their own critical industries and economy, while our own industries suffer and even collapse.

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By Bernadette S. Sto.Domingo
Published on the September 4, 2007 issue of the BusinessWorld

COUNTRIES IN SOUTHEAST Asia and the Pacific, the Philippines included, were the least labor productive in Asia, with not enough employment opportunities being created in the region, the International Labor Office (ILO) said in its latest “Key Indicators of the Labor Market.”

The executive summary of that report described labor productivity in Southeast Asia and the Pacific as “stagnant,” compared to the rest of Asia.

It said productivity, measured in US dollars as output per person employed, in the region was much slower than other regions, posting an average annual increase of just 1.6% between 1996 and 2006.

And in Southeast Asia, the Philippines posted the lowest productivity in 2005 among the five original members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

The study showed workers in the Philippines added $7,271 in value to the economy in 2005, compared to a $9,067 average for “Southeast Asia and the Pacific.”

The average for the eight Southeast Asian markets surveyed was $14,062.25 for 2005.

Value added per worker in the Philippines’ Southeast Asian neighbors varied widely. Philippine workers’ output was better than: $2,853 in Cambodia; $4,541 in Myanmar; and $4,809 in Vietnam. But workers in the Philippines fared poorly compared to counterparts in the four other original ASEAN members, namely: $9,022 in Indonesia; $13,915 in Thailand; $22,112 in Malaysia; and $47,975 in Singapore.
Labor productivity in South Asia averaged $7,531 in 2005. Productivity in the four markets in that region measured as follows: $3,315 in Bangladesh; $6,587 in India; $8,247 in Pakistan; and $11,323 in Sri Lanka.

Rene E. Ofreneo, executive director of Fair Trade Alliance and former dean of the University of the Philippines School of Labor and Industrial Relations, said the Philippines needs a strategic road map for productivity upgrading.

“We have embraced globalization in a rather aimless way, unlike other neighboring countries in East Asia. We need a clear industrial vision. We need to invest in the industry particularly in technology, new machinery, factories, etc.,” he said in an interview.

He said the government and the private sector should be more decisive on the issue of smuggling, dumping of excess goods in the country, recalibrating trade liberalization commitment, as well as acquiring new technology.

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THE Fair Trade Alliance (FairTrade), a broad multisectoral coalition advocating trade and economic reforms, opposed yesterday a proposal at the Tariff Commission to allow importation of cement at zero tariff.

FairTrade lead convenor Wigberto Tañada said that manufacturers in China, Taiwan, Japan and other competing countries would be shipping their cement to the Philippines especially when they run out of silos and warehouses to store their quick-hardening cement.

Tañada expressed alarm yesterday that cement imports will harvest the benefits of the billion-peso infrastructure program to the detriment of the local cement industry.

There will be unfair competition, the Tañada said, because the imports will sell excess production at prices much lower than the prices in their respective countries.

“These excess capacities are targeted for the Philippines because of our fast growing market for infrastructure building,” Tañada said.  “There is no more room for this quick hardening surplus cement in their silos and warehouses,” he said. “The factories in China, Japan and other countries would ship them out at artificially low prices. They have little to lose.”

Ironically, he said, the government itself could be encouraging the massive entry of imports by eliminating import tariff of five per cent (MFN).

“We are like surrendering the market to imports on a silver platter,” Tañada reiterated.

Predatory pricing by imports is aimed at exterminating local manufacturers, he said. Once the imports control the market, they will dictate the prices.

Also, Tañada said that the country should be consistent with its objective of building self-sufficiency in cement, a strategic raw material that supports the labor-intensive construction industry.

“If we become vulnerable to fluctuations in supply of cement in the world market, our construction industry would face risks of project postponements and even cancellations,” he said.

“Many of our labor force in the labor-intensive construction business would be thrown out of work,” he said.

Further, Tañada said, the quality of cement imports is not as closely checked and monitored as Philippine cement.

“The Filipino and domestic manufacturing industries should be supported and nurtured,” he said.

He said there are 10 domestic companies already competing in the local market.

The joint communiqué signed by labor and industry, creating a new paradigm on labor and capital relation, is now being implemented.

The communiqué entitled “Social Partnership on Decent Work, Productivity and Competitiveness,” through the efforts of the Fair Trade Alliance (FairTrade) and the Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI), adopted the principle of “social-partnering” as a general guide in the relationship of employers, and unions and workers.

On the basis of the “Social Partnership” framework, the Philippine Employer-Labor Social Partners, Inc. or PELSPI was organized to implement the finer points of the communiqué.

PELSPI will follow the joint communique’s core principle of attaining decent work, productivity and competitiveness by harmonizing employer-labor relations, overcoming deep-seated labor-capital enmities. PELSPI will also aid in identifying areas where the interests of both labor and industry converge and diverge, promotion of efforts to accommodate each party’s interests to the maximum possible and resolution of conflicts in a harmonious win-win situation.

Another main task of PELSPI is to strengthen social partnership in “crisis” periods. PELSPI will help in the need of industry and enterprises to adopt appropriate competitiveness adjustment measures needed to remain viable and profitable.

PELSPI will also help facilitate the rebuilding and sustaining of the nation’s Agro-Industrial base by supporting the Nationalist Development Agenda being pushed by FairTrade in close consultation with FPI and other affiliate labor organizations. Specifically, PELSPI endorse the five-point agenda contained in the NDA’s Roadmap calling for the country to –

  • Adopt A Coherent, Balanced and Pro-Filipino Development Compass,
  • Rebuild the Nation’s Fences,
  • Build Up the Nation’s Productive and Competitive Capacity,
  • Unleash the People’s Productive Capacity, and
  • Develop a culture of Industrialism, Tangkilikan, Excellence and Economic Nationalism

The measures under the 5-point agenda should form part of the official National Competitiveness Strategy (NCS), according to PELSPI.

PELSPI  actively seeks the help of the academe, particularly the University of the Philippines – School of Labor and Industrial Relations (UP – SOLAIR), as a third partner, to help facilitate the planning, organizing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating of the specific labor-management projects.

Finally, PELSPI will facilitate meetings and forums formalizing each and every stakeholder’s commitment to a common future. Helping instill in everyone involved the necessary mindset and making everyone aware of the foregoing premises and principles of social partnership.

PELSPI will be having a launching press conference on April 25 at SAVORY Restaurant, 201 Escolta, Binondo, Manila from 10 AM to 12 NN.

The labor sector of the Fair Trade Alliance (FairTrade) questions the decision the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) not to grant the definitive safeguard to the petitioner, CAWC Inc., a manufacturer of Sodium Tripolyphosphates (STPP), even after the Tariff Commission found sufficient cause for granting it.

STPP is an essential ingredient used for making laundry detergents. STPP comprises approximately 20 to 28 percent of detergent powders and 3 to 12 percent of detergent bars.

In its decision, the DTI reversed the ruling of the Tariff Commission to give a three-year definitive safeguard to CAWC. DTI completely disregarded the finding of Tariff Commission, which has established the existence of a causal link between the increased imports of STPP and the serious industry to the domestic STPP industry.

“We therefore urge Secretary Favila to stand by the findings of the Tariff Commission which was done in a scientific manner. This decision of Tariff Commission does not violate existing laws. In fact, it is well within Philippine Safeguard Law (RA8800) and the rules of the World Trade Organization”, emphasized Fair Trade labor convenor Angelito Mendoza.

Mendoza said, “The imposition of a safeguard is just and fair, given the predatory behavior of the importers-exporters involved in the dumping of Chinese STPP into the domestic market and given the now comatose state of the domestic STPP industry.”

The Tariff Commission report said that STPP imports in 2005 cornered 65% of the market from a low of 20-30 percent in the previous years. Furthermore, according to the report, the decline in the market share of the domestic industry is directly attributable to the significant increase in imported STPP in 2005.

The deluge of imports resulted in less than 25% capacity utilization of the local STPP industry resulting in job losses and a continuing shut down since 2005. “Clearly, the local STPP industry, most especially its workers, needs the safeguard in order to preserve their existing jobs.” Mendoza said.

“The only way for CAWC to survive is by ‘equalizing’ the business playing field for the locals – through the imposition of the definitive safeguard tariff against importers who seem to have the habit of breaking all the rules of fair trade.

“Iilan na lang ang industriya sa Pilipinas. Hahayaan ba nating tumumba ang isa na naman, na nagkataong isang basic industry? Papayagan ba natin na maging dumping ground na lamang ang Pilipinas ng produkto ng ibang bayang ayaw sumunod sa fair trade rules?, Mendoza added.

Tariff Commission’s Formal Investigation Report on Sodium Tripolyphosphates (STPP)
FairTrade urges DTI to reverse ruling on STPP safeguard
Cheaper soaps is good for public

Published online at ABS-CBN Interactive, December 6, 2006

A new paradigm on labor and capital relation will be put to test after representatives of various labor and industry groups signed a joint communique that “intends to end the traditional animosity between labor and capital.”

The joint statement, entitled “Social Partnership on Decent Work, Productivity and Competitiveness,” was the product of the efforts of the Fair Trade Alliance (FTA) and the Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI).

Wigberto Tañada, FTA lead convenor, said the signing of the communique Tuesday is a signal that labor and industry leaders agree “to build a new productive win-win industrial relationship based on mutual trust and confidence.”

Dean Jorge Sibal of the UP School of Labor and Industrial Relations said the communique is a response to globalization.

“Domestic labor and capital need to harness their complementary traits and work together in resolving their inherent differences to continue meeting competition from the outside,” he said.

Labor groups, meanwhile, said the threat of globalization became more real with local industries slowing down production if not actually ceasing operations. The more pressing issue now, members said, is job security.

While partnering is based on the premise of “understanding and accommodation of each other’s interests,” it does not mean there will no longer be strikes.

Meneleo Carlos, chairman of the Federation of Philippine Industries, said the communique will continue to recognize the right to collective bargaining and the right to strike.

Carlos said industrial peace is beyond strikes and lockouts. Progress and industrial harmony, he said, means raising the productivity level of the workers.

Addressing the launch of the communique Tuesday at the Club Filipino, Cavite Gov. Irineo Maliksi, took pride in having his province as pilot area for a labor-industry social covenant signed last year.

The finer points of the communique, however, still need to be fleshed-out, Sibal said. Representatives of the various groups will meet first week of December to discuss the measures for the implementation of the
agreement.

Published online at ABS-CBN Interactive, December 6, 2006

A new paradigm on labor and capital relation will be put to test after representatives of various labor and industry groups signed a joint communique that “intends to end the traditional animosity between labor and capital.”

The joint statement, entitled “Social Partnership on Decent Work, Productivity and Competitiveness,” was the product of the efforts of the Fair Trade Alliance (FTA) and the Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI).

Wigberto Tañada, FTA lead convenor, said the signing of the communique Tuesday is a signal that labor and industry leaders agree “to build a new productive win-win industrial relationship based on mutual trust and confidence.”

Dean Jorge Sibal of the UP School of Labor and Industrial Relations said the communique is a response to globalization.

“Domestic labor and capital need to harness their complementary traits and work together in resolving their inherent differences to continue meeting competition from the outside,” he said.

Labor groups, meanwhile, said the threat of globalization became more real with local industries slowing down production if not actually ceasing operations. The more pressing issue now, members said, is job security.

While partnering is based on the premise of “understanding and accommodation of each other’s interests,” it does not mean there will no longer be strikes.

Meneleo Carlos, chairman of the Federation of Philippine Industries, said the communique will continue to recognize the right to collective bargaining and the right to strike.

Carlos said industrial peace is beyond strikes and lockouts. Progress and industrial harmony, he said, means raising the productivity level of the workers.

Addressing the launch of the communique Tuesday at the Club Filipino, Cavite Gov. Irineo Maliksi, took pride in having his province as pilot area for a labor-industry social covenant signed last year.

The finer points of the communique, however, still need to be fleshed-out, Sibal said. Representatives of the various groups will meet first week of December to discuss the measures for the implementation of the
agreement.

Labor-management pact

Published on 8/S1 of the November 29, 2006 issue of the BusinessWorld

A newly formed labor-capital alliance will seek ways to address various problems hounding businesses, including widespread smuggling which is pressuring several businesses to close shop year after year. Fair Trade Alliance lead convenor Wigberto Tañada noted the manufacturing sector loses about P175 billion a year to smuggling, which includes the proliferation of ukay-ukay shops. He said this is the first order of the day, after labor groups and the Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI) signed their joint communiqué yesterday. The joint communiqué aims to improve employee-employer relations in a bid to boost labor productivity, benefiting both firms and their workers. FPI labor and productivity committee head Wilson Tiu said the groups will “put flesh” into the communiqué on December 8. The communiqué states that the “labor and capital agree to undertake concerted action to harmonize macroeconomic goals and state policies with the goals and activities of the major labor and industry organizations.”

By Cher Jimenez
Published on the November 29, 2006 issue of the BusinessMirror

LABOR and industry representatives hope to turn globalization from a problem to an opportunity for increased productivity and competitiveness as they sign a joint social communiqué Tuesday that, first and foremost, intends to end the traditional animosity between them.

The joint statement entitled “Social Partnership on Decent Work, Productivity and Competitiveness,” was launched Tuesday at the Club Filipino in San Juan, an effort that was initiated by the Fair Trade Alliance (FTA) and the Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI).

Signatories to the agreement that include various private employers and labor unions agree to address the “root causes and the multifaceted dimensions of the nation’s eroding agro-industrial base and its negative impact on employment and social stability.”

In putting into practice what they had agreed upon since initial discussions in 2003, labor and employers agree to adopt the principle of “social partnering.”

Former Sen. Wigberto Tañada, FTA lead convenor, said it is about time that labor and employers work together to save the country’s weakening local industries.

“Their social partnering could not have come at a more opportune time. In fact, in truth, this has been long overdue for we have been in deep economic crisis for such a long time. With our weak economic performance over the last 30 years under the neo-liberal economic program of accelerated, nonconsultative, one-sided liberalization, our agro-industrial base has been eroded and continues to be eroded.

Thus, our dream of industrialization remains a dream,” Tañada noted.

“With the signing of this social communiqué, labor and employers have agreed to overcome and transcend their traditional industrial enmities, discord and hostility. Not only that, they have also agreed to build a new productive win-win industrial relationship based on mutual trust and confidence,” he added.

Jesus Arranza, FPI president, expressed hope that with this new partnership the “government will set in not as a referee but as a nurturer.”

Meneleo Carlos Jr., FPI’s chairman of the board, explained that “globalization could turn from a problem to an opportunity” as productivity and competitiveness result from industrial peace.

One major issue that is killing the domestic industry, according to Jose Umali Jr., national secretary-general of the Union Network International-Philippine Liaison Council, is smuggling.

Tañada said the illegal entry of goods despite low tariff has been “killing the domestic industry” and is depriving the government of billions of pesos in revenues.

According to him, estimated losses due to smuggling have reached P175 billion a year and have been a major reason why manufacturing plants close down.

The FPI’s involvement in the endeavor, said the former senator, clearly shows its strong effect on local employers.

By next month, labor and employer representatives are scheduled to meet again “to put flesh in the framework” with academe headed by the University of the Philippines School of Labor and Industrial Relations (UP SOLAIR) acting as third party.

Asked if this agreement would mean an end to labor strikes, the participants say it may lessen labor disputes, but that is just a concern secondary to increasing productivity and competitiveness

Published on the November 15, 2006 issue of the BusinessMirror

It must be a sign of the changing times that today, there are far fewer strikes and other protest actions by workers than in the past three decades.

But rather than mount work slowdowns or pickets to protest low wages and bad working conditions, Filipino workers are voting with their feet and leaving for abroad at the rate of 2,000 to 3,000 a day.

That Filipino workers are abandoning class struggle in large numbers and embracing capitalism with a passion must certainly be giving leaders of the local Communist Party sleepless nights. If the prevailing sentiment among workers is, “It is better to be exploited and oppressed than to have no work at all,” then we may be seeing a seismic shift away from the previously hardline stance taken by the militant labor federations toward “class conciliation” preached by their counterparts in conservative labor circles.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the recent move by various labor and industry groups to come to an agreement to forge better employee-employer relations and to address the country’s labor-cost competitiveness.

A team composed of representatives from the Federation of Philippine Industries, Fair Trade Alliance, the Federation of Free Workers and the University of the Philippines School of Labor and Industrial Relations (UP-Solair), among others, are now drafting the contents of the Joint Communiqué on Decent Work, Productivity and Competitiveness that is expected to be signed by the heads of industry groups and labor organization on November 28.

According to UP-Solair, the advent of globalization now demands that domestic labor and capital harness their complementary traits and work together in resolving their inherent differences to meet the stiff competition from the outside.

The communiqué is merely the first step, according to organizers, in creating a big movement that will collectively tackle issues both at the macro side, which are government policies, and at the micro level, or the ways to promote industrial peace in the workplace.

If this united front comes to pass, will this drive the last nail on the coffin of militant trade unionism in this country?




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  • Founded in 2001, the Fair Trade Alliance (FairTrade) of the Philippines is a broad multisectoral coalition of formal and informal labor, industry, agriculture, NGOs and youth pushing for trade and economic reforms.
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