21 March 2010
More than just mulling over the distribution of female condoms, the labor department should act on the demand of Filipino workers for a nationwide wage hike and creation of decent jobs, labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno said today.
KMU said the plan of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to provide free condoms for women workers nationwide can never ease rising joblessness and declining quality of work in the country.
“Condoms can never protect workers from the pangs of hunger and poverty. It is the least that workers need at this point when steep prices, stagnant wages and joblessness make decent living very difficult,” said KMU secretary general Roger Soluta.
“What the labor department should be mulling over is the creation of regular and decent jobs, especially as new graduates are set to enter the labor population in the coming days.” he added.
Soluta said Filipino workers are suffering more from hunger than from threats of HIV/AIDS infection. Citing the most recent survey of Social Weather Station, he said one out of four Filipino families experience hunger due to the failure of the Arroyo government to raise wage levels, provide decent employment, and keep price levels down.
The government itself projected that close to three million Filipinos are jobless, with the January unemployment rate at 7.3 percent, higher than the October jobless rate. Wage levels in all regions remain frozen despite successive increases in price of basic commodities.
“Condom distribution cannot also hide the fact that the Arroyo government has consistently evaded the much-needed P125-legislated wage hike nationwide,” Soluta said.
BPO as AIDS Hub
The labor leader added that the Arroyo government should also be upfront on the prevalence of HIV/AIDS cases in the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector, which is dubbed as a “sunshine industry” by Arroyo.
“With DOLE’s plan to dish out condoms, Arroyo tries in vain to sidestep the alarming rate of HIV/AIDS cases in call centers in the name of insulating foreign BPO businesses from criticism,” Soluta said.
Roger Soluta, KMU Secretary General