Friday, January 22, 2021

Nagkaisa calls for public employment, wage recovery amid massive job loss and escalating prices

The recent spike in mass layoffs points to what Nagkaisa has been saying for several months now - when economic recovery is nowhere in sight, government needs to step in as an employer of last resort.

As such, rather than waste its time on charter change and witchunting, NAGKAISA is calling on Congress and the Executive to rectify their errors when they failed to incorporate a robust public employment program in the budget for 2021, by passing Bayanihan 3. The insufficient stimulus package is now proving fatal to our MSMEs and to their workers.

In its proposal for an Unemployment Support and Work Assistance Guarantee (USWAG), NAGKAISA calls for income guarantees for those who lost income due to “no work, no pay” policy, as well as several programs for those unemployed including job guarantees (an enhanced TUPAD that provides for a minimum of 3 months of employment), paid trainings under TESDA and the filling up as well as expansion of the public sector to upgrade our public health system and other social services like housing for the poor and to implement climate adaptation and mitigation programs. To finance this program, NAGKAISA is calling for wealth tax. 

Aside from the public employment program, Nagkaisa is also calling for wage recovery amidst the escalating prices of food and other necessities. The current real minimum wage of P434, as shown in the wage table of the National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC), clearly indicates that the P537 minimum wage has already been eroded. 

For this reason, workers are now asking for P100 to recover their lost purchasing power during the pandemic and to improve their standard of living as part of building back better.

However, the government must also ensure adequate supply of commodities especially food, otherwise, we will only be trapped in wage-price spiral. Food and transport prices are the main sources of inflation according to the December 2020 CPI report of BSP. The government must identify and address bottlenecks in supply chain. Importing food will certainly help stabilize prices, however, this must be coupled by extending adequate support to local meat production, which suffered massive losses due to ASF. The government must view support to domestic food production as part of economic and employment recovery. 

NAGKAISA strongly believes that a massive public employment program, support to key sectors of the economy, and wage recovery would be keys to economic recovery. 

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