Organized labor in Region 8 demands jobs-led recovery program in Yolanda hit areas

A much better community and a life full of great opportunities for the victims of Yolanda. A new community prepared not only for another Yolanda but also for a new environment where people are not mere subjects of rulers in government but are themselves creators and administrators of these opportunities.

With this vision in mind, formal and informal workers in Region 8 bonded together into Tingog (Voice) in a planning workshop held in Cebu City today, to pursue a jobs-led recovery program in Yolanda hit areas. Tingog is composed of public and private sector local unions and informal workers in the transport and agricultural sectors affiliated with the labor coalition Nagkaisa! Nagkaisa! is primarily composed in the region by members of the Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Mangagagawa (SENTRO), Federation of Free Workers (FFW), Associated Labor Unions – Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP), Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), and the Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK) and independent unions.

Tingog members said that aside from the very slow relief and disorganized, disjointed, top-down rehabilitation process being conducted by the government, its “Build Back Better” (BBB) theme is far from being realistic as it lacked the most critical element of a cohesive recovery program — peoples’ participation. It also lacked clear ideas on what really this BBB means.

They explained that until today, people are still getting mixed or worst, no information at all on what recovery programs are available, how they can be availed and to how much they cost. And most importantly, it does not contain a process to how the people, especially organized groups, can advance a collective proposal to build better and sustainable communities.

In particular, the group is pushing for a jobs-led recovery program to address the high unemployment rate and poverty incidence in the region. These demands include jobs preservation and employment generation.

On jobs preservation, Tingog demands that jobs, especially those that involved delivery of services, must be enhanced and protected.

On job generation, the group will be asking the government to incentivize industries that would generate mass employment, including the creation of climate jobs — primarily on power, transport, and public employment for universal healthcare and environmental protection. For these Tingog said there must be a regional industrial policy to ensure that labor rights are not undermined by the new investment environment.

Tingog likewise include in its demands a comprehensive support for livelihood programs for the unemployed and package of social protection that would ensure the rights of informal settlers to decent socialized housing, healthcare, and price control/subsidies or price stabilization on prices of building materials, food, medicines, and other essential services.

Lastly the group also proposes an active community-based and managed disaster risk reduction plans.

Meanwhile, Tingog declared they are willing to engage both the national and local governments as well as international agencies doing rehabilitation efforts in Yolanda hit areas.

They will launch the movement when they get back to Tacloban and will lead a Labor Day celebration to press for their demands.

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