March 2, 2009
With the advent of women’s month, women workers are renewing the call for a bailout package for workers and the poor. “In times of crisis, the usual coping mechanisms of the workers and the poor would be the safety net of family relations. This traditional safety net unduly relies on the unpaid work of women family members. Thus the double burden of women workers will be heavier as the crisis deepens,” argued Judy Ann Miranda, secretary-general of the Partido ng Manggagawa (PM).
She added that “The grave impact of the crisis on women in general and women workers in particular is the urgent theme of women’s month for this year. The government must provide the safety net of social protection so that workers and the poor do not rely exclusively on the coping mechanism of family relations and women are not weighed down by the heavier double burden. In this double burden, women are exploited as cheap labor in the factories and then utilized as unpaid workers in the home.”
PM is campaigning for a 5-point bailout package for workers and the poor that consist of (1) subsidy for displaced workers from the SSS, GSIS and OWWA; (2) tax refund for wage earners; (2) expansion and reform of the public employment program; (3) extension of health care coverage for displaced workers; and (5) moratorium on demolitions and evictions.
Many of the tens of thousands that have fallen victim to permanent layoffs, work rotations and other flexibility schemes are women workers. In the two industries that have been greatly affected by the global crisis—electronics and garments—women workers are the overwhelming majority.
The country’s top two exports are electronics and, apparel and clothing accessories accounting for $2.6 billion and $181 million in revenues as of the September 2008 data of the National Statistics Office. About 18% of exports are sent to the US and then 14% to Japan, both of which are in recession.