23 May 2014
What do unemployed, underpaid, and oppressed workers who dominate the labor market in Asia expect when business elites and their respective governments meet in an exclusive talk shop such as the ongoing World Economic Forum (WEF) in Manila?
For the labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), Asia’s precariats will gain nothing from this process.
“WEF is not about people. It’s all about corporations, their investments, and new market opportunities,” said PM Chair Renato Magtubo, asserting further that even if President Aquino gives praises on the role of ordinary Filipinos played in the country’s economic turnaround, the WEF’s business agenda will never change.
Magtubo said corporations did grow in Asia so as the number of billionaires in the region. Yet these growths remain jobless and highly unequal.
The Philippines, he added, “is not a fantastic story of economic miracle but an old testament to this kind of regional growth pattern where a handful of business elites control more than half the economy.”
Based on PM’s own study, the combined wealth (estimated at US$45.3-B) for the Philippines’ richest 10 is equal to the annual income of 21 million minimum wage earners.
“The Philippine government cannot claim ‘inclusive growth’ until this ratio of inequality is effectively reversed,” stressed Magtubo.
Magtubo said further that if ever there will be mention of “people” at WEF’s grandiose workshops it won’t go beyond the context of market – open markets for corporate products and cut-price and flexible labor markets for their efficient operations.
“Thus the WEF cannot brag about wonders and miracles when Asia remains the biggest home to the world’s poorest people epitomized by workers in vulnerable employment,” lamented Magtubo.
The Asian region has the highest rate ofinformalization in the world. As defined, informal workers are the own-account (self-employed) and unpaid family workers combined. They also include workers in irregular (contractuals) or seasonal employment.
Recently they have been labelled as precariats or workers living in precarious working conditions. The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimated the Asia-wide “vulnerable employment” in 2007 at 1.1 billion people or 62.2 percent of all workers in the region. Informalization in the Philippines is estimated to be between 41 to 77 percent.
Meanwhile PM anticipates a big push for charter change after the WEF in Manila as foreign chamber of commerce, specifically that of the US and EU, have long been lobbying for the removal of economic restrictions imposed by our Constitution on foreign ownership.
“A grand conspiracy for cha-cha, we believe, is underway with the President’s allies in Congress getting a silent imprimatur from Malacanang to proceed with their sinister move to pass the cha-cha resolution while everybody is distracted with the Napolists,” concluded Magtubo.