Wake Up, Philippines!

Gov’t should stop raising OFWs’ hopes

Posted in Employment, Global Financial Crisis, Government, OFWs, Unemployment by Erineus on February 3, 2009

This refers to the news item titled, “Gov’t searching for more overseas jobs.” (Philippine Daily Inquirer, 01/25/ 09)

The Philippine government is raising false hopes with its repeated assurances that jobless Filipinos can find job openings in Australia and New Zealand; that these countries are “relatively insulated from the financial turmoil.”

The truth is Prime Minister John Key has said that New Zealand sees no economic growth and higher unemployment this year because of the impact of the global financial crisis. Meanwhile, the Finance Sector Union reported that between 5,000 and 20,000 jobs have been lost in Australia. The giant US construction equipment maker, Caterpillar, which has operations in Australia, is cutting 20,000 jobs worldwide.

Furthermore, the new “90 Day Bill” or “fire-at-will” bill comes as another threat to job security for Filipinos and other migrant workers in New Zealand. Under the 90 Day Bill, employers who are employing fewer than 20 people would have the right to sack workers in their first 90 days without the need to give any reason for such a decision. Clearly, the 90 Day Bill is New Zealand’s version of the “six-month labor contractualization” in the Philippines, a policy that deprives thousands of Filipinos of job security and forces them to seek jobs abroad at the cost of leaving their loved ones behind.

The Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo government continues to ignore the challenge to fulfill the state’s obligation to generate and secure jobs at home. This challenge was issued by migrant workers during the Global Forum on Migration and Development. Last December, Malacañang also issued Administrative Order 247 for the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration to “execute a paradigm shift by refocusing its functions from regulation to full-blast market development efforts, the exploration of frontier, fertile job markets for Filipino expatriate workers.”

No country is immune to the current wave of job losses, and Filipinos will find it harder to keep their jobs abroad. Therefore, the full-blast marketing of cheap Filipino labor is not the answer to the country’s chronic crisis. More than ever, securing jobs at home through genuine land reform and national industrialization must be pursued. AO 247 is a vain attempt of the Arroyo government to promote its labor export policy while completely disregarding the people’s clamor for urgent socio-economic reforms.

Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families certainly deserve a new government that will seriously address the roots of forced migration and the country’s chronic crisis. Someone who misused millions of public funds (including the hard-earned money of OFWs) to steal the presidency has no right to stay in power. Aside from corruption and human rights violations, the Arroyo administration’s perennial neglect of migrants’ rights and welfare gives us more reason to demand its ouster.

DENNIS MAGA, national coordinator, Migrante Aotearoa New Zealand, migrante_nz@yahoo.com

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:21:00 02/03/2009