A STEADY stream of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) mostly from the Middle East affected by turbulence there has been returning to the Philippines in recent years. What is the government doing to help them find employment here?
They may end up in low-paying and temporary jobs, or suffer from having no jobs at all, thereby bloating the already huge unemployment figures. The government’s domestic job generation must be enhanced for sure.
According to the labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno, what the government has been doing is create informal jobs. What else does this government have in store for retrenched workers locally and abroad apart from sweeping streets and other informal jobs? They should not be left with the sole choice of joining the informal sector, which is not covered by social protection measures and minimum wage regulation. The informal sector in the country includes jeepney drivers, tricycle drivers, vendors, own-account employees, home-based workers, among others. Quite tragically, the poor employment opportunities at home, which push Filipinos to seek decent livelihood in other countries, will still be the final destination of our laid-off kababayans abroad.
A surge in unemployment or the informal sector will further cause greater poverty in the country; more low-wage informals would mean diminished purchasing power for Filipinos, thus higher hunger statistics and poverty figures. This would in turn result in lower consumption and productivity.
The significant number of affected Filipino workers in the Middle East should serve as an alarm signal to the government to pursue the creation of decent jobs at home and push for higher wages, rather than dish out worn-out praises such as “mga bagong bayani” to our OFWs.