Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Decline in Philippine unionism alarms labor leaders

By Margaux Ortiz Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines -- Pervasive contractualization and casualization of employment have weakened unionism among workers in the country and have left workers vulnerable to union-busting company owners.

This is according to an official of the National Union of Workers in the Hotel, Restaurant and Allied Industries (NUWHRAI), who said that the prevalence of labor contractualization has been contributing to the significant reduction of legitimate labor organizations.

“Workers' engagement in intermittent and short-term employment affects, not only their ability to earn livelihood, but also their productivity and quality of work,” Daniel Edralin, NUWHRAI secretary general, said.

Edralin added that less unionism "rendered workers' right to security of tenure meaningless.”

Edralin explained that with severely depleted memberships, unions have been finding it difficult to repel the union-busting actions and schemes of their employers.

“Consequently, the number of legitimate labor organizations continues to decline,” he said.

Edralin added that there has been a decrease in establishments with collective bargaining agreements (CBAs).

He said that based on government data, the number of legitimate labor organizations presently number to 17,021, with a membership of 1,918,000.

“This is insignificant when one considers that we have 783,065 establishments with a total workforce of 33,695,000 in the Philippines today,” Edralin pointed out.

He added that of the 17,021 establishments with legitimate labor organizations, only 1,542 legitimate labor organizations were able to secure CBAs in 2007.

Edralin pointed out that this decreased from 1,670 in 2006.

“This insignificant number of CBAs benefited only 218,000 workers, a reduction from the 236,000 workers in 2006—both far below our total 33 million workforce,” he said.

Edralin disclosed that in the 1990s, around 550,000 workers were covered by these agreements.

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