NEARLY 70,000 workers were permanently displaced in the first five months of the year amid the novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19) crisis, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said on Wednesday.
Citing the latest displacement report from the Bureau of Local Employment (BLE), Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III said they registered 69,022 employees who were retrenched by 2,068 firms from January to June 8, 2020.
Most or 25,634 of the affected workers were employed in the administrative and support service activities.
There were also significant retrenchments in the following industries: manufacturing (8,400); other service activities (6,095); wholesale and retail trade, repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles (6,172); accommodation and food services activities (4,001); professional, scientific and technical activities (3,938); information and communication (3,470); financial and insurance (2,996); and construction (2,537).
Those with the least labor displacements are education (2,464); transportation and storage (1,975); agriculture, forestry and fishing (1,344); electricity, gas, steam and air-conditioning supply (479); human health and social work activities (450); real estate (390); arts and entertainment and recreation (293); mining and quarrying (151); water supply, sewerage, waste management and remediation activities (3).
The bulk of the affected workers were registered in the National Capital Region (NCR) and Calabarzon.
The initial displacement figure this year was higher than that of full-year 2018, which was only 68,587. It is also expected to exceed the 88,947 full-year figure in 2019 as community quarantines continue to restrict business operations nationwide.
The DOLE earlier projected the number of unemployed workers this year could be as high as 3 million to 5 million.
In the April round of its Labor Force Survey, the Philippine Statistic Authority (PSA) said 7.3 million workers were unemployed nationwide.
Bello, however, noted that the figure of PSA is not based on “actual figures” like their displacement report.
“The 7.3 million is based on the survey result, not on actual [figures],” Bello explained.
The DOLE’s displacement report is the consolidation of data submitted by companies. It does not include unreported retrenchments, as well as the displacement of informal sector workers.
Meanwhile, the Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (Sentro) slammed the DOLE’s alleged attempt to play down the number of unemployed workers.
“We suspect that Secretary Bello’s delusion is aimed at downplaying the gravity of the situation that is now upon us to justify the government’s anemic response to what the World Bank warns as the worst recession in 150 years,” Sentro secretary general Joshua Mata said.
Federation of Free Workers (FFW) vice president Julius Cainglet also criticized Bello’s statement, especially since the government is now preparing a stimulus package for Covid-affected establishments and workers.
“The reason we generate data is we want to be guided in the policy decisions government takes. Government should respond based on what the numbers tell us. The DOLE should not interpret the numbers differently just to suit its policy biases or just to make it look good,” Cainglet said.
Instead of reinterpreting PSA data, both labor leaders called on the DOLE to just focus on addressing the labor impact of Covid-19.
Image credits: Roy Domingo