DAVAO CITY – Workers said they did not feel the six percent increase in the country’s Gross Domestic Product for third quarter, citing pressures on wages like contractual scheme and consumer prices, the progressive labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno said on Friday.

The National Statistics and Coordination Board on Thursday said “GDP grew year-on-year by 6.0 percent in the third quarter of 2015.” According to NSCB, this year’s increase is higher than the growth rates of 5.8 percent in the second quarter of 2015 and the 5.5 percent in the third quarter of 2014.

But KMU said “working conditions continue to deteriorate as wages continue to be pressed down, contractual employment continues to be promoted, and trade-union rights continue to be violated.”

It cited flag carrier Philippine Airlines’ retrenchment of 117 workers in September, who will be replaced by agency workers despite PAL Holdings’ reported P5.8 billion net income in the first half of 2015. The amount is a ten-fold increase from P560 million in the same period in 2014.

“Without a significant wage increase, without the regularization of contractuals, and without the free exercise of trade-union rights, GDP growth means nothing to workers. It could only mean growth for the economic elite,” said Elmer Labog, KMU chairperson.

Labog said what they want is a P125 across-the-board wage hike, the enactment of a national minimum wage of P750 for private-sector workers, the ban of contractualization, and a stop to union busting.

“Workers’ demands for improvements in working conditions remain unheeded by the government. The overall effect is not growth, but worsening hunger, poverty and indebtedness among workers and most Filipinos,” Labog added.

Labog also reacted to government and big businesses claim that “workers have to accept lower wages, contractual employment and trade-union repression so that the country can create more jobs.”

“The country’s economic policies are clearly flawed because they result in worsening unemployment and worsening working conditions,” Labog said.

Meanwhile, Ibon Foundation said the GDP growth is still exclusionary for failing to solve the country’s job crisis, with unemployed and underemployed Filipinos numbering at 12.3 million in July 2015.

Labog added that the government should shift its policy towards land reform and building national industries to solve unemployment. (davaotoday.com)

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