‘Gov’t must provide stable jobs for graduates’

It’s the time of the year. But as graduates go up the stage to accept their diplomas, employment opportunities remain uncertain for them.

There are around 125,000 to 150,000 jobs waiting for new graduates in the business process outsourcing industry (BPO) alone, said Penny Bongato, Talent Development Director of Business Processing Association of the Philippines. The government is likewise boasting of a huge number of job opportunities. As always, the administration acts like there is nothing wrong; after all, there is always an insatiable need for labor in the BPO sector.

However, the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) believes that the government speaks of employment opportunities that are really not stable. In this case, we cannot simply say that “figures don’t lie,” for figures fail to say that these jobs are governed by oppressive schemes.

For instance, many BPO workers are contractual; they do not receive sufficient benefits and compensation, said CEGP National President Trina Federis. “Our manpower, in essence, is being sold to foreign corporations, but it is not our country that benefits from the steady flow of revenues in the BPO sector,” she explained.

Without warning, the company can easily axe employees, or fire them after a specific period of time. Cleverly, the companies always manage to get around the Labor Code, which requires them to regularize workers after at least six months.

In the end, many graduates spent pricey long years only to be enslaved by foreign corporations

The ABS-CBN Internal Job Market (IJM) workers, for one, were not regularized although most of them had spent more than 10 years in service. As if this was not enough, the station that claimed to be “in the service of the Filipino people” fired the IJM workers when they refused to accept a bogus regularization scheme in exchange for withdrawing their complaints against ABS-CBN. Nevermind if these workers have been serving the station for more than a decade now. For the station, the IJM workers are not their “kapamilya.”

“This only shows how the government is relying on foreign companies to provide jobs for Filipinos instead of generating stable employment opportunities and crafting policies that protect workers’ rights,” said Federis.

The young and unemployed have no other option but to just grab these temporary jobs for the sake of subsistence, said Ednalyn dela Cruz, CEGP national secretary general. In the end, many graduates spent pricey long years only to be enslaved by foreign corporations, she added.

“The alarming conditions necessitate concrete government action. It must make sure that corporations respect the rights of workers. But what has Noynoy Aquino’s administration done for the labor sector in its first year? Aquino even rejected the P125 wage hike despite escalating prices of commodities,” said dela Cruz.

Malacañang said last Tuesday that Aquino would not approve the P125 wage hike, which the workers have been asking for for more than a decade now. Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang said a legislated nationwide wage hike would cause “inflation pressures.”

But dela Cruz said the inflation rate increased in the last few months even without a legislated wage increase. If anything, Aquino’s refusal only proved that his administration has isolated itself from the masses he had claimed to serve during the campaign period, she added.###

holthaus@mailxu.com