Groups to national gov’t: Ease plight of poor families, struggling workers

MEMBERS of cause-oriented and civil society groups called on the national government to ease the plight of urban poor families and struggling workers as population growth, climate change and other issues are affecting them.

In the recent 2022 Dagyaw Town Hall Meeting held at the Cebu Parklane International Hotel on Nov. 16, 2022, some government and civil society organizations discussed social problems believed to hinder the growth of Cebu’s cities.

Francisco Fernandez, founder of Pagtambayayong Foundation Inc., said the increasing population growth in highly urbanized cities contributed to the many jobless and homeless individuals in urban areas despite their rapid development.

Another factor, he said, is progressing climate change, which results in extreme calamities such as super typhoons, massive landslides, and flash floods, among others.

About 14,000 families in Cebu City situated within the three-meter easement zone among its major rivers are currently being displaced. But if climate change continues to progress, all of us will be affected by massive flash floods soon, said Fernandez.

Fernandez also mentioned the increase in privatization among basic facilities such as electricity and gasoline facilities and some public markets.

He said many urban communities have been eradicated to pave the way for building many privately owned establishments.

Inflation and retrenchment

Dennis Derige, regional coordinator of Partido Manggagawa Sentro, discussed the rise in inflation, which has gone up to 7.7 percent in October 2022, slightly higher than the yearly average of 5.4 percent.

Derige said inflation, along with the Covid-19 pandemic and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, are some reasons for employers laying off their workers.

He said that in Cebu Province alone, there are already about 6,800 workers retrenched in the Mactan Economic Zone (MEZ) as of October.

For the garment industry, if the number of buyers will not increase among the primary exporting countries, then it is feared that about 27,000 more workers will lose their work by next year, said Derige.

Derige acknowledged the help given by some government agencies, such as the Department of Social Welfare and Development, among others, to assist retrenched workers but he added that it was not enough.

Derige called on the government to come up with unemployment insurance of at least P10,000 per month and a wage subsidy equivalent to 75 percent of the retrenched worker’s salary for employees in micro, small and medium enterprises for at least 100 days.

“Dole (Department of Labor and Employment) already released a social protection floor, resulting in their consequent dialogues between labor sectors that these ideas are doable and would need at least P11 billion worth of funds,” said Derige.