MANILA, Philippines — The administration will hold a multisectoral summit at Malacañang today to help workers and employers cope with the impact of the global financial crisis.
Labor Secretary Marianito Roque said the summit, dubbed “Joining Hands Against the Global Crisis,” is part of the government’s efforts to minimize job losses and keep industries afloat despite the economic slump.
“The government is exhausting all means to preserve workers’ jobs as this would sustain demand, which is essential in enabling industries to cope with the crisis,” Roque said.
The multisectoral summit will be held at Malacañang’s Heroes Hall and will be attended by leaders of the business sector, labor groups, church, academe, and government and non-government organizations in the national effort to identify the necessary safety nets that would help vulnerable workers and industries weather the current economic downturn.
Roque said about 200 summit participants are expected to “join hands” to harmonize government and private sector responses to the needs of workers and industries that are affected by the crisis.
“The main objective of the summit is to enable industries to survive the crisis’ adverse effects by preserving existing jobs and also generating employment for workers who have already been displaced,” he pointed out.
Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said President Arroyo will lead the summit to address the concerns of many in the business and labor sectors on job security and economic growth.
He said the summit was also in response to the call of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines for “discernment on how we can give security to our workers whose jobs have been threatened by the global economic crisis.”
Mrs. Arroyo earlier directed the Department of Labor and Employment and the Department of Trade and Industry to organize the summit—a follow-up to the recent multi-sectoral conference of labor, management, and other stakeholders that tackled measures to mitigate the impact of the global crisis on local and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
Roque said the stakeholders are expected to sign a joint communiqué affirming their commitments to support programs intended for job preservation and generation and also the provision of safety nets to workers and industries affected by the economic crunch.
The communiqué to be presented to the President would boost the efforts to facilitate the reemployment and the provision of other forms of assistance to the displaced workers, Roque said.
Roque reported that the economic crisis has already resulted in the layoff of about 40,000 local workers and overseas Filipino workers as well as the closure of more than 500 factories.
He maintained that the impact of the economic crisis is still manageable.
As this developed, local recruitment agencies called on the government anew to immediately lift the ban on the deployment of OFWs to Iraq to provide more jobs for Filipinos during the crisis.
Recruitment leaders said the proposal to lift the deployment ban to Iraq, Lebanon and Nigeria would also help provide protection for the thousands of undocumented Filipinos now working in those countries.
“It is high time that the government accept the stark reality that despite the ban thousands of Filipinos continue to slip into Iraq and
Lebanon after the Philippine government imposed a ban,” they said.
They noted that documenting of the illegal OFWs in Iraq and Lebanon would allow the government to give the same protection afforded to documented workers. – Mayen Jaymalin with Paolo Romero, Philippine Star