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Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations
My delegation is pleased to see you chair this session of the Commission. We are confident that you and your bureau will ably guide our deliberations towards an outcome that will not only reflect our commitment to the goals of this meeting, but will also continue to inspire us to regularly make self-assessments on where we are and what we could do more to strengthen our efforts for the development of our respective constituencies.
The priority that my government has placed on full and productive employment and decent work cannot be better demonstrated than by the primacy that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has given to the provision of jobs in her ten-point development agenda. In her 10-point path, the government has made a pledge to create six to ten million jobs by promoting and supporting small enterprise development, as well as by strengthening agricultural business. In the past seven years, the government has already created seven million jobs, one of the key factors for the 7.1 per cent growth of the economy in the first three quarters of 2007.
While our economy is booming, we continue to work towards narrowing down the gap in incomes. Our latest statistics show that the country’s unemployment rate has gone down from 7.3 per cent in October 2006 to 6.3 per cent in October 2007 despite the increase in the price of crude oil in the world market. This is made possible by a confluence of improved efforts in policy design and implementation, in both the macroeconomic and social fields. For example, balancing the national budget via fiscal policy reforms, as well as enhancing the efficiency of all government bodies, have generated funds to support agriculture and rural development, thus increasing jobs and improving the standard of living. This is also an illustration of the government’s strategy to pursue economic growth that is coherent with social development.
Indeed, globalization changes the nature of work and employment all over the world. It brings about new challenges, not only in relation to the adaptation of jobs required by the globalization of business and the changing demographics and needs of societies, but also in relation to the maintenance of the welfare of workers and jobseekers themselves.
For example, the globalization of employment means that more non-nationals are involved, both in formal and non-formal work situations. As businesses and jobs get more competitive, there is a natural tendency to reduce costs, which includes searching for the lowest cost of labor possible. In this connection, countries must ensure that they avoid a race to the bottom that undercuts the standards of worker protection. Unfortunately, ensuring the best welfare of workers is normally not a priority for many employers and industries. Therefore, there should be a conscious and positive effort led by government to uphold the rights of all workers, in formal and non-formal settings, as well as to improve workers’ productivity and work values, work conditions and occupational safety and health, including psychosocial health, with due consideration given to gender-related issues. The international standards agreed at the UN and the ILO serve as guidelines that States should follow and implement in their jurisdictions.
Another challenge to employment that is currently experienced by the Philippines is harnessing the strategic role of the private sector in employment generation activities, particularly through livelihood and entrepreneurship programs, including for returning overseas workers and their families. We also need to integrate workplace family welfare programs that promote health, nutrition, responsible parenthood and a balanced family and work life.
Since the youth comprise a significant demographic segment of society, the issues of youth unemployment have to be effectively addressed. In this area, the provision of training, apprenticeship programs, special programs for the employment of deserving students, and emergency employment for out-of-school youth must be given more attention.
Another challenge arising from globalization is the job displacement due to shifts and adjustments in industries and enterprises. Rightsizing, import competition, the introduction of technological change and labor-saving devices and other economic reasons directly or indirectly caused by trade liberalization have brought about job displacement. Workers caught in between these shifts need to be given adequate social protection and support in order to enable them to overcome the impact of displacement and smoothly transition to other jobs. Recently, the Philippine Department of Labor has strengthened and made more accessible an Adjustment Measures Program which is geared towards the prevention of job losses and providing assistance to displaced workers. This program is implemented in tandem with increased vocational training in order to enhance the employability and entrepreneurial skills of Filipino workers.
This social protection package, along with other safety net measures, form part of the government’s anti-poverty thrust. In the interest of widespread development, this social protection is now being targeted to needy sectors of our society – the self-employed urban workers, rural workers, women and youth, indigenous people and persons with disabilities.
The theme of full and productive employment and decent work for all is at the heart of ensuring genuine development for all, because jobs and livelihood empower people, especially the poor, to uplift their conditions. Indeed, my delegation believes that, in order to spread the benefits of development, we need to focus on the more marginalized sectors of society. In this regard, we welcome the intention by the Group of 77 and China to table a resolution that places a focus on mainstreaming disability in development. The current theme of the session is indeed an opportune time to spotlight the continuing lack of access of about ten percent of the world’s population to equal opportunities for work and at work. My delegation is delighted that the Commission has put this specific issue on its agenda.
Effectively addressing the challenges to full and productive employment and decent work cannot be accomplished by any government or international organization alone. It requires innovative strategies of reinforcing international partnerships, including between the UN, the ILO, governments and the donor community. We hope that these actors will be engaged in stronger exchange and cooperation to ensure that international and national strategies are consistent with efforts to pursue the MDGs.
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