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More job creation programme needed in Yolanda-hit areas, says ILO

Publication Date : 09-02-2014


An estimated 5.9 million lost their jobs in the aftermath of the supertyphoon that hit central Philippines in November


The International Labor Organization has launched a programme aimed at providing emergency employment and sustainable livelihood opportunities in areas devastated by Supertyphoon Yolanda.

“Since ‘Yolanda’ (international name Haiyan) struck on 8 November, the ILO supported the Department of Labor and Employment in creating over 20,000 jobs under the emergency employment programme,” said Lawrence Jeff Johnson, Director of the ILO Country Office in the Philippines.

Johnson said that his organisation has reached out to 100,000 people during the initial phase of the rebuilding efforts in 2013.

“But more needs to be done to provide access to safe and decent work that includes ensuring minimum wages, sound occupational safety, skills development and social protection in line with national laws,” Johnson said.

Aside from guaranteed social security and health insurance, the ILO has equipped its workers with masks, hats, gloves, boots and long sleeved shirts to minimize the risk of disease and injury.

Of the estimated 5.9 million jobs lost or suspended due to Yolanda, the ILO estimated that 2.6 million were in vulnerable employment and living near the poverty line even before the typhoon.

Plea for decent jobs
Workers in vulnerable forms of employment, mostly drivers and operators in Tacloban, called for the prioritisation of decent jobs after Supertyphoon Yolanda nearly took out the sense of normalcy in the area.

“Many of our fellow drivers lost their livelihoods. Prior to the onslaught of Yolanda, they were already living in poverty. Wage alone is not enough to help workers cope,” said Judy Torres, a transport group leader in Tacloban.

Torres’ group called for decent work, which they believed is a guarantee for growth, long-term security and dignity.

Of all the workers affected by “Yolanda,” three million were from the service industry, which included people working in shops, public markets, restaurants, transport and schools.

Another 1.9 million are from the agriculture sector and one million from the industry sector.

The ILO’s emergency employment programmes provide displaced people to gain new skills like carpentry and masonry to rebuild houses and communities.

Another benefit of the programme is to keep the workers in their localities instead of migrating to other places in the country or even abroad where jobs would not meet decent work criteria.

“It’s about getting livelihoods to people who have lost everything and doing it the right way to ensure inclusive growth,” Johnson said.

Johnson added that their programmes are part of President Benigno Aquino III’s vision in his inaugural speech where migration is “an option and not a necessity.”

“We support the government for people to find jobs at home so that they will not be forced to leave their families behind or to accept whatever work is available just to survive.”


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