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2. The Labor Landscape

The country has an abundant supply of labor comprising more than a third of the entire Filipino population of 70 million. About 30 million constitutes the labor force but almost 3 million individuals are jobless. The service sector shares with agriculture the bulk of employment as both now employ 41% of the labor force. The industrial sector continues to stagnate at 16% of the total jobs available. The public sector employs 1.3 million workers. Estimates place the number of informal sector workers at 15 million while at least 3.7 million children now work for a living.

The main feature of labor relations system is enterprise unionism. Thus the main preoccupation of the trade unions is to represent the workers at the firm-level collective bargaining. Enterprise unionism system pushes the unions to compete every five years at the firm level, thus occupying substantial time and resources in the firm-level competitions. Union-raiding then becomes the primary cause of disunity.

With such system coupled with ideological and personal competitions, there are now nine (9) national centers, one hundred fifty two (152) federations and national unions, and seven thousand seven hundred sixty eight (7,768) registered unions (firm level, federations and national centers). Their estimated union membership is placed at 3.587 million workers (private sector: 3.452 million/public sector: 135,000). However, the 7,956 registered collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) covered 720,000 workers only.

Labor Centers

Public Sector Federations

  1. Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL)

  2. Center for Labor and Multisectoral Organizations (CLAMOR)

  3. Federation of Free Worker (FFW)

  4. Katipunan ng Manggagawa (KATIPUNAN)

  5. Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU)

  6. Lakas Manggagawa Labor Center (LMLC)

  7. National Confederation of Labor in the Philippines (NCLP)

  8. Pinag-isang Diwa ng Manggagawang Pilipino (PDMP)

  9. Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP)

  1. Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT)

  2. Alliance of Health Workers (AHW)

  3. Confederation of Independent Unions in the Public Sector (CIU)

  4. Confederation of Government Employees Organizations (COGEO)

  5. Confederation for Unity Advancement and Recognition of Government Employees (COURAGE)

  6. Philippine Government Employees Association (PGEA)

  7. Philippine Public School Teachers Association (PPSTA)

  8. Public Sector Labor Integrative Center (PSLINK)

The labor market has its own share of the feminization phenomenon. The entry of female labor force en masse started in the 70s as a result of the export-oriented economic development policy that employed young women in industries like garments and textiles, food processing, and electronics.

Women workers presently comprise almost 40% of the labor force. A hefty increase of women

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entrants to the labor force was notable in the past 5 years. Data from National Statistic Office (NSO) show that the annual growth rate of female in employment has been increasing at 4.4% between the period 1989–1992 and has even peaked at 9.97% in 1993. The whole year of 1995 saw the entrance of more women (7.2%) compared to men (4.2%). However, they incur higher unemployment incidence than the males (+2.3% for women and –3.53% for men).

The transformation of the country into a service economy further bolsters the feminization of the labor market. The service sector has dislodged agriculture as the main employer. This means that more and more women are being tapped for the "social skills" requirements of this industry. In sales work alone, 68.9% of the workers are women while in the wholesale and retail trade women accounts for 66.3%.

Globalization has also spawned more women into both the intricate international network of modern manufacturing and the highly exploitative subcontracting. The country’s export processing zones and other economic enclaves have employed more women for their dexterity and skills in handling electronic products including microchips. Of the nearly 200,000 workers in the export processing zones 1995 figures showed that about 75% are women. This holds true even in the informal sector that forms part of a complex web of subcontracting arrangements for garments and other apparels. Homeworkers, mostly women, and young children are now sucked in this multilevel system that caters to the need for "efficiency" and "global competitiveness".

The labor jurisprudence has several landmark laws that catered to women’s issues. One is the Republic Act 6725 which prohibits discrimination against women in employment, promotion and training opportunities. Article 135 of the Labor Code of the Philippines defines lesser compensation, including wage, salary or other form of remuneration and fringe benefits, to a female employee as against a male employee, for work of equal value as an act of discrimination. It also includes favoring a male employee over a female employee with respect to promotion, training opportunities, study and scholarship grants solely on account of their sexes. Article 136, on the other hand, discusses stipulation against marriage. The 1995 law on anti-sexual harassment is another notable piece of legislation. Despite these formally recognized rights, women still face issues of discrimination in the workplaces. Let us take a closer look.

© Friedrich Ebert Stiftung | technical support | net edition fes-library | Oktober 2001

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