Baldoz says DOLE targets 391,200 informal sector workers for fast access to social protection under the DOLE-led convergence program

Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz said over the weekend that the DOLE, through its Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns (BWSC), has completed the profiling of 390,253 informal sector workers, or 99 percent, of its target of 391,200 informal sector workers who will be prioritized for access to social protection programs under the DOLE-led convergence program.

“These vulnerable workers from across all sectors–agriculture, forestry, fishery, services–are part of the estimated 15.3 million informal sector workers who are the backbone of the economy and who the government is reaching out to realize its goal of inclusive growth. They are the ones who must be capacitated in various ways, particularly through livelihood, so they can feel the country’s economic progress,” she said before a full-capacity crowd composed of home-based workers, small  transport  workers, non-corporate construction workers, vendors, and DOLE and other government officials who attended the Labor Day Celebration for Workers in the Informal Sector (WIS) at the Occupational Safety and Health Center (OSHC) in Quezon City.

But while Baldoz lauded the notable contribution of the WIS which comprise about 41 percent of the total labor force, 11 million of whom are self-employed and 4.3 million are unpaid family workers or members, she urged all convergence partners from the government and private sector to concretize their respective program of action to meet the needs of the sector based on their mandated programs and services.

“We just don’t want the numbers. We also want to see the faces of these workers because each of the 26 signatories to our convergence agreement last year has a deep and abiding commitment to bring these vulnerable workers within the confines of the economic prosperity the country is experiencing at the moment. Walang iwanan. That is what inclusive growth means,” Baldoz said.

She was referring to the National Convergence Program Towards the Establishment of  a  Social Protection Floor for Workers in the Informal Sector (WIS) which was signed during last  year’s Labor Day celebration, to address the issues and  concerns of the sector which include, among others, limited social insurance, labor  market intervention, and social safety nets.

She recalled that the DOLE has spent P23 million of its 2013 budget for the profiling of its target of informal sector workers who included sugar workers and parents of child laborers.

The profiling, conducted between January to April 2014, involved 951 enumerators and 93 field supervisors who did their work under the supervision of DOLE regional directors. The profiling, Baldoz said, would have covered 1.6 million vulnerable workers by 2016.

“The WIS are considered vulnerable workers because they do not have, or have very limited, protection from risks. Their vulnerability increases once we don’t know who they are, where they live, and what they are capable of doing to be productive contributor to our economy,” Baldoz remarked.

Baldoz emphasized that by having specific targets for the WIS on their respective programs and projects, the convergence partners will have a significant reach of their clients to enable them to partake of the country’s economic achievements.

“The government   is serious to sustain the 7.2 percent inclusive growth for all Filipino workers,” Baldoz remarked, as she urged the DOLE’s convergence partners to also make clear targets and make specific commitments for the benefit of their respective clients.

On the other hand, she challenged the informal sector to exert more efforts in organizing its ranks even as they continue to advocate for access to welfare and protection programs and services.

“Your sector is a formidable partner in achieving inclusive growth,” she said, ending her message with a quote from President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address: “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

END/Maybelle P. Frianeza

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