The labor department has stepped up its efforts in addressing issues and challenges arising from the transition of the informal sector into the formal economy.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III during the Informal Sector Labor Day Celebration in Cebu City said the government is bent on providing the sector with an enabling atmosphere to be absorbed by the formal economy.

“The workers in the informal sector are indispensable to the society. While they have a significant portion in the national economy, they are not sufficiently covered by labor policies and standards such as occupational safety and health, and social protection,” Bello said.

In the Philippines, the informal sector constitutes a big portion of the country’s labor force with around 15 million workers, who are self-employed and unpaid family workers.

With means of ensuring workers’ protection under the laws, the labor department together with its social partners continues to enhance implementation of its livelihood programs and assistance, provision of employment opportunities, as well as the identifying measures that will address the root causes of informality among workers.

In partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the DOLE launched an initiative called Trabaho, Negosyo, Kabuhayan (TNK) where part of the key outputs are the Blueprint for Decent Employment and Entrepreneurship for 2017-2022 and the Livelihood Agenda 2017-2022.

The initiative aims to transform livelihood into competitive, resilient, and sustainable enterprises by encouraging the formalization and growth of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) through the full implementation of the GoNegosyo Law, the MSME Development Plan, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) 2015 Action Agenda to Globalize MSMEs.

The Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns (BWSC) implements the DOLE Integrated Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program (DILEEP) to reduce the vulnerability to risks of the poor, vulnerable, and marginalized workers.

On 2017, about 103,386 workers were provided with livelihood assistance which included Starter Kits or Negosyo sa Kariton (Nego-Kart), Enterprise Development Program, Workers Income Augmentation, and Youth Entrepreneurship Support.

Bello has also issued Department Order No. 173 or the revised guidelines in the implementation of the DILEEP.

Through the D.O., the maximum per capital assistance to beneficiaries was raised from P10,000 to P20,000. On top of that is the provision of sanitary tools and equipment for livelihood projects and the provision of micro-insurance to beneficiaries.

The Occupational Safety and Health Center (OSHC), an attached agency of the DOLE, also offers free OSH appreciation course to help ensure the safety and protection of informal sector workers, thus improving their productivity.

Moreover, to guarantee that workers from the informal sector are being represented at social dialogues, the Bureau of Labor Relations (BLR) has issued an advisory directing the reconstitution of the Regional Tripartite Industrial Peace Councils (RTIPCs) by including representations from the informal sector.

The said Informal Sector Labor Day Celebration was held in IEC3 Convention Center, Cebu City with the theme, “Manggagawa sa Impormal na Sektor: Pagkakaisa Tungo sa Patas at Makabuluhang Pagbabago”.

END/Abegail De Vega

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