DOLE develops HRD Plan to prepare sugarcane workers for AFTA 2015

Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday announced that the DOLE is developing a Human Resource Development Plan to increase the productivity and readiness of  workers  in the sugarcane industry for the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) in 2015.

The HRD Plan, Baldoz said, will focus on the labor aspect of the sugar industry in support of the Sugarcane Industry Roadmap of the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA).

“There is a need to capacitate our sugarcane workers to enhance their productivity and empower them so that they can meet the challenges and maximize the opportunities in the implementation of AFTA 2015,”  said Baldoz, adding that the DOLE will submit the Plan to national government agencies and the Sugar Tripartite Council in the second week of November.

Citing a report of Director Ahmma Charisma Satumba of the Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns (BWSC) which is spearheading the development of the plan, Baldoz said the HRD Plan is designed to create a productive and competitive workforce for the sugar industry.

“It will be directed towards the formulation of enabling policies, such as national competency standards, labor standards, safety and health, and  fair wages for the sugar industry.

Baldoz said the HRD Plan provides for  greater involvement of the District Tripartite Councils (DTCs), small planters, and sugar workers in policy- and decision-making; development and training of sugar workers through capacity-building, skills training, and promotion of proper work attitudes; and promotion and protection of livelihood and employment; and risk and hazards management.

“It will tap the support of the government and private sector, such as workers groups, local government units, business sector, non-government organizations, national government agencies, sugar producers, and the academe, all of whom need to act in concert to assist the sugar industry in coping with AFTA 2015,” said Baldoz.

Last month,  the DOLE, in coordination with local government units, workers groups, and other government agencies, conducted focused group discussions (FGD) with unorganized mill and field workers; agrarian reform beneficiaries; and small planters in 10 major sugar producing regions, specifically in Negros Occidental, Bukidnon, Batangas, Negros Oriental, Iloilo, Tarlac, Capiz, North Cotabato, Davao del Sur,  and Cebu.

The FGD will continue until September 14.

After the  FGD,  the DOLE, through the BWSC, shall conduct  district level consultations in 26 sugar mill districts, which will involve LGUs, NGOs, the business sector, and the SRA.

It will then hold a  two-day cluster planning sessions in the  respective Island Clusters in October. During the planning sessions, the  respective DTCs will present and consolidate regional plans into the National HRD Convergent Program.

The SRA had said that the tariff on imported sugar will be decreased to  five percent resulting  to greater competition for locally produced sugar upon the implementation of  Common Effective Preferential Tariff scheme under AFTA 2015.

It said that the CEPT scheme may imperil the livelihood of about 62,000 farmers and 600,000 workers in country’s  sugar industry, as the influx of imported sugar will apparently lower the millsite price of locally produced sugar.

“In order to keep pace with the competition, the government aims to increase the efficiency and competitiveness of the sugar industry. This can be done not only through an increase in production, but also through the enhancement of productivity and empowerment of sugarcane field workers, small sugarcane farmers, mill workers, and other workers in the sugar industry,” Baldoz said.

End/letmaring

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