Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz reminded DOLE partners and stakeholders, including DOLE officials and workers, that occupational safety and health is essential not just for formal sector workers, but more so for workers in the informal economy (WIE).
“Workers in the informal economy contribute to the country in many ways. They provide opportunities for short-term employment, especially for workers displaced by economic crisis or calamities, hence, occupational safety and health is important to them and to all of us,” Baldoz said in her remarks read by Undersecretary Ciriaco Lagunzad III at the 2015 Labor Day celebration for WIEs held the other day at the Occupational Safety and Health Center in Quezon City.
“These contributions include employment generation and remunerative income for many Filipino workers,” Baldoz added.
The celebration, with the theme, Aming Kasanayan, Tungo sa Disenteng Kabuhayan, gave credit to President Benigno S. Aquino III’s 22-point labor and employment agenda to promote inclusive growth for all Filipino workers by providing them decent jobs, as well as productive employment opportunities and compliance to labor standards and occupational safety and health.
Based on the January 2015 Labor Force Survey of the Philippine Statistics Authority, workers in the informal economy makes up 39.1 percent, or 14.5 million, of the total employed persons, and are categorized as mostly self-employed and unpaid family workers. They work in various industries like agriculture, forestry, fishing, and services sector.
“Sa pamamagitan ng ipinatutupad nating enhanced social protection operational framework and strategy, nakatitiyak kayo na mas mapapaigting pa ng pamahalaan ang mga programa at serbisyo na hindi lamang magpapalawak sa kakayahan, kundi magbibigay rin ng seguridad; magpapabuti sa kondisyon sa paggawa; at tutugon sa iba pang pangangailangan ng mga manggagawa sa inyong sektor,” Baldoz said in Filipino.
Occupational safety and health underpins the strategy in ensuring the welfare and promoting the protection of workers in the informal economy, according to Baldoz, and said the Occupational Safety and Health (OSHC) and the Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns (BWSC) are the main DOLE agencies pushing for various programs and services for the welfare of these workers.
The DOLE, she said, has launched partnerships with the private sector to ensure the protection of informal sector workers, or workers in the vulnerable sector.
Among these partnerships are those with the Philippine Commission on Women; Association of Construction and Informal Workers (ACIW); and Pambansang Tagapag-ugnay ng mga Manggagawa sa Bahay (PATAMABA).
“To these organizations, I would like to thank them for helping the DOLE and its agencies and bureaus to deliver occupational safety and health services to the informal sector,” said Baldoz, who also cited the OSHC’s free 40-hour Construction Safety Training for small-scale companies and the Basic Occupational Safety and Health Training.
“These are mandatory training for safety officers which the DOLE pushes hard to assure zero work-related accidents in the workplace. Our goal is widen the reach of this service to the country’s far-flung, rural areas,” she explained. She bared that in 2015, over 800 workers in the informal economy benefited from these training.
“I am proud of our strategies to ensure safety and health in the workplace. Other countries, such as Nepal, admire our safety and health practices that they desire to replicate and apply these in their own,” Baldoz said.
During the celebration, the DOLE, through the TESDA, awarded P500 cash vouchers to more than 200 WIEs beneficiaries who will use the vouchers to for Competency Assessment and Certification for their skills, such as computer technician, electrical and installation maintenance, carpentry, painting, scaffolding, plumbing, and masonry—skills that Baldoz noted require the practice of safety and health in the workplace.