Job fair hirings trickle labor eyes wage hike

Posted on May 2, 2012

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WHILE government labor agencies held job fairs and talked about the employment picture, labor groups took to the streets and aired anew their demands for higher wages and job security in yesterday’s annual Labor Day observance.

About 178 job seekers were hired on the spot out of 5,900 registered applicants in four areas of job fairs in Central Visayas or around 3 percent of the total applicants as of 3 p.m. yesterday.

Hundreds of laborers join the march rally from the ALU compound to the City Hall grounds and back as they celebrate Labor Day. (CDN PHOTO/ JUNJIE MENDOZA)

In Cebu City’s streets, both militant and moderate labor groups staged march rallies to ventilate their demand for a new wage increase ahead of the one year period for approving wage increases under the law.

Regional Director Ma. Gloria Tango of the Department of Labor and Employment in Central Visayas (DOLE-7) said there were 25,000 available jobs but only 5,900 applicants for the openings.

She said they expect the initial numbers of hired applicants to rise once they complete gathering of data from the four venues of the job fairs in the region.

In Cebu, the job fairs were held in the Cebu City Sports Center/Abellana grounds for overseas, SM Cebu and the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) for local employment.

A one-year old follows her father Randy Casas standing in a long queue of job seekers at the Cebu International Convention Center awaiting for an interview during the local job fair. (CDN PHOTO/ TONEE DESPOJO)

Job fairs were also held in all SM and Robinsons Place centers in the cities of Cebu and Dumaguete for local and overseas employment.

In SM Cebu, PR manager RJ Leduna said 45 applicants were hired on the spot as of 3:15 p.m.

Leduna said 42 companies joined the job fair and around 2,000 applicants were recorded.

Tango said most of the available jobs were for services or jobs in the malls. There were also jobs for call centers.

“Maybe they got tired. But after collating all the data, we will make an evaluation to find out why there were fewer applicants compared to the number of available jobs,” Tango said.

Tango said the total unemployment rate in Central Visayas was at 7.5 percent or about 223,000 jobless persons as of January this year.

She said this was lower than the January 2011 unemployment rate of 8.2 percent.

The Technical Skills Education Development Authority in Central Visayas (TESDA-7) said one reason for the high unemployment rate is the mismatch between job openings and the skill set of graduates who finished different courses.

Arturo Barrit, Tesda-7’s officer in charge of the Workers Training Center, said they encourage students to take up technical and vocational courses since these are “more in demand now” in the domestic and overseas market.

“The thing is, how to fill the gaps of the growing graduates with four-year course who fall on the wrong job because they don’t have the right skills,” said Barrit.

Tesda approved last month the accreditation of the Associated Labor Union–Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) Worker’s Training Center Foundation Inc., which opens today for applicants age 18 to 55 years old.

Elsewhere about 5,000 workers from 21 labor groups marched towards the DOLE-7 office in front of the Plaza Independencia in Cebu City to demand a new wage increase at past 8 a.m. yesterday.

The labor coalition called Nagkaisa (Unity) also called for a halt on labor contractualization and child labor.

Ferdinand Jumapao, ALU-TUCP acting area vice president for Central Visayas, said they hope a wage hike is approved this month.

Cebu Archdiocese media liaison officer Msgr. Achilles Dakay, who officiated the Mass sponsored by ALU TUCP at the ALU’s St Joseph the Workers Chapel, urged government to consider the plight of the workers in approving any wage hike.

For their part the militant group Bayan questioned the Aquino administration’s economic policies, saying it doesn’t generate adequate jobs and promote national industrialization.

“The export companies in the Mactan Export Processing Zone are just buying their materials outside the country and assemble and repack it here to save on labor expenses and taxes,” said Bayan leader Jaime Paglinawan in Cebuano.

He said a P125 across-the-board national wage increase should be approved not by the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) but by Congress.

The Cebu City police said yesterday’s march rallies, which began at Osmeña Boulevard and ended at Colon Street, were relatively peaceful.

They were augmented by Central Command (Centcom) troops. /Jhunnex Napallacan and Tweeny M. Malinao, Correspondents with reporter Rhea Ruth V. Rosell and correspondent Chito Aragon

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