Message at the Pre-summit dialogue for workers on the National Employment Recovery Strategy (NERS)

By Mr Khalid Hassan, Director, ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the Pre-summit dialogue for workers on the National Employment Recovery Strategy (NERS), 22 April 2021, Manila, Philippines via Zoom

Statement | Manila, Philippines via Zoom | 22 April 2021
  • Secretary Bello of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE),
  • Secretary Lopez of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI),
  • Secretary Lapeña of Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA),
  • Senator Villanueva, Chair of the Chair of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment, and Human Resource Development,
  • Undersecretary Edillon of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA),
  • Assistant Secretary Tutay of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE),
  • Distinguished representatives of government, employers and business sectors,
  • Brothers and sisters representing workers organizations, trade unions, and labour sectors,
  • Partners from the United Nations agencies, World Bank and the Asian Development Bank,
  • Ladies and gentlemen
It is an honour and pleasure for the International Labour Organization to join you today for this Pre-Summit Dialogue to craft the Workers Agenda towards Employment Recovery.

The ILO has been tracking the impact of COVID-19 on the world of work since last year. The pandemic brought massive disruption of the economy and labour market in the Philippines, in the region and globally.

COVID-19 has exacerbated pre-existing inequalities and decent work deficits, and continues to have severe impact on enterprises and workers in hard-hit sectors and disproportionate impact on vulnerable groups such as women, youth, informal workers and migrant workers.

The latest ILO analysis on the impact on working hours, jobs and labour income highlights the scale of this challenge. While the current outlook may look dreary, the sectoral focus group discussions over the past two weeks have demonstrated clearly the collective spirit in the country.

With the strong demonstration of social dialogue and commitment to put employment recovery and decent work at the heart of the crisis response, the country can be a model for others in the region that are also struggling to get businesses and economies back on their feet.

The ILO together with the United Nations is committed to support national stakeholders in the development and implementation of the National Employment Recovery Strategy (NERS).

We are pleased that the National Employment Recovery Strategy and its Action Plan are strategically anchored on the ILO’s policy framework for responding to the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis, from stimulating the economy and employment, to supporting enterprises, jobs and incomes, to protecting workers in the workplace, and to relying on social dialogue for solutions.

Without inclusive and gender-responsive policy interventions, the recovery will continue to be uneven and subject to great uncertainties.

The policy focus therefore needs to be on a recovery that is robust and broad-based, addressing employment, income, workers’ rights and social dialogue. This means macroeconomic policy needs to remain accommodative with fiscal stimulus continuing in the near term, particularly income support measures to protect households, businesses and boost demand.

The devastating impact on hard-hit and vulnerable groups, notably young people, women, the low-paid and low-skilled workers, requires dedicated support for decent work opportunities.

In a rapidly changing world of work, the recovery strategy also needs to address the pre-crisis future of work trends, from technological change, demographic changes, environmental and climate change to globalization, which have also come to the fore during the COVID-19 crisis, for instance through increased digitalization.

In this regard, the ILO Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work provides us a framework for a human-centred approach. Economic, social and developmental futures will be affected, possibly for decades if we do not get the response right. If we are not able to rethink the future, then we will have lost the battle against the pandemic twice over.

To build a better future of work, it is crucial to invest in people’s capabilities, in decent and sustainable work and in the institutions of work that can help to push in the right direction towards a lasting, sustainable and inclusive recovery. One such push can and should be the focus on green recovery strategies that promote a just transition to a more inclusive and sustainable world of work.

As input to the National Employment Recovery Strategy and the Job Summit, the ILO has worked with government, workers and employers on the assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on the Philippines’ labour market as well as on how technological changes affect occupations and sectors.

The United Nations in the Philippines has also supported joint analysis on economic diversification focusing on opportunities for productive employment and on the current state of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

We have joined and listened to the labour groups in the various focused group discussions (FGDs) that have taken place before this Pre-Summit Dialogue.

Moving forward on the implementation of the NERS and its Action Plan, the ILO will support the labor sector agenda and work with government, employers’ and workers’ organizations in line with the Decent Work Country Programme (DWCP) of the Philippines.

Further, the United Nations will also contribute through the strategic areas of focus of the UN Socio-economic and Peace Framework (SEPF).
The SEPF recognizes the need to support job-rich recovery efforts, social dialogue and business continuity and people whose jobs and livelihoods are disrupted.
I look forward to our continued collaboration towards a human-centred employment recovery in the country, in support of the Philippine Development Plan, the Decent Work Country Programme of the Philippines, and the UN Socio-economic and Peacebuilding Framework.

Thank you and all the best!