Policy reversal needed to revive ailing RP economy, says labor leader

THE labor group, Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), yesterday said the economic crisis must be transformed into an opportunity for reconstruction by making policy changes.

“An economic resurrection can come about through a policy reversal and paradigm shift in the national development model,” asserted Greg Janginon, chairperson of PM in Cebu.

“The policies of liberalization, deregulation, and privatization must be stopped,” said Janginon adding, “the local economy must be developed by strengthening industry and modernizing agriculture based on agrarian reform.”

He added: “Since the beginning of the global crisis, it has always been ‘Black Friday’ for workers. It has been like Calvary for workers who have lost their jobs and have sustained pay cuts due to reduced work days and compressed workweeks.”

As examples of the policy changes, the group cited the repeal of the Epira (Electric Power Industry Reform Act), Oil Deregulation Law and VAT.

He explained: “Such reversals in policy will rollback the price increases that came about because of privatization and deregulation of basic services. Also tariff protection and quota restrictions must be imposed on foreign goods that compete with locally-produced products and services.”

He also mentioned the review and revocation of unequal trade agreements such as the multilateral GATT-WTO and bilateral ones like Jpepa and the proposed EU-Asean Free Trade Agreement.

Janginon insisted: “These so-called trade agreements have favored multinational corporations to thee detriment of workers, farmers and local business.”

The labor group also called on workers to challenge the government’s promises of assistance for the displaced.

“The unemployment insurance proposal has been talked for weeks already. Workers cannot survive on news stories. It is high time that it be implemented. Workers should claim these benefits and protection through protest and struggle,” argued Janginon.

For Labor Day, PM is demanding a bailout package for workers. The bailout includes subsidy for displaced workers from the SSS, GSIS and OWWA; tax refund for all wage earners; expansion and reform of the public employment program; extension of health care coverage for displaced workers; and moratorium on demolitions and evictions.

Janginon clarified that “bailing out the workers is just the first step. Reversing the policies that brought about the crisis itself is the next. But the ultimate solution is to replace moribund capitalism with a new society whose organizing principle is not prioritizing corporate profit but meeting people’s needs.”

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