"The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is targeting 391, 200 vulnerable workers attain inclusive growth this year through facilitation of social insurance and provision of labor market intervention and social safety nets," Labor Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz announced recently during the Labor Day Celebration for Workers in the Informal Sector (WIS) at the Occupational Safety and Health Center (OSHC) in Quezon City.
Baldoz lauded the notable contribution of the WIS which comprises about 41 percent of the total working force or an estimate of 15.3 million Filipino workers – of this number, 11 million are self-employed while 4.3 million are unpaid family workers or members of the family helping in economic activities without remuneration. These workers are found in agriculture, forestry, fishing, service and trade, among others.
"The WIS are considered as vulnerable workers because they do not have or limited protection from risks," Baldoz remarked.
Given this situation, government agencies and the private sector took efforts to uplift the working and living conditions of the WIS as well as reduce their vulnerability.
During last year's celebration of the WIS, a memorandum of agreement launched the National Convergence Program towards the Establishment of a Social Protection Floor for the WIS to address the issues and concerns of the sector which include among others, limited social insurance, labor market intervention and social safety nets.
Baldoz mentioned to the 300 participants coming from the home-based workers, small transport workers, non-corporate construction workers, vendors, and other WIS sub-sectors that given the significant number of the sector to the country's economy, the DOLE wanted to put a face and exact number of the sector.
She said that a profiling of 391, 200 vulnerable workers has been conducted by all the DOLE regional offices from January to April this year.
"I am happy to note that 99% of this target has been achieved wherein we hired 951 enumerators and 93 field supervisors," Baldoz remarked. "The profiling would not end this year as I expect that 1.6 million vulnerable workers which includes child laborers, the WIS and sugar farm workers would be profiled by 2016," she added.
She challenged the other government agencies in the National Convergence Program towards the Establishment of Social Protection Floor to have specific targets for the WIS on their respective programs and projects.
Baldoz emphasized that by having specific number, all government resources would have significant reach to the sector for them to achieve inclusive growth.
Meanwhile, she challenged the sector that as it continues to advocate for access to welfare and protection services, the sector should exert more effort in organizing their ranks.
"The government is serious to sustain the 7.2% inclusive growth for all Filipino workers," Baldoz remarked.
"Your sector is a formidable partner in achieving this." Baldoz ended her speech quoting President John F. Kennedy's inaugural address, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."