The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines has urged the government to step up training of Filipino construction workers and increase their pay to stop foreign workers from taking the jobs.
At the same time, TUCP president Raymond Mendoza, who made the call amid the rise in foreign workers working in both private and public construction projects within the country, bashed Special Envoy to China Ramon Tulfo for saying Filipino workers were lazy and “slowpokes.”
.“Mr. Tulfo should have known these better than any of us because he was newspaperman all his life and he witnessed how workers highly contributed to the welfare of our country.”
“These statements are uncalled for, unpatriotic and acts of betrayal to his countrymen particularly to Filipino workers who built and continues to build our economy and the economies of other countries whether they work here or abroad,” Mendoza added.
Mendoza said the Filipino workers are known for their hard work and efficiency globally.
The labor group also observed that Filipino construction workers are being treated poorly, with meager salaries, inadequate social protection benefits, unsafe and unhealthy working places and dirty resting and living areas.
“Due to this low dignity, they opt to work abroad,” Mendoza said.
He said the government’s National Wages and Productivity Commission must exercise its mandate by conducting an immediate time-and-motion study on construction work to determine the need to raise salaries rate based on the labor-intensive construction job.
The TUCP also called on the Technical Education Skills Development Authority to work double time in conducting training and providing certification to workers in work sites even on Saturdays and Sundays.
There is also a need for the Department of Labor and Employment to re-examine the efficiency of government policy on labor-market test method in granting employment permits to foreign workers.
“Government must respond right away. It is high time to raise the salary and benefits of construction workers to keep them from working abroad. At the same time we have to modernize and certify more workers with multi-skills so that they can be qualified across the entire duration of the building project,” Mendoza said.
Citing government data, Mendoza said there are about four-million Filipino construction workers in the country but only about a million of them are certified and multi-skilled.
“And if they are already certified and gained enough work experience, workers prefer to work abroad because of higher salary, attractive benefits, and safer working conditions,” Mendoza said.
“Filipinos are skilled and possessed innate craftsmanship but are not certified to do the work but due to poor access to training and certification, so government institutions must step in and step up to minimize [the] influx of foreign workers,” Mendoza said.
“Filipino workers are not what Special Envoy Ramon Tulfo has said. World history, many governments, and countless private contractors and project owners are testifying that Filipino workers are world class working people,” Mendoza said.
“They are the most sought after type of workers compared to other nationalities because of their high quality of doing their work and because of their ingenuity, diligence, creativity and hard work they put into every task they are into,” Mendoza added.
Earlier, Tulfo said Filipino workers are not effective compared with the well-disciplined Chinese workers.
He said the influx of foreign workers in the country was due to employers’ preference.
Under fire, Tulfo refused to apologize, saying he was only telling the truth about Filipino workers.