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Pandemic worsened workers’ situation in Phl, says Palace

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The Palace on Tuesday blamed the coronavirus pandemic for the Philippines’ inclusion in an international group’s list of top 10 worst countries for workers.

Presidential spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque said the health crisis has impeded the improvements that should have been made for the situation of Filipino workers.

“We are saddened by the report, but we are sure that the state of our workers had been affected by the pandemic,” he said in a televised briefing.

Roque said the government remains optimistic that the situation for the country’s labor force would improve in the coming months with the arrival of an additional supply of anti-coronavirus vaccines.

“We believe that while many people are vaccinated and while we open the economy, the state of our workers would get better,” he said.

The Palace official was reacting to the annual report of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) which named the Philippines among the top 10 worst countries for working people due to alleged rights abuses — for the fifth straight year.

The labor group included the country in the list due to alleged killings, arrests, and rights violations committed against workers.

The Philippines joined Bangladesh, Brazil, Columbia, Egypt, Honduras, Turkey, and Zimbabwe.

Belarus and coup-hit Myanmar also entered the infamous list this year.

In a statement, ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow said the report showed that the pandemic has worsened abuses being experienced by employees.

“Governments and employers exploited the pandemic to exploit the people the world depends on by increasing surveillance, breaking agreements, laying off workers, blocking and intimidating unions, and resorting to violence and murder,” she said.

In the Philippines, joblessness reached a record-high 45.5 percent at the height of strict quarantine measures in July 2020, according to state statisticians.

The figure eased to 39.5 percent in September 2020, 27.3 percent in November 2020, and 25.8 percent in May 2021.

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