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The job at hand

Countries like Taiwan that are slowly but surely welcoming back Filipino workers contribute much to alleviate the unemployment situation.

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Too often, we take for granted the work established in our hands. When income can be a challenge to find or sustain in this global health pandemic, this attitude cannot be part of the so-called new normal.

As long as we can work, let’s work. For most people, this is as essential as breathing. No work, no pay; no pay, no food.

The parameters of finding a job, keeping a job, and excelling in a job remain the same even during these unprecedented times.
Unfortunately, circumstances surrounding these goals have changed because of Covid-19.

For example, the average Filipino worker taking public transport had to contend with nearly impossible to find jeeps or buses to get to work at the start of the lockdown early on in the pandemic.

Tales of bike riders expiring from the effort to get to a place surfaced, as well as those of people getting “creative” (like crafting a vehicle out of a wheelchair) to reach important destinations like hospitals or clinics for a patient’s care and maintenance.

Public transport is a key necessity for a huge chunk of the Filipino population, so nowadays, if a commuter cannot be allowed in them without a vaccine card, then it is like going back to those early lockdown days when employees had to sacrifice a job for lack of a means to get to their place of work.

Not everyone owns a car or knows someone who can let them carpool. And while a good, long walk can be bracing and healthy, try it going to Makati from Novaliches, for example. And back. For five days.

In this pandemic, daily workers were the worst off, unable to earn because of restrictions imposed by the government — while necessary to stem a surge, these are more obstacles for those who lost a source of income.

Even some overseas Filipino workers (OFW) lost their jobs when Covid-19 led to massive repatriations.

In July last year, a report cited Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. describing the “repatriation of Filipinos from various countries, due to Covid-19, as the biggest in Philippine history.”

Some good news for Filipinos working in Taiwan, however: deployment of some 5,000 Taiwan-bound OFW may “resume very soon,” as announced by the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) on Wednesday.

A meeting between Taiwan’s Ministry of Labor (MoL) Minister Hsu Ming-Chun and MECO Chairman and Resident Representative Wilfredo B. Fernandez yielded such reassurance, as the latter has made it a mission to see to the welfare of OFW in Taiwan.

The MoL Minister “vowed a continuing review of Taiwan’s labor rules to protect migrant workers’ rights, including those of the Filipinos, and to promote policies that would improve not only relations but also other benefits,” a report in this paper goes.

Since May 2020, over 600,000 OFW displaced by Covid-19 had returned to the country.

The government through the Department of Labor and Employment has extended assistance by the billions on pesos in total. Yet while the pandemic certainly halted many aspects of human life and slowed down global economic movement, many migrant workers are eager to return to work as soon as possible.

Border restrictions, however, continue to keep deployment at bay. “Total OFW deployment dropped from 2.2 million in 2019 to 549,800 in 2020, contracting by 74.5 percent. This was a considerable departure from the average annual deployment growth rate of 4.6 percent (equivalent to some 1.9 million workers) from 2010 to 2019,” April 2021 data from the Senate states.

OFW, together with locally displaced workers, “accounted for the Philippines’ 4.5 million unemployed in 2020,” the report also said.

Countries like Taiwan that are slowly but surely welcoming back Filipino workers contribute much to alleviate the unemployment situation.

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