By Associated Labor Unions
February 15, 2019
QUEZON CITY – Treated poorly with low pay, meager benefits, unsafe and unhealthy working conditions, poor access to certification are some of the reasons why the country is having shortage of Filipino construction workers amid a great number of potential construction manpower, said the labor group Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP).
President Duterte the other day said there is delay in government’s P8 Trillion government’s Build, Build, Build infrastructure program from 2017 to 2022 due to shortage of construction workers.
“We are currently experiencing “skill and brain drain” phenomenon because of this bad treatment of our construction workers. The nation is losing fast its vast and excellent reserves of construction manpower to higher pay and attractive benefits offered by companies abroad,” said TUCP President Raymond Mendoza.
Based on different government statistics, the TUCP estimates there are 3 million construction workers nationwide and only around 1 million of them are certified.
“It’s true that we have shortage of construction workers. Though we have plenty of certified, skilled and world class construction workers but due to meager salary, poor benefits, unsafe and unhealthy working conditions and lowly regarded workers they prefer to work abroad after a few months of training and actual field experience here because they are dignified there, they are given higher salary and benefits there, and are given free decent housing and paid vacation,” said TUCP President Raymond Mendoza.
Mendoza said the government’s expensive, inadequate training facilities and access to certification programs for construction jobs also contributes to shortage of workers in the industry.
“We have a vast pool of highly, multi-skilled and fine craftsmen but also because of lack of training facilities and poor access to certification programs we do not tap them to become potentials for the country’s build, build, build programs. Many of them even have to pay, fall in long line and travel far just to access national certification,” Mendoza.
The TUCP is also proposing to raise the minimum wage for construction workers from the current minimum of P500 a day to a minimum P800 a day, improve their benefits, and raise their working and resting living standards.
“Construction workers even purchase their own personal protective equipment used in working, buy their own drinking water, pay for their food intake during work break to replenish strength, and given a dirty and bad sleeping quarters during the whole duration of the construction project,” Mendoza.
Project owners and contractors also try to improve their profits by cutting costs on safety equipment devices and protocols causing workplace accident deaths, diseases and injuries.
“There seems to be no pride and no dignity being a construction worker nowadays. But President Duterte’s Build, Build, build program is an opportunity to address that and raise the dignity of our construction working people through a functioning and sustained government policy,” Mendoza added.