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On Teachers Day, safety groups pushes for Decent Work for All

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As the world celebrates Teachers Day, the occupational health and safety group Institute for Occupational Health and Safety Development (IOHSAD) reminds the government of the necessity of providing Decent Work for All, as the world counts down to October 7, World Day for Decent Work.

“Most of our teachers are bearing the burdern of being overworked and underpaid,” said Noel Colina, Executive Director of IOHSAD. “Our educators are exposed to heavy teaching loads due to large number of students per class. The lack of resources provided to educators are forcing them to dig in their pockets to come up with money to purchase chalk and other teaching materials. This is clearly not part of Decent Work.”

Decent work as stated by the International Labor Organization (ILO) “involves opportunities for work that is productive and delivers a fair income, security in the workplace and social protection for families, better prospects for personal development and social integration, freedom for people to express their concerns, organize and participate in the decisions that affect their lives and equality of opportunity and treatment for all women and men.”

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Colina also raised the danger faced by teachers who serve as election officers. “Countless election have placed the lives and limbs of our teachers in danger and some have already sacrificed their lives. Come May next year, teachers will again be caught between feuds of politicians and faced the wrath of the Election 3G: Goons, Guns and Gold.”

The group also went to the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) today to press for Decent Work for All. “This coming October 7, we join the rest of the world in celebrating World Day for Decent Work. Millions of workers across the globe will push for the need for decent work amid economic crisis and austerity programs of governments, underscoring the necessity of creating decent work for the youth.”

The group raised their concern of growing underemployment, informal work arrangements and unsafe workplaces in the Philippines as an affront to decent work. “Last July 2012, underemployment rates have grown to 22.7% of the total 37.6M labor force. In the 2011 report of the ILO, 67.7% of the total employed in 2008 in the country where under informal work arrangements. This are clearly red flags signalling a deterioration of the quality of jobs,” stated Colina.

Workplaces remain as the main killer of workers. According to the ILOw more than 2 million workers across the globe die annually because of work. “This clearly shows the urgency of improving safety in the workplace to save the lives of our bread-winners. More than three decades have past since 1981, but the Philippine government has yet to sign the ILO Occupational Safety and Health Convention or ILO C155. TO save the lives of our workers, it is imperative the government becomes part of this convention,” continued Colina.

According to IOHSAD, the situation is further aggravated by informal work arrangements. Last August 30, 2012, 4 workers died while doing a job in Ali Mall. According to police and media reports, no safety devices and other personal protective equipment were present when the accident occurred.

“Noteworthy in the ILO C155 is Article 19 (f), wherein 'a worker reports forthwith to his immediate supervisor any situation which he has reasonable justification to believe presents an imminent and serious danger to his life or health; until the employer has taken remedial action, if necessary, the employer cannot require workers to return to a work situation where there is continuing imminent and serious danger to life or health'. With this provision, workers – under regular and informal work arrangements – can refuse unsafe work which will save lives. At present, refusal to do dangerous work can get one fired,” ended Colina.