Monday, March 20, 2006

Skilled Filipino workers of the world unite!

Government is thinking of employing coercive means to restrict OFW’s freedom to work abroad. Please read the rest of the post.

It seems the Government is really bent on restricting skilled overseas Filipino workers’ freedom to work abroad. Yesterday, Representative Roseller Barinaga (Second District, Zamboanga de Norte) suggested in an employment summit that government should employ coercive means like putting a “moratorium” or ban on the deployment of skilled workers pursuant to Republic Act 8042 in a bid to address “domestic labor shortages” in the mining and aviation industries during an employment summit last week. A few weeks ago, the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency has revealed government plans to restrict deployment of nurses and teachers.

My view is that it’s not in the best interest of the country to restrict people’s choices in life unless the country is experiencing a real crisis like war. Putting a moratorium on deployment of skilled workers violate the people’s right to travel, to seek employment, and pursue his or her own happiness. In this day and age, government and industry managers should stop thinking as if workers are slaves whose work, lives, and souls they control. People have choices and the State or business leaders should learn to respect that fact. After all, real development is really all about expanding people’s choices.

Restricting people’s job choices is not an effective way to produce more skilled workers for both the airline and the mining industries. That approach will only drive skilled workers away to foreign shores. The best way to keep skilled people here in the country is for the local industry to apply economic incentives, including better employment package. You want their skills? You treat them with respect by giving them better pay!

Allowing the free interaction of labor supply and demand is the better way to develop more skilled workers. Allowing local wages to rise in important skills will encourage a lot of smart kids from all over the country to take up these professions. Coupled with private sector initiatives like the setting up centers of excellence in certain skills like airline maintenance, geodetic, and mining engineering, nursing, and education, the Philippines could actually emerge as major supplier of these skills all over the world while satisfying our own local requirements. All we need to do is shift our mindset away from destructive protectionism that has been hobbling the country’s capability for economic development.

Airline or mining companies will probably say that they can’t match what is offered abroad. That’s baloney. Last Friday, Professor Eduardo Morato from the Asian Institute of Management has disclosed that local airlines are now sending their planes for servicing and maintenance to companies abroad that are manned by Filipinos mechanics and engineers. Morato said local airlines could have saved a lot more by keeping those Filipino airplane mechanics by paying them comparable salaries back home. Skilled mechanics, Morato said, leave the country because local airlines are not good at managing their workers and treating them with respect.

The coercive measure the government is contemplating vis-à-vis the mining and the airline industry should alarm the Filipino working class in this country. Once in place, the same coercive measure could extend to other industries until most Filipinos are no longer free to choose their place of work. Besides, mining and aviation, the government has also been contemplating about restricting overseas placement of teachers and nurses. Whom are they going to go after next?

The world is fast globalizing and countries in the Asia-Pacific Region are growing at dizzying speeds. These countries are going to need lots of skilled workers from the Philippines. It’s obvious that the State and its cronies are going to ban the deployment of accountants, crane operators, bank managers, MBA graduates, lawyers, surveyors, civil engineers, information technology experts, human resource managers, among many others soon. The State will restrict their deployment until one day Filipinos will wake up knowing they could not longer leave the country because some bureaucrats and political cronies thought their quasi-slavery is necessary for “national security” and “public welfare.”

These coercive measures will only hurt Filipinos even more as people who have skills may resort to illegal means to go around the labor export ban or moratorium. The difficulties to seek employment abroad may also force skilled workers who are already abroad not to return home for fear of not being able to get back to their overseas jobs. That also could mean they are going to keep their dollars abroad so they have something for themselves once they retire in foreign shores. This will certainly have devastating impact of the local economy. Restrictions on job mobility would also mean lack of market signals for the skills that the country needs, thus perpetuating the current trend of so many people with college degrees who could not find work because of job-skills mismatch.

Related posts

Government contemplates restrictions on overseas deployment of workers from "critical industries"

Don’t blame the nurses for the “medical crisis”

4 comments:

taoharu said...

I agree with you 100%. The people should not be treated like slaves. The State should serve the people and promote people's welfare. Yes, what they're doing is exploitation -- they just call it 'national interest.' That proposition to restrict is anti-People of the Philippines. It is anti-country.

Without Borders said...

taoharu: thanks for that comment. we share the same sentiments there. thanks.

Without Borders said...

the act of pressuring the government to restrict people's work mobility so they would have cheap surplus labor and ensure a fat bottomline is another example of rent-seeking behavior among our "capitalists." while the rest of the capitalist world are generating wealth from innovation and entrepreneurship, most of our "capitalists" here would rather opt for extra-economic means to fatten their bottomlines. that's one primary reason why capitalism in this country has not been a real force for development. capitalism in this country behaves more like feudalism of the middle ages.

taoharu said...

Yes, the problem of the Philippine Economy is structural.