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Monday, July 21, 2008

Help Your Marginalized Workers

The web-based dictionary defines marginalize as "To relegate or confine to a lower or outer limit or edge, as of social standing." More than 50% of the Philippine labor force can be considered as marginalized. They are the laborers, unskilled workers, plant and machine operators, farm workers, sales clerks and others who are paid the minimum salary if not less. A lot of them are employed by some of the biggest and most profitable organizations.

They are the worst hit by the spiraling prices of basic commodities that drive them to desperation. It is sad to see that they wallow in the muck of poverty as the companies and people they work for are listed among the most profitable companies and richest individuals in the country.

These companies should share more as they take more in terms of profit in order to stop the widening divide between the rich and the poor in our country.

Here are my recommendations:

Give them more benefits
Group insurance, HMO's, diminimis benefits, etc. These are the staple benefits given to highly skilled workers and managerial employees. Some companies hire contractual employees or hire them through agencies to avoid these. Extending these benefits to the workers will lessen their worries, improve their health and hence their productivity.

Give them performance based incentives
If the company is hitting its profitability targets it should give a good enough portion of its profit back to its workers. Question is, are managers willing to sacrifice their profitability record for the sake of their workers? In a world of business that has been reduced to a numbers' game, I wonder how many companies are willing to report decreased profit because they happily shared a good sum of it with their workers.

Livelihood Programs
The company can go very far in helping employees start alternative sources of income by supporting livelihood seminars for employees or their dependents and giving low or no interest livelihood loans to them. One of the reasons why poor families remain poor is due to lack of income resources or lack of income generating individuals in the family. Training the workers or their families to start a small business can ease their family's dependence on the meager income of the marginalized worker.

Teach them to manage their finances
Lack of financial management know-how contributes to employees financial woes. Companies can bankroll training programs that will help employees learn how to spend and invest wisely.

Support an Employees' Cooperative
Employees should be able to find other sources of income through cooperatives. A well funded, well managed employees' cooperative can help employees buy goods at lower prices, borrow business money at lower interest rates and earn dividends from net surplus. I've seen companies do this successfully. There are a lot of them to benchmark from. All you have to do is do some research on how it is done.

Develop employees capability to move up
Properly managed and implemented human resource development programs can help improve employees chances of success in the future. Companies can give priceless contribution to employees financial gain by training them new skills and teaching them how to improve their performance.

Do not engage in labor only contracting
It does not require a genius to figure out what many large companies are doing to feed their hunger for the numbers. No, contractual employment and getting the services of manpower agencies is hardly about the need to survive, its more about the need to surpass last years profitability record. It's their measure of success... sadly, their only measure of success. Labor only contracting is illegal for a reason and immoral for the same reason. Unfortunately, companies find easy work-arounds which is why this is method of employment continue to prolifirate.

I'm not a very religious person but I find this biblical passage as an apt ending to this already long piece:

Luke 12:16-21 He spoke a parable to them, saying, "The ground of a certain rich man brought forth abundantly. He reasoned within himself, saying, ‘What will I do, because I don’t have room to store my crops?’ He said, ‘This is what I will do. I will pull down my barns, and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. I will tell my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years. Take your ease, eat, drink, be merry."‘ "But God said to him, ‘You foolish one, tonight your soul is required of you. The things which you have prepared—whose will they be?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."


  1. hello ed! the new taxation scheme for the minimum wage earners is a useful tool to alleviate without spending more on the part of the employer.

  2. i would like to know the benefits a company gets when they hire employees on a contractual basis? as far as i know, under the labor code, contractual employees are entitled to 13th month pay, holiday pay, OT pay, government benefits such as SSS, pag-ibig & philhealth. so why should a company hire contractual employees if these companies are also required to pay all these benefits to contractual employees?


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