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BLIND SPOT: Work, Work, Work

Last Easter, a friend started a light conversation. It was notable that he was in cheerful spirits. Recalling of a time when he mentioned about an interview just recently, I inquired about it. He lightly told me that he has been applying for a job and though there had not been any concrete results, things are looking good so far. This surprised me since I have been fully aware that he has worked for more than a decade in a popular beverage company. Then he strikes a nerve in me when he relates that he has been included in a mass layoff of 50% of the employee population due to the TRANE Law. I was struck dumbfounded. My friend was still maintaining his smile, telling me about all the house repairs that he had done for the past month that he has stayed home. I was left with an open mouth; still dumbfounded. 50%? That’s too many. Is this what tax reform doing. All of a sudden, my mind was going on overdrive. If this happens in a cola company, wouldn’t there be a reasonably high probability that the same would be happening in similar companies? Or some sort of measure that is disadvantageous to employees has been going on or looming its ugly head around the corner. “Earlier this February, Coca-Cola announced that it will be downsizing its workforce due to an «organizational structure assessment.» The decision came after the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law was passed in December. Under the TRAIN law, sugary and sweet beverages will be imposed a P6-per-liter tax using sugar and artificial sweeteners. Drinks using high fructose corn syrup will be imposed a P12-per-liter tax.” ( And I was already complaining of more expensive soda; but losing a job which one has had for so long? Now, that’s a different conversation altogether. However, labor union leaders are pointing to another direction. They claim that the TRANE explanation is a mere façade for union busting and collective bargaining agreement violations. “Workers alleged some of those affected by the layoff are officers of unions meant to do the negotiations. They also said CBA violations occurred when employees were not properly notified or consulted about the situation.” ( Well, whatever the case may be, fact remains that a whole mass of workers have lost their jobs. Interestingly, this mass reversion from longstanding employment to sudden unemployment coincides with a more massive graduation of college students to job applicants. A whole throng of kids are ready and eager to board ship that is evicting its residents. How’s that going to happen? “Finding an average job in the Philippines is easy, finding a decent job is hard. Unless you have an undergraduate/graduate degree and with good academic standing, you will have a hard time finding a decent entry level job.” ( Well, that’s regular 8 to 5 employment, reporting to your work station , with a boss, kind of a job. How about starting your own business? “Now, if you have a plan for a business that you plan to put up in the Philippines when you move here, have the capital investment needed to get the business started, and have enough additional capital to keep yourself living for 6 months or a year while the business gains traction, well, you are starting to move in the right direction. Even that is not a really good plan, but it’s a lot better than looking for a job in the Philippines.” ( Now, wait a minute. You’re talking about rich kids with rich parents there; those who would have it good going for them even if they hated college. Why is it so hard anyway? “There are less jobs and more people looking to fill those jobs. Employers can search for the best of the best.” “With so many people laid off the skills and experience pool ups the ante. Getting the job is that much more difficult because there are so many highly skilled professionals that are willing to take jobs that they normally wouldn’t take.” “High technology needs less working hands so less jobs are available to workers.”( So, the job market is probably the source of inspiration for the concept of the Survivor and Big Brother reality TV shows. However, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority, “The employment rate in January 2018 was estimated at 94.7 percent. In January 2017, the employment rate was 93.4 percent.” “The unemployment rate in January 2018 was estimated at 5.3 percent. The unemployment rate in January 2017 was 6.6 percent.” ( So, maybe it isn’t so bad after all. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,” Colossians 3:20

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