- Posted September 27, 2011 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Boot camp: Headline writing & story building
My Final Story
1. He Wears a "Blue Collar"
2. Life of a Blue Collar Worker
3. 13 hours for $3.5
Based on the Philippine Labor Force Survey (LFS), about 37.1 million Filipinos are employed as of July 2011. This figure was 2.4 percent higher than the 36.2 million employed Filipinos posted in July 2010. Laborers and unskilled workers comprised 32.6 percent of the total employed population, making them the largest workforce. This occupation group is descriptively known as the “blue-collar workers.” Workers who fall under this category generally do unskilled tasks or manual labor and usually have low income.
Gie Paderna, 25 years old, is one of the many Filipino blue collar workers. He has worked as a store vendor at Cabuyao Market Place, Laguna province. The store sells eggs, plastic bags and cooking oil. He interacts with customers literally every day. As a store vendor, he is responsible for the customers’ satisfaction, store inventories, order processing, and the store’s orderliness.
Gie started working at the age of 17. They are nine in the family, including his parents. He attended college for one semester with Management as his course and opted not to continue because of financial matter. “I am working very hard not just for myself, but for my parents and most importantly, for my family,” says Gie.
Currently, Gie works from 6:30 AM until 7:30 PM, total of 13 hours a day. He earns a monthly salary of $105, or $3.5 each day. Last year, his salary was $93. In short, he works 13 hours a day for $3.5. If the store sold more than the usual, he would get an incentive. He does not have any day-off; hence he works literally every day. A report published in 1997 by the Pacific Bridge Incorporated showed that in the Philippines, the rural minimum blue collar wage is as low as $4.50 a day while the minimum wage in Manila (capital of Philippines) is about $5.60. After almost 13 years, blue collar wages in the country still remain low. Many labor organizations in the Philippines persistently protest this issue of salary increase.
In terms of employee-employer relationship, Gie is glad to say that he does have a good relationship with his employer. “We are okay. In fact, I could borrow money from him. Also, if I am sick he would help me financially and my salary is still the same, no deduction.” Gie got easily accepted from his job. According to him, he just passed a simple Biodata and that was it. One of his brothers is also a store vendor at the store where he works, who earns as same as him.
One of the main mandatory benefits of employees in the Philippines is the Social Security System (SSS). The scopes of SSS benefits are employees’ sickness, maternity, retirement, disability, death and funeral, and compensation. Under the Philippine law, “All persons under the age of 60 who earn income from employment of more than P1,000 per month are required to contribute to the SSS.” According to Gie, he is an SSS member but is not sure of the benefits. Unlike him, a great number of self-employed workers and their employees are not SSS members. Based on the study of Dr. Bach M. Macaraya, there are several reasons for this. First, the income of the self-employed is low. Second, offices of the SSS are often located in urban areas. Lastly, self-employed are unaware of the importance of social security. The latter reason is what the most prevalent. He suggested an intensive information campaign of the importance of SSS from the government.
As a worker, Gie does not want to join those workers who conduct rallies about issues regarding employees’ rights and benefits. He said that it is nonsense. Moreover, he knows his rights as a worker but is not aware of the Labor Code of the Philippines. “What I am aware of is the fact that I am working legally. I believe this is more important. I have my family to support.” Finally, his working principles are to help increase the store’s sales and to help his employer.
As Gie put it this way, his work is both easy and hard. He is satisfied with his job and dreams of having his own business to run. He personally does not care of wearing a "blue collar" tag.