BUSINESS GROUPS and trade unions said they need to be able to participate at the working-group level in preparing the National Government’s employment recovery plan.

The organizations said in a statement Tuesday that the National Employment Recovery Strategy (NERS) task force should have dialogue with employers and workers groups.

“The engagement of the task force with the genuine representatives of employers and workers groups will bring a more coordinated and cohesive collaboration among the public and private sectors in the recovery strategy of the economy,” the groups said.

“Substantively (involve) employers and workers groups by ensuring their genuine representation in the various technical working groups of the task force.”

The statement was released by the Leaders Forum, which is composed of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines, Federation of Free Workers, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa, Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc., and the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte in June signed an executive order creating the NERS task force to work on the government’s plan to restore employment until 2022.

Noting that the NERS implementation is on a 2021-2022 timeframe, the groups said social dialogue is needed to improve policy reforms that will shape the rebound from the economic crisis caused by the pandemic.

“The Leaders Forum appreciates that a whole-of-government approach is necessary to curb the ill effects of the pandemic and ultimately address the employment crisis with speed and urgency,” they said.

Private-sector groups in June said they planned to organize job caravan events, identify vacancies and make recommendations to the NERS task force, while the task force planned to provide profiles for job vacancy referrals and promote alternative work arrangements.

The recovery strategy is expected to involve the drafting of legislation, the upskilling of workers, the creation of employability programs, the provision of loan assistance to enterprises, the suspension of fees, and outlays for social protection to vulnerable groups.

NERS is budgeted for P1.14 trillion.

In late June, the Labor department estimated that NERS is “expected to generate at least 220,000 jobs and assist over 1.4 million Filipinos struggling with unemployment and income losses.”

The Department of Trade and Industry chairs the task force, with the Department of Labor and Employment and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority as co-chairs. — Jenina P. Ibañez and Bianca Angelica D. Añago