The Guidelines on Employment Preservation Upon Assumption of Business Operations under Labor Advisory No. 17, Series of 2020, or Labor Advisory No 17 (LA) was unanimously recommended to be rescinded by both the employers' and workers ' groups and accepted by DOLE as a tripartite in yesterday's National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council (NTIPC).
D.O. 213 Prescribing Guidelines on the Prescription of Actions and the Suspension of Reglementary Period to file Pleadings, Motions and Other Documents were also recommended to be amended.
NAGKAISA! Labor Coalition upon its issuance of LA 17 and D.O 213 in May 2020 objected to their implementation as the issuances would further exploit workers who are already starving under ECQ.
LA 17 includes Section 5 that allows employers and employees to “agree voluntarily and in writing to temporarily adjust employees’ wage and wage-related benefits.”
D.O. 213 suspended labor proceedings including health and safety inspections before the DOLE and its bureaus and regional offices.
Nagkaisa has been holding that this LA 17 and D.O. 213 are contrary to existing law and jurisprudence and highly disadvantageous to workers. D.O. 213 as if paralysis DOLE inspectorate power at the time that its action is most needed in time of COVID-19 pandemic.
Coming from a long ECQ, during its implementation in the past months, workers, especially those who are unorganized, have no option except to follow the wishes of their employers alluded to in LA 17. Many unscrupulous employers had simply threaten workers with dismissals or company closures if they don’t “voluntarily” agree to rollback their wages and other wage-related benefits.
Further, LA 17 was used to further contractualized the workplace and resulted to to the dismissal of regular workers in the name of flexible working arrangement.
And NAGKAISA had been asserting that it would be difficult to reinstate the previous wage levels enjoyed by workers as the same offensive Section 5 allows employers to “review their agreement and may renew the same” after six months.
NAGKAISA has been calling the DOLE to rescind LA 17 as it has been giving employers a blank check to roll back the gains made by the unions and even pay their workers starvation wages!
The broadest labor Coalition argued that the state must never allow itself to become a party to employers' latest trick to shortchange their workers.
D.O. 213 was also recommended to be amended to resume DOLE visitorial and inspectorate power as a number of employers don't comply with labor standards as well as health and safety as workers grapple with the difficulties and hardships brought by the pandemic.
In a tripartite meeting this yesterday afternoon, NAGKAISA workers' representatives in the NTIPC called again to immediately rescind the Labor Advisory 17 and amend D.O. 213.
There was a tripartite consensus to do away with LA 17 and to amend D.O. 213 and the Office of the Secretary of Labor will issue a new advisory rescinding and an amended Department Order to modify the controversial LA and the subject D.O., respectively.