Saturday, September 12, 2020

NAGKAISA Welcomes Repeal of Labor Advisory No. 17

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Upon Assumption of Business Operations under Labor Advisory No. 17, Series of 2020, or Labor Advisory No 17 (LA) was repealed by Secretary Silvestre Bello III when he recently signed LA 17-B.

It was unanimously recommended to be rescinded by both the employers' and workers' groups at the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council (NTIPC) meeting last July 29.

Workers and their unions need to be vigilant and persistent to assert and protect their rights. All actions and collective efforts will make a difference.

Sec 4. and Sec 8 of LA 17-B categorically rescinded the whole of LA 17. NAGKAISA! Labor Coalition upon DOLE’s 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 included Section 5 that allows employers and employees to “agree voluntarily and in writing to temporarily adjust employees’ wage and wage-related benefits.”

Nagkaisa also welcomes the amendments to D.O. 213 which earlier suspended labor proceedings including health and safety inspections before the DOLE and its bureaus and regional offices. D.O. 214 was recently issued to resume safety inspections, hearings and conferences, though done via zoom or on limited or skeletal basis

Nagkaisa has been holding that both LA 17 and D.O. 213 are contrary to existing laws and jurisprudence and highly disadvantageous to workers. D.O. 213 virtually paralyzed DOLE’s inspectorate power at a time that its action is most needed at the height of the 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 simply had to 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 contractualize the workplace and resulted to the dismissal of union leaders, active union members and regular workers in the name of flexible working arrangements.

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 safety and health standards as workers grapple with the difficulties and hardships brought about by the pandemic.

DO 214 was likewise issued resuming limited inspections, and labor dispute hearings and conferences via zoom or on skeletal or limited basis.

In a tripartite meeting on July 29, 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 issued a new advisory (LA 17-A) rescinding and an amended Department Order (DO 214) to repeal the controversial LA 17 and to modify the subject D.O. 213, respectively.

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