Friday, October 9, 2020

NAGKAISA Rejects Extention of Six-month Floating Status and Deferment of 13th Month Pay

The Nagkaisa Labor Coalition rejects the DOLE's proposal to extend the six month floating status of employment; and the deferment of payment of 13th month pay.

The labor standards law cannot be amended or repealed by executive fiat. The spring cannot be above the source.

Under the law, suspension of employment cannot exceed six (6) months. The DOLE’s proposal allowing an extension of the period when employment is suspended for six (6) more months does not have any support in law. 

Article 301 of the Labor Code only allows for a bona fide suspension of operation of a business or undertaking for a period not exceeding six months. 

The DOLE has no authority to issue a Department Order or Advisory in violation of the Labor Code, which it is mandated to implement. In the words of the Supreme Court, “the law prevails over administrative regulations implementing it.  The authority to promulgate implementing rules proceeds from the law itself. To be valid, a rule or regulation must conform to and be consistent with the provisions of the enabling statute. As such, it cannot amend the law either by abridging or expanding its scope.” (Perez v PT&T, G.R. No. 152048, April 7, 2009)

Only Congress can amend the law, if it agrees with the DOLE’s intent to prolong the floating status of employment.

As it now stands, an executive fiat cannot validly be done via the issuance of a Department Order.

Nagkaisa is gravely  concerned with the various extra-legal measures that have recently been proposed in the guise of coping with the current pandemic including the extension of employment floating status and the deferment of the payment of 13th month pay and other benefits.

Instead of removing this labor protection, Nagkaisa urges the Duterte administration not to be inutile and remain a by-stander while the Labor Department exacerbates the suffering of workers. It needs to spur the economy and grant subsidies to SMEs for them to maintain their workforce and pay the required labor standards.

In this time of COVID-19 pandemic, the sympathy and compassion of the law for the less privileged workers is imperative, not to be disregarded but considered.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Nagkaisa pushes for SOLAR and USWAG to address widening decent work deficit amid the pandemic

Today is the World Day for Decent Work and the country’s broadest labor coalition Nagkaisa is pushing for the protection of labor rights amid the health and economic crises and the adoption of its agenda on income and employment guarantees to address the intensifying unemployment problem and consequent loss of incomes. 

In an online national conference held last October 3, some 200 Nagkaisa local leaders nationwide have unanimously approved the coalition’s State of Labor and its Agenda on Recovery (SOLAR) and its accompanying agenda on public employment called USWAG or Unemployment Support and Work Assistance Guarantee. 

SOLAR is Nagkaisa’s recovery agenda that pursue a combination of different programs, including: 
(1) Protection of labor rights during health and economic crises;
(2) Supporting key sectors: An industrial strategy for recovery 
(3) Supporting MSMEs;
(4) Employment and income guarantees; 
(5) Universal and resilient public health systems based on equity and solidarity;
(6) Just transition into safe and efficient transportation systems, and;
(7) Financing and resource mobilization for the recovery program

USWAG on the other hand calls for a state-led creation of jobs, including green jobs, ranging from 100 days to 9 months, and to provide not less than P10,000 income guarantees to the unemployed, including OFWs, to enhance aggregate demands that the economy badly needs for recovery. It was officially submitted by Nagkaisa to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) last September 14.  

The group asserts that many of the emergent social tasks in health, environment, and climate emergencies can only be performed by the state rather than by the market. That means the state is mainly responsible for financing these programs. 

A wealth tax or solidarity tax is likewise proposed under Nagkaisa’s SOLAR for resource refueling and to finance recovery. 

The group added that the onset of the pandemic has only worsened decent work deficits in the Philippines and worldwide as hard lockdown and lousy health response forced businesses to shutdown and sent millions of workers out of jobs. Adult unemployment remains very high at 39.5% in September, according to the latest survey conducted by the Social Weather Station (SWS). 

Decent Work, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO), “involves opportunities for work that is productive and delivers a fair income, security in the workplace and social protection for families, better prospects for personal development and social integration, freedom for people to express their concerns, organize and participate in the decisions that affect their lives and equality of opportunity and treatment for all women and men.” Lacking any or many of these elements is what is called decent work deficit.

Likewise, a report by the global trade union listed the Philippines among 10 countries most dangerous for trade union activities.