DOLE calls on contractors to open more jobs for displaced workers

Marje Pelayo   •   May 19, 2020   •   353

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) reported that around 2.6 million Filipinos have lost their jobs after several industries closed due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Metro Manila is now under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) and several industries have been allowed to reopen including the construction industry, both private and public. 

Due to the crisis, DOLE is calling on all contractors to open more jobs to help those who were displaced by the COVID-19 crisis.

Dagdagan nila from 10 to 20 percent kumbaga sa kung maari gawing manualized yung mga workers wag munang mechanized sa halip na mag back-hoe magdagdag lang ng bente na workers,” asked Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III. 

[Increase their workforce by 10 to 20 percent and if possible, they may opt to do the work manually to accommodate more workers instead of mechanized. Instead of using a back-hoe, they may employ more workers to do the job.]

According to DOLE, the construction industry under MECQ is allowed to operate at 100 percent manpower capacity.

Also, the Labor Department is encouraging contractors to provide their workers with barracks so they will no longer have to commute to and from their residences, especially these days when public transport remains suspended. 

Aside from that, DOLE has urged private companies to provide company shuttle services for their workers who are obliged to report to the sites. 

If a shuttle service is not possible, companies may set a different working arrangement for their workers; otherwise, they will be forced to remain non-operational. 

Kung hindi mo madala, kung wala kang transportation ay hindi makakapasok ang worker. Kapag hindi nakapasok ang worker, walang sweldo, [If you cannot provide transportation, your worker will not be able to come to work. Without work, they will not receive pay],” Bello explained.

Ngayon, kung hindi mo kayang i-provide ang transportation sa mga workers mo mapipilitan kang mag stop operations na, temporary closure na [Now, if you cannot provide transportation for your workers, then you will be forced to stop operations or temporary closure],” he added.

Employers are required to submit to DOLE as to which work adjustment scheme they prefer to implement for their workers.

Meanwhile, DOLE clarified that workers or employees are not obliged to take COVID-19 testing before returning to work except those who are showing symptoms of COVID-19 or those who had exposure to COVID-19 confirmed cases. –MNP (with reports from Joan Nano)

DOLE denounces ABS-CBN’s claim of compliance with labor practices

Marje Pelayo   •   July 2, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Wednesday (July 1) denounced the claims made by lawyers and officials of ABS-CBN Corporation that it found the network compliant with labor laws and standards.

In a statement, the labor department said it “denounces attempts by lawyers and officials of ABS-CBN to misrepresent its position to deceive members of the House of Representatives in its bid to gain congressional approval for a new franchise.”

Additionally, DOLE denied ABS-CBN’s claim that the department approves of the firm’s seasonal work status for its program employees.

DOLE said its inspectors found violations of labor practices on the part of ABS-CBN but added that “the company took steps to correct those infractions.”

“It is therefore patently misleading to attribute to us the claim that ABS-CBN is a compliant company,” the agency said adding that there are actually 67 pending cases against ABS-CBN in the National Labor Relation Commission (NLRC) and in various courts.

“We also warn the broadcast firm’s counsels against wrongfully presenting policy issuances of the department to the advantage of their client,” DOLE said.

“The cited rule governing the employee-employer relationship in the broadcast industry 40 years ago, which is not aligned with the provisions of the Labor Code, does not anymore apply to date,” it added.

The labor department said it will not let the matter pass.

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Bello says no to use of OFW funds to aid displaced migrant workers

Robie de Guzman   •   July 1, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III has rejected calls to use the trust fund being managed by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to provide for the emergency needs of Filipino migrant workers displaced by the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

“They are sending us more than $30 billion a year. Nakakatulong sa ekonomiya natin. Kaya naman, for once, pay back naman tayo. ‘Wag nating galawin yung pera nila,” Bello said in a statement issued on Tuesday.

The OWWA earlier asked for a P5 billion supplemental budget from Congress to prolong its fund’s sustainability as it warned of a “largely looming” bankruptcy should it continue to spend for the food, accommodation, and transportation of repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFW) beyond 2021.

At a Senate hearing last week, OWWA chief Hans Leo Cacdac said the agency’s P18.79-billion fund is expected to be reduced to P10 billion by the end of this year, and plunge below P1 billion by the end of 2021 should OFWs continue to be displaced and repatriated.

Cacdac said OWWA has so far spent more than P800 million for the repatriation, accommodation and cash assistance for returning OFWs.

Bello said OWWA funds should be spent more on its members’ needs, such as for livelihood or their children’s education.

“Dapat gobyerno ang magbigay ng pera para matiyak natin na lahat ng kailangan ng ating mga OFW ay matugunan natin… Bakit naman, for the first time na hihingi naman sila ng tulong, nangangailangan sila ng tulong, bakit naman kailangan nating galawin yung pondo nila?… ‘Wag natin gamitin ang pera na ‘yan sa panahong ito,” the labor chief said.

“Government has to take extra steps in order to assure additional budget to help our OFWs,” he added.

“Huwag nating hayaan na maramdaman ng OFW na tinitipid sila sa kabila ng napakalaki nilang naitulong sa ekonomiya natin in the good and in the best of times,” he further stated.

Bello said around 63,000 Filipino workers have already been brought home while about 90,000 others remain stranded in other countries and are awaiting repatriation.

DOLE hopes to repatriate OFWs’ remains from Saudi Arabia before July 4

Robie de Guzman   •   June 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III has expressed hope to fly home the bodies of 301 deceased overseas Filipino workers before the July 4 deadline set by the Saudi government.

“We were given a deadline of July 4, so we hope to bring them back before that deadline,” he said in a statement issued on Sunday.

DOLE earlier reported that preparations are underway to bring home the remains of Filipino workers who died in Saudi Arabia, including the 152 who succumbed to novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The remains of deceased OFWs will be brought home via two chartered flights from Riyadh and Jeddah.

DOLE said the Department of Health (DOH) is expected to issue this week the protocols in handling, reception and domestic transport of the remains.

Upon arrival in the country, Bello said the remains of those who died from coronavirus disease will be brought directly to the crematoriums identified by their respective families or local government units.

While those who died of natural causes will be allowed to be fetched by their respective families.

Meanwhile, Bello assured the government is ready to receive and assist more returning Filipino workers who were displaced by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Labor chief made the assurance as he welcomed the statement of Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines to allow more airlines to operate for OFW repatriation.

CAAP has been strictly regulating flights in the country to help curb the spread of the viral respiratory disease.

However, the restriction has prevented government from maximizing its initiatives to repatriate migrant workers whose jobs took a hit amid the global health crisis.

“With CAAP’s permission, we can now bring home more OFWs so they can find refuge in their own country and be reunited with their families,” Bello said.

“We now have systems to locate and track OFWs so that while they signify their intention of flying home, preparations for them are already being made such as testing, hotel accommodation, and transport service to their places of origin,” he added, referring to the OFW Assistance Information System (OASIS) of DOLE developed to locate migrant workers and help government prepare the needs of returning OFWs.

“What’s important is the readiness of the government to provide prompt and appropriate service for our OFWs,” Bello said.

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