Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Labor group raises concerns on 4-day work week proposal

18 February 2014
The labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) has raised several concerns to the proposed 4-day work week to address monstrous traffic caused by the construction of Skyway 3, saying the proposal may not achieve its intended outcome.
“It does not follow that by reducing days of work, the volume of vehicles will significantly drop as most ordinary workers do not own vehicles.  It is not also automatic that when you cut the number of workers in a particular day, you also cut the business operation of public utility vehicles (PUVs),” said PM spokesperson Wilson Fortaleza.
Based on available data, private vehicles absolutely outnumber public utility vehicles in Metro Manila but around 70 percent of the volume of transporting people is carried out by PUVs.
“The proposal to cut the workers’ volume on a particular day of a week, however, is based on the plain assumption that no work would mean less vehicles on the streets, which is wishful thinking when the city is ruled by private vehicles,” said Fortaleza.
Another concern, he said, will be the impact of this proposal to small scale and micro enterprises (SMEs), particularly those in the wholesale and retail industry which comprise more than 90% of establishments and which employ the biggest number of workers in Metro Manila. 
The group said that the List of Establishments prepared by the National Statistics Office (NSO) indicated that establishments located in NCR employed about 3.0 million persons or 39% of the total employment in 2012.  On the average, each establishment in NCR employed about 14 persons.
PM further believes that compared to big industries, SMEs productivity and survival rely on daily sales of goods and services.
Fortaleza added that while flexible working hours is allowed under the law, it should not likewise result to the reduction or diminution of workers’ benefits, specifically on the provision of overtime pay above the mandatory 8-hour work day.  The proposal, he said, may lead to legalizing non-payment of overtime.
“Thus, absent a thorough study and consultations on affected sectors, the proposal to clear off the roads may end up punishing the poor,” stated Fortaleza.
PM, however, concedes that the traffic problem in Metro Manila must be addressed in the immediate and in the long term, but believes that there are many ways to do it. 
“Solutions to the problem must not only serve the minority interest of car-owning population.  City spaces, including roads, must also be inclusive. Thus, we are more in favour of developing mass transport systems particularly railways, rather than building more road networks that largely serve the comfort of private car owners,” concluded Fortaleza.

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