Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Workers losing ground from DOLE's wrong policy direction

Recent labor advisories, particularly Department Order (DO) No. 213 and Labor Advisory (LA) No. 17 and 18 issued by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) under Sec. Silvestre Bello are loosening up some well placed labor standards that protect workers from being exploited under normal conditions as well as during crisis situations.

Labor Advisory No. 17 is an example of how an emergency instrument can legitimize wage reduction at a time regular income and #AyudangSapatParaSaLahat are badly needed by no work-no pay workers.

The pre-Covid19 low wage regime that dominated industries for decades can only be negotiated up not down, but here is DOLE giving ECOP a wider latitude in making flexible work arrangements and diminution of wages and benefits a legitimate exercise of their prerogative. This policy will surely work in favor of the employers as workers are made to choose between jobs and fair income which, in the ideal world of Harry Roque, does not exist during this time.

LA 17 is no different from LA 18 which requires employers to cover the cost of PPE's and testing but did not make mass testing mandatory.

The same goes with the DOLE-DTI guidelines which required employers to provide shuttle services or near-site accommodation to their employees but without mandating their compliance.

Kaya nauwi lahat sa 'bahala na si batman.'

Employers of course can only be happy with any policy that is not mandatory yet allows flexibility on their side to shortchange workers without facing any penalty.

We maintain that in times of crisis, the role of the state is to defend the better standards from eroding and to further seek its better ideals in the practical world where the power of capital rules.

This loss of direction on the part of DOLE we believe is not due to developmental topographical disorientation (DTD) syndrome as getting out of line most of the time is a regular thing in the department.

19 May 2020

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