The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is being asked by the labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM) to recall the order extending the floating status of workers to one year. The group called on the DOLE to re-submit the proposal to the deliberation of the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council (NTIPC) where labor, employers and government are represented.
“We appeal to Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello to recall DO 215. DOLE orders should be subject to tripartite agreement and not be unilateral decisions of government,” asserted Renato Magtubo, PM national chair.
He wondered why the DOLE pushed through with extending the floating status of workers when labor groups were firm in their opposition to the proposal when it was tabled in an NTIPC meeting.
PM countered the position of Labor Undersecretary Benjo Benavidez that extending the floating status is a measure to protect workers. “DO 215 is pro-employer as it allows them to evade payment of separation benefits to workers who are now more than six months on forced leave,” insisted Magtubo.
According to PM, thousands of workers have already filed complaints for constructive dismissal because their employers have not reinstated them since the lockdown started in March. “Who will benefit from the dismissal of these cases because of DO 215? Thus the DOLE is being disingenuous when it says that DO 215 is protective of workers,” Magtubo stated.
He also answered DOLE’s claim that the Labor Code is silent on the floating status of workers: “Article 310 provides that workers are deemed not terminated—meaning employees are put on forced leave or floating status—when the operations of a company are suspended, which is the scenario at present. But Article 301 explicitly mandates that such suspension cannot exceed six months—and for good reason more than half a year is too long for workers to suffer on no work, no pay.”
He recalled that the DOLE earlier floated the deferment of the 13th month pay but backtracked because of outrage over the proposal. PM is calling on workers to similarly express opposition to DO 215.
Magtubo maintained that “DO 215 is another example of DOLE’s social distancing from workers in the time of covid. Earlier DOLE released a series of orders and advisories such as DO 213 that suspended complaints and inspections and LA 17 that allowed diminution of wages and benefits. All these disadvantaged workers impacted by the lockdown and opened them to abuse by employers. Labor’s challenge finally led to DO 213’s repeal by DO 214 which permitted the operation of the dispute resolution mechanisms for workers.”
October 30, 2020