MANILA–Senators on Monday, Labor Day, urged the government to ensure that economic pursuits are beneficial to the labor force noting that it is part of its obligation.
Among them was Sen. Loren Legarda, who stressed that the labor force had significant contributions to the country’s economy and overall development.
“We must ensure that our economic pursuits are beneficial to our labor force. We have the moral and legal obligation to defend the rights of each and every Filipino to decent work, which includes decent wages, salaries, benefits and good working conditions,” Legarda said.
Legarda, chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, pointed out that the celebration of Labor Day recognizes the role workers play in the development of the country particularly their contribution to the economy.
“Our country would not function without them (labor workers). We should address their concerns and protect their fundamental rights, including those working overseas,” she added.
Legarda also said that the government must ensure that labor rights are at the centerpiece of the new trade agreements with the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
She noted that the 2017 General Appropriations Act (GAA) includes funding for a lot of programs on jobs creation and livelihood opportunities — employment facilitation, capacity building, rural and emergency employment services under the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), training for work scholarship programs under the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), employment facilitation under the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), establishment of Negosyo Centers, business management training services, and shared service facilities under the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), among many others.
Moreover, she cited the potential of the Philippines to generate thousands of green jobs, especially if there are more renewable energy investments in the country.
Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, meanwhile, urged his colleagues to pass a bill which grants night shift differential pay to government employees, including employees of government-owned or controlled corporations, who work during night time.
Under Trillanes’ proposed Senate Bill No. 642, government workers who render work between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. shall be given a night shift differential pay at a rate not exceeding 20 percent of the hourly rate of the employee.
This incentive shall be given to all government employees, including those in government-owned or controlled corporations, regardless of their nature of employment, whether permanent, contractual, temporary or casual.
There are government personnel, like public health workers, who were already given night shift differential in past laws. Under Republic Act No. 7305, public health workers are paid night-shift differential of 10 percent of his/her regular wage for each hour of work performed during the night-shifts customarily adopted by hospitals.
“This Labor day, it must be highlighted that government employees should be given the same benefits as those given to employees of the private sector. Our government workers have long suffered neglect and poor working conditions. This is just a simple effort to repay them of their service and to recognize their role as the backbone of our government,” Trillanes said.
“This Labor day, it must be highlighted that government employees should be given the same benefits as those given to employees of the private sector. Our government workers have long suffered neglect and poor working conditions. This is just a simple effort to repay them of their service and to recognize their role as the backbone of our government,” he added.
Sen. Nancy Binay, for her part, assured that the Senate would continue to push for measures that would benefit labor workers by improving their means of living.
Binay cited the Expanded Maternity Leave Law of 2017 (Senate Bill 1305) and the income tax exemption for employees who earn PHP 30,000 and lower as examples of measures that benefit the labor force.