Problem of survival for workers, businesses

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    `Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello, in issuing new guidelines to be implemented by employers in the work places, seemed to limit all the concern on the workers, and the additional burden, on the employers.’

    THE Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) was true to its mandated mission of caring for the nation’s work force, especially now that not all employees who temporarily lost their jobs in the aftermath of the long enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) will no longer have jobs to return to even as the government has gradually opened the economy.

    The pruning of the economy is real, and the contraction has affected the incomes and livelihood of both the working class and the capitalists. The economic recovery for the nation will be long and arduous, and it will take all the resources and efforts of many sectors in Philippine society to make this recovery as painless and smooth as possible.

    Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello, in issuing new guidelines to be implemented by employers in the work places, seemed to limit all the concern on the workers, and the additional burden, on the employers.

    The DOLE said these guidelines are about how best employers can protect jobs, and prevent layoffs and retrenchments amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

    In Labor Advisory No. 17, the Labor department “highly encouraged” work-from-home and telecommuting for employees in businesses and industries already allowed to resume operations under the modified enhanced community quarantine or general community quarantine.

    “Employees on work-from-home or telecommuting arrangement shall be provided with adequate support to perform the assigned task or job,”  the advisory said.

    As an alternative to termination of employment or closure of business, the DOLE said any or a combination of the following work schemes may also be adopted: transfer of employee to another branch; assignment of employee to another function or position, in the same or another branch or outlet; reduction of normal workdays or work hours; job rotations; partial closure of an establishment while some department or unit continues; and other schemes necessary or peculiar to the survival of a specific business or establishment.

    The guidelines say employers should have various wage and benefits schemes necessary for the continuance of business and employment in conjunction with agreed company policies and their respective collective bargaining agreements (CBAs).

    “We know that businesses have suffered so much, but for the sake of our economy we encourage them to dig deeper into their vast reserve of charity and benevolence so that their workers and the communities can continue to further weather this crisis,” Bello said.

    Meanwhile, in Labor Advisory No. 18, DOLE said that the prevention and control of the COVID-19 virus in a specific work place, business, or industry should be shouldered by employers.

    The DOLE said employers, contractors and subcontractors, or their principals, should shoulder expenses in the conduct of the following prevention and control measures: testing of employees; disinfection of facilities; provision of hand sanitizers; procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE), such as face masks; etc.

    As for contractual workers such as security guards, maintenance crews and janitorial workers, the expenses shall be borne by the principal, or client, of the contractor or subcontractor.

    We understand that labor is DOLE’s main concern, but should not Bello also think about the businessmen? Nine weeks without income with cash flows always in the direction of “out,” salaries and rent and utility bills to pay, need for loans and additional capital to recover… and then this, more expenses and pressure bearing down on business.

    We thought Bello wanted to save jobs and restore business confidence to stimulate growth in the economy.

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