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VILLANUEVA: CONSULT FIRST ON 13TH MONTH PAY DELAY

Senator Joel Villanueva has asked the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to convene the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council immediately to begin consultations on the agency’s proposal to defer the payout of the mandated 13th month pay.

“The department should consult both employers’ and workers’ groups before coming up with a policy on the deferment, as both parties are struggling to survive as the country plunged into the deepest recession in almost four decades,” according to Villanueva, chair of the Senate labor committee.

“Hinihikayat po natin ang DOLE na agad pulungin ang tripartite council sa lalong madaling panahon upang talakayin ang proposal sa pagpapaliban ng pagbayad ng 13th month pay (We ask DOLE to convene the tripartite council immediately to discuss the proposal to defer the 13th month pay for our workers),” the veteran legislator said.

“This is a serious concern for both our workers and employers, and there must be sufficient consultation to ensure that any policy to be adopted will be acceptable to all parties.”

“Malaking usapin po ito sa ating mga manggagawa at dapat po may sapat na konsultasyon para makasiguro po tayo na ang mabubuong polisiya ay katanggap-tanggap sa lahat. Kailangan pong magkaroon ng malinaw na polisiya sa usaping ito upang hindi po mabitin ang ating mga employer at mga manggagawa (This is a serious concern for both our workers and employers, and there must be sufficient consultation to ensure that any policy to be adopted will be acceptable to all parties),” the seasoned lawmaker stressed.

“Nauunawaan po natin ang mga posisyon ng ating mga employer, higit lalo ang maliliit na negosyo, na sinusubukang ipagpatuloy ang kanilang mga operasyon at ang kalagayan ng ating mga manggagawa. Dapat pong simulan na ng DOLE ang konsultasyon sa pagitan ng mga employer at manggagawa upang magkaroon ng malinaw at resonableng solusyon (We understand the positions of our employers, especially MSMEs, who are trying to keep their operations going, and of our workers who are in dire need of assistance. DOLE should begin the tripartite consultation so it is able to come up with a clear and reasonable solution),” the senator noted.

“What is important is for DOLE to put together a guideline that is based on the realities faced by both employers and workers.”

“Ang mahalaga po para sa DOLE ay makapagbalangkas ng panuntunang naka-angkla sa mga realidad na kinakaharap ng mga employer at manggagawa. Gusto po natin makabuo ng win-win solution para sa mga manggagawa at employer sa pamamagitan ng konsultasyon (What is important is for DOLE to put together a guideline that is based on the realities faced by both employers and workers),” he added.

Villanueva conceded that the current business climate is taking a toll on employers, especially the MSMEs, who are struggling to keep their operations afloat with most of them running at limited capacity because of prevailing quarantine restrictions.

He also recognized that some employers already opted to advance the payouts of their workers’ 13th month pay as early as April during the height of the enhanced community quarantine where businesses ground to a halt to prevent spreading COVID-19 among the population.

Based on data submissions to the agency, DOLE reported that 225,643 workers from 13,127 establishments have been displaced from January this year to early October. 90 percent of establishments who reported to DOLE said it reduced its workforce, while the remaining 10 percent closed permanently.

Villanueva reiterated the importance of assisting MSMEs which will play a vital part in the recovery of the job market, pointing out that 99 percent of businesses fall under the category. MSMEs employ an estimated 5.7 million workers, according to data from the Department of Trade and Industry.

Establishing tripartite peace councils on national, regional or industrial levels are adopted as a state policy under Republic Act No. 10395. The council is empowered to consider and adopt “voluntary codes of principles designed to promote industrial peace based on social justice or to align labor movement relations with established priorities in economic and social development”.

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