MMDA seeks to defend minimum wage for bus drivers, conductors at Supreme CourtBy Nathaniel R. Melican
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines — The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) is considering intervening in a Supreme Court case questioning the legality of a Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) order providing fixed wages for public utility bus drivers and conductors.
In a statement, MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said the agency has been considering filing a petition for intervention at the Supreme Court in the case filed by several bus operators in Luzon.
“Due to the recent high incidence of road accidents brought about by bad weather, it is high time to implement the said order that will do away with the ‘boundary system’,” Tolentino said.
In their petition, the Provincial Bus Operators Association of the Philippines, Southern Luzon Bus Operators Association, Inc., Inter City Bus Operators Association and the City of San Jose Del Monte Bus Operators Association jointly asked the high court, on Wednesday, to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the implementation of DOLE Order 118-12 and Memorandum Circular 2012-001, which ordered bus operators to give fixed wages for drivers and conductors, replacing the so-called “boundary” or commission system that has been in place for years.
The four groups claimed that the two measures, which took effect on July 1 in Metro Manila, violated their companies’ various agreements with their employees.
However, Tolentino claimed that only the law could determine the existence of employer-employee relationship, and it cannot be negated by any contract.
“The 1987 Constitution provides that the State shall afford full protection to labor and guarantees the right of workers to humane conditions of work and a living wage. The Labor Code laid down the guidelines in determining the existence of employer-employee relationship,” he said.
Tolentino asserted that the high court already ruled on previous cases deeming bus drivers as regular employees.
“They are, therefore, entitled to minimum wage and other benefits,” he added.
The MMDA expects that the measure will lessen bus-related accidents, which involve drivers and conductors racing to meet their boundary or the required minimum earning of a bus per day.
MMDA records show bus-related incidents in Metro Manila numbered to 5,103 in 2009, 6,749 in 2010, and 6,176 in 2011.
Tolentino made the comments a day after a Don Mariano Bus rammed the railings of the Ortigas flyover on the southbound lane of EDSA on Wednesday afternoon, injuring at least 10 people and damaging the railings of the flyover.
Meanwhile, traffic was snarled along EDSA-Magallanes after six vehicles, including one bus, figured in a pile-up at the Magallanes Interchange in Makati on Thursday morning.
Initial investigation revealed that at around 7 a.m., the air-conditioned Cher bus involved in the incident lost its brake as it took the interchange and headed towards the direction of Alabang in Muntinlupa.
The bus collided with two taxis, two cars, and an FX in the flyover. It took an hour before the vehicles were cleared off the ramp.
Tags: bus conductors , courts , drivers , franchises , Francis Tolentino , Judiciary , Labor , litigation , Metropolitan Manila Development Authority , Minimum Wage , MMDA , News , public transportation , public utility buses , Supreme Court , trials