Bello plays Santa to underpaid guards
Three security guards showed up at the house of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Christmas Eve to ask for gifts.
They got more than what they wished for.
More than anything, their sad story—of not receiving their 13th month pay and minimum wage pay from their security agency—moved Bello to action.
After his serendipitous encounter with the unpaid guards, Bello ordered labor department officials to “inspect” Marban Security Agency which, he said, was owned by a Quezon City councilor.
He did not name the councilor.
Bello ended up playing Santa to the guards, who were detailed at his subdivision.
13th month pay
It all began when the guards came knocking at his door for some present, either in cash or in kind.
“But then I casually asked them: ‘Did you get your 13th month pay?’ You know the three told me, ‘It’s not enough, Sir,” Bello told reporters in a Malacañang briefing on Thursday.
“In other words, it’s not the mandated 13th month pay. And then I asked them, ‘Did they pay you the right salary?’ and then they said, ‘Sir, no Sir.’”
Bello said he was disheartened on hearing that the guards were paid only a daily minimum wage of P270.
“And they are guards working for more than eight hours. It’s not only [underpayment] because the minimum wage today is P537. That’s taking advantage of them,” the secretary said, referring to Marban.
Comply with labor laws
Bello, whose department regularly reminds employers to pay their employees proper holiday wages, appealed to the owner of the security agency to comply with labor laws.
“Do your obligation, pay your workers before I … I cannot say ‘I will kill you,’ but I really feel bad for [the guards],” he said.
The story about the guards cropped up when Bello was asked in the briefing if the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) received any report of violation on the payment of the 13th month pay.
The secretary said he did not get any report, except for Marban.
The Dole has said that every rank and file employee in the private sector should be given 13th month pay as long as they have worked for at least one month in a year. The pay should be given by Dec. 24.
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