DOLE encourages bilateral agreements on workers’ benefits
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) prefers that companies and employees enter into bilateral agreements regarding work benefits.
Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma said this at a Senate hearing on Thursday after Senate Minority Leader Aqulino “Koko” Pimentel questioned the measly P40 daily minimum pay hike recently granted to private sector workers in Metro Manila.
“In fact, mas gusto po namin ngang e-encourage na bilateral agreement ang mga benipisyo e dahil mismong mga manggagawa at ang mamumuhunan ang nakakalaam kung ano kalagayan ng kompanya. Hindi na natin pag uusapan kung ano ang general consequences,” he said, when Senator Nancy Binay asked for data of companies that are paying way above the minimum wage.
(In fact, we encourage a bilateral agreement for benefits because both workers and investors are the ones who know the company’s situation. We don’t need to discuss the general consequences anymore.)
The labor chief noted that there are companies that already have collective bargaining agreements and they are registered in the bureau of labor relations.
Before this, Pimentel confronted labor officials regarding the recent wage increase that took effect last month.
The minority leader believes it is high time that Congress passes a legislated wage increase.
“I’ll try to convince my colleagues in the Senate that it’s time for Congress to act…” he said.
This was seconded by Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda who was presiding over the hearing of the Senate subcommittee on finance.
“I agree with you, I think of all us are in agreement that we must act quick, fast to legislate the increase in the minimum wage of our workers,” Legarda said.
Laguesma explained that the minimum wage is determined and decided by a tripartite body—not by government—based on inputs and recommendations from stakeholders.
Nevertheless, the labor chief recognized the authority of Congress to pass a legislated wage increase.
“Ang tungkulin po ng executive department ay magpatupad kung meron na pong batas irrespective po kung ano po ang nakita nating possible consequences dun po sa mga tina-target natim na benepesyaryo,” he pointed out.
(The role of the executive department is to implement once there is a law, irrespective of whatever possible consequences we see for the targeted beneficiaries.)
“But let me also make it very clear that we share concerns like really uplifting the conditions of the workers but it’s really something which we have to balance to ensure that as we try to address and provide social protection to vulnerable sectors, we are able to compliment this with countryside development…” the labor chief added.
But Pimentel asked: On the need to balance, shall we consciously violate the Constitution?
According to him, the Constitution clearly states that workers are entitled to living wage.
Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri later told reporters that he would push for the passage of a legislate wage increase in the Senate before the year ends.