MANILA – Labor leaders want local government units nationwide to help raise the business sector's compliance with Philippine labor laws.
"LGUs shouldn't issue business permits unless establishments applying for these comply with such laws including those on wages," Lakas Manggagawa Labor Center Secretary-General Terry Tuazon said.
He was speaking on the side of Saturday Forum @ Annabel's in Quezon City as the country's labor groups prepare to mark Filipino hero Andres Bonifacio's 149th birthday Nov. 30 this year with mass action for better labor conditions nationwide.
He said LGUs must require an establishment's business permit application to include certification of compliance with the country's labor laws so authorities concerned can verify such claim and act accordingly if proven untrue.
"There must be an audit by LGUs and the labor department's inspectors," he said.
National Labor Union president Dave Diwa supports the bid for stricter monitoring as he said the business sector's compliance with labor laws is "almost nil."
He also noted the labor department lacks personnel tasked with monitoring compliance, making it difficult to enforce labor laws.
"There are about 800,000 small, medium and large business establishments nationwide and only about 200 inspectors so LGUs should step into the picture to make enforcement localized," he said.
Kilusang Mayo Uno national chairperson Elmer Labog echoed his colleagues' call for stricter monitoring, noting workers nationwide continue suffering from below-cost of living wages.
"A study shows the Philippines is the world's third top nation with the lowest wages," he said.
He noted the present-day daily minimum wage of PhP426 is lower than the PhP993 cost of living allowance indicated in non-government organization Ibon Foundation's research findings.
"The Constitution says our workers are entitled to receive living wages," he said.
Labog said women workers are particularly in a disadvantaged position.
"Majority of them receive wages and benefits that are much less than what their male counterparts receive," he said.
Even workers in the country's export processing zones aren't spared from below-cost of living wages, Labog noted.
"They mostly toil in sweatshops which manufacture clothing products of several international brands," he said.
Tuazon said among the brands are Guess, Ralph Lauren and Gap.
Labor contractualization is compounding workers' problems, Labog continued.
He's calling on Congress to hold public hearings on contractualization.
Such labor practice must stop since it denies workers their security of tenure and benefits due under the law, he said.
Wages and contractualization will be among concerns labor groups will raise anew during the planned mass action in Metro Manila next week.*PNA