DOLE poised to back 4-day workweek bill
MANILA, Philippines – Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III said his agency is keen on supporting the bill that will compress the number of working days from 5 to 4.
"We had a meeting, the senior officials, yesterday, and we came up with a consensus. We are inclined to favor the proposed bill," Bello said in a chance interview on Wednesday, August 30.
"There were already department orders [issued] before, allowing [flexible time] for work, so we are adapting the same position. But it is still dependent on what the labor and management [sectors] will tell us tomorrow," he added.
Representatives from the labor and the management sectors will meet with Bello on Thursday, August 31, to discuss their position on House Bill (HB) 6152 or the 4-day workweek proposal.
The measure was approved on 3rd and final reading in the House of Representatives on August 24, while the Senate will tackle its own version of the bill in September.
Under HB 6152, employees may be allowed to work for a minimum of 4 days in a week but for more than 8 hours in a day. Should an employee go beyond 48 hours of work in a week, he or she is entitled to overtime pay.
The measure has been met with reservations by both workers and employers.
The Federation of Free Workers (FFW) reiterated its earlier stance that the proposal contradicts International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 1, which sets the number of work hours to 8 hours per day or a maximum of 48 hours in a week. (READ: 4-day workweek bad for workers' health, productivity – labor group)
"Why not shorten the hours of work instead, from 8 to 6 hours like in France and other Scandinavian countries?" the group said in a statement.
"We oppose increasing the regular 8-hour work a day as it can take a toll [on] majority of our workers. It would not be good [for] the health and safety of workers who do the heavy muscle work in construction and jobs that rely on physical stamina," added the group's president, Sonny Matula.
Left-leaning labor union Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), meanwhile, said the compressed work schedule would lead to a form of slavery.
"A compressed workweek scheme will take us back to the dark days of slave labor. This scheme only aims to cut capitalists' labor costs while siphoning greater profits by subjecting workers to greater exploitation and slave-like working conditions," said KMU chairperson Elmer Labog.
Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) chairman Donald Dee echoed the workers' response to the measure. He said that this, coupled with the heavy traffic in Metro Manila, would limit the workers' time with their families.
"What time do they have for their kids who are already asleep when they go home, who are still asleep when they leave the home?" he said in an interview on ANC's Market Edge. – Rappler.com