PHILIPPINES: 4-day workweek ‘unhealthy’ – labor groups

Tuesday 7 October 2014

Date: 30 September 2014

Type: News

Source:Bulatlat.com

Keywords:Labor rights

The scheme will deny workers at least four days’ worth of salary in a month, in exchange for a dubious overtime pay, which may not adequately pay for their health care should they become sick or meet accidents due to fatigue.

By MARYA SALAMAT Bulatlat.com

MANILA — Workers from the public and private sectors opposed the Aquino government’s proposed four-day workweek saying this will not solve the problem of heavy traffic. On the contrary, they said, it is harmful to workers’ health, rights, livelihood and in the case of public sector employees, to public service.

In a statement, Ferdinand Gaite, national president of Confederation for Unity and Advancement of Government Employees (Courage), called the four-day workweek a proof of government incompetence in solving the traffic mess. “Instead of providing more efficient public mass transportation, the government is only passing the burden to the employees who will suffer from longer hours of work, more costly transportation fees during night time and more vulnerabilities for women employees,” Gaite said.

He warned that it is the public who will be deprived of government services in the long run. A memorandum circular issued recently by Dr Francisco Duque, chairman of the Civil Service Commission (CSC), gives government offices in Metro Manila the option to change their employees’ work schedule, to adopt an arrangement where their employees will work from Monday to Thursday or from Tuesday to Friday.

“The four-day workweek scheme is an alternative arrangement whereby the normal week is reduced to four days but the number of work hours per day in increased to 10 hours so that the total number of work hours per week remains at 40 hours,” Duque said.

The four-day workweek was first floated during the former administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, whose official reason for suggesting it was to save on power consumption in the face of the looming energy crisis at the time. Under President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, the four-day workweek is being adopted ostensibly to cope with worsening traffic woes. It covers government workers initially, but there are talks that it will also be extended to private-sector workers.

Government workers including those in government-owned or controlled corporations number to 3.053 million as of July this year. Workers in private establishments number 17.222 million.

Elmer “Bong” Labog, chairman of national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno, said in another statement that extending working hours from eight to 11 per day will pose more hazards to workers’ health and violate their rights to an eight-hour working day.

Labog said the scheme also puts at risk the earnings of workers who are paid on a daily basis and are subject to a “no work, no pay” policy.

The scheme will deny workers at least four days’ worth of salary in a month, in exchange for a dubious overtime pay, which may not adequately pay for their health care should they become sick or meet accidents due to fatigue.

The KMU called instead for an improvement in the country’s mass transport system to reduce the volume of private vehicles plying the streets, rather than implement a workweek scheme, which they have seen from experience as bad for workers’ health and income.###

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