DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the workers protection desk of Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) in Southern Mindanao has been receiving complaints with an average of three workers seeking assistance on unjust labor practices every week.
But the numbers of complaints were much higher when lockdown were imposed last year based on the labor group’s records aside from the complaints on red-tagging and harassment against workers. In its records, nearly 300 workers from the agri-business, services and distribution sector complained on illegal dismissal and other unjust labor practices.
This has continued to these days with KMU getting these kinds of complaints and facilitating the filing of cases before the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in Davao region.
KMU-SMR spokesperson John Paul Dizon told Davao Today that workers were dismissed citing the narrative of ‘’having been affected by the pandemic,’’ yet these companies have not stopped with their operations amid enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) that put workers in difficult situation to get to their workplace.
‘’Most of the complaints filed were sudden termination from work and irregularities with mandated benefits such as no payment on overtime work and problems on remittances of SSS, PhilHealth and Pag-ibig contributions,’’ said Dizon.
Davao City Councilor Pamela Librado-Morata, chair of the Committee on Labor in the 19th City Council, also received similar complaints in her office.
Workers protection ordinance
Librado-Morata said dozens of workers sought for her assistance after they were terminated from work because of this global health crisis.
The councilor held consultations last year to know the plight of the workers in the city. The consultations revealed the same complaints lodged at KMU-SMR help desk. The consultations yielded to the creation of the Workers Protection Ordinance which was approved in its final reading on May 11.
The ordinance will create the Davao City Workers Protection and Development Office to promote the rights of workers, encourage decent employment opportunities and enhance the social protection for workers.
The said ordinance will also create the Davao City Workers Council which will supervise the Barangay Employment Service Desk to include organizing a network of volunteer lawyers and paralegals to assist and provide free legal services to workers seeking legal support.
“This legislation applies to all workers, whether residents of Davao City or not, and all employers whose places of business is found within the territorial jurisdiction of the City Government and also those workers assigned outside the city but the main/head office is located in Davao City,” said Librado-Morata in a statement sent to Davao Today.
The councilor’s move gained support from the progressive labor group for upholding the workers’ rights and welfare.
KMU-SMR hopes that this new legislation which provides additional venue for workers to get legal assistance when filing complaints against their employers and for workers to access programs and projects of the city government will somehow ease the burdens of workers.
‘’We thanked the office of Councilor Paming Librado for leading in the creation of this ordinance that promotes for the protection of the basic interest of the workers in Davao City,’’ said Dizon.