DAVAO CITY, Philippines—A bill allowing a four-day work week but increasing the number of normal work hours per day was opposed by a labor union viewing it as “plainly pro-business and pro-capitalist.”

House Bill 6152 gives options for companies to increase the normal working hours from the regular eight-hour workday to a 10 or 12-hour workday to lessen the number of days at work.

Once an employee worked beyond the prescribed 48 hours a week based on the labor code, he or she is subject to overtime pay. The House of Representatives approved the bill on third and final reading on August 21.

The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) said the bill is “retrogressive and in fact, silent about the so-called detrimental effects that extended hours have on employees’ health and well-being”.

“HB 6152 is retrogressive because it backpedals the gain of workers struggle that catapulted the more than century-old International Labor Standards and the Philippine law stipulating that eight (8) hours/day is the normal working hours,” the group said in a statement Friday.

While the bill sounds enticing, CTHUR branded the compressed workweek bill as “deceptive” because it would have a negative impact on the basic needs of the workers.

“It is also deceptive as it completely ignored the fact that workers and their families have to eat and to support household expenses, even on rest days and income reduction will negatively impact on family basic needs,” it said.

Mark Lawrence Gomez, 25, an employee working in a mall, also opposed the passage of bill because it does not give the workers the assurance of higher wages unless they go beyond the prescribed normal hours.

“I am against it. The issue is not just the number of working hours but most importantly, the wage that it should be higher. The bill’s intent is just temporary and will have a minimal effect on the plight of the workers,” Gomez told DavaoToday in an interview.

In a press release, Gabriela Rep. Emmi de Jesus said the bill would result in “longer hours of work per day, increase incidence of Endo or contractualization, and will have downward implications on workers’ take-home pay.”

“This will mean drastically shifting work schedules for workers as companies try to shuffle in more contractual workers into the production cycle. In fact this is already being done in many manufacturing firms in economic zones,” De Jesus, a former labor organizer, added.

HB 6152 seeks to amend Articles 83, 87 and 91 of the Labor Code of the Philippines. The original bill filed by Baguio City Representative Mark Go under HB 5068. (davaotoday.com)

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