Monday, September 05, 2011

Philippine labor group rejects proposed 4-day work week

MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Sept. 5, 2011) – A Philippine labor group has flatly rejected a proposal to cut working days from five days to only four, but longer by two hours a day.

The Kilusang Mayo Uno said the proposal by Quezon City Congressman Winston Castelo would only mean less income for workers under the present employment situation in the country.

Castelo’s “Four-Day Work Week Act of 2011” seeks to achieve a “work-life balance” for workers and to lessen their spending for food and transportation.

“Under present circumstances, a four-day work week will not help Filipino workers achieve a balance between work and life. The fact that many companies, especially in so-called special economic zones, are implementing this scheme on their own shows that workers will lose more than gain from this,” Elmer Labog, KMU chairperson, said.

He said a four-hour workday will only bring about a loss of income for many of our workers who are not paid when they do not report for work. “There won’t be enough rest for workers either because they will be made to work for longer hours – which will cause a greater amount of physical stress.”

“On the one hand, implementing a four-day work week will legitimize similar schemes that are already in place. On the other hand, it won’t do anything to stop employers from forcing employees to work on weekends, a phenomenon which is already widespread at present,” he said.

KMU said what Filipino workers want is the strict observation of the eight-hour work day and a significant wage increase as an immediate relief for workers’ families who have been suffering from low wages and high prices.

“In so-called special economic zones and for contractual workers who compose the majority of the country’s workers, the eight-hour work day is a thing of the past. Capitalists have continuously attacked the eight-hour work day and have revived the most barbaric working conditions reminiscent of capitalism’s early stages when workers still have to unite to fight for their rights,” Labog said.

“We want the eight-hour work day strictly enforced. We also want a significant wage increase to be legislated, for we want immediate relief from rising prices and low wages – a relief that comes from the value that we create as toiling masses,” he added.

KMU also criticized the Employers’ Confederation of the Philippines’ reaction to the bill, saying the employers’ group is opposing the measure for the wrong reasons in alluding to the so-called “fiesta and siesta mentality” of Filipinos.

“It is not the Filipino workers who are enjoying fiesta and siesta under the current system; it is the capitalists, especially the big and foreign ones. That Filipino workers are not working hard enough is a big lie being used by capitalists to prolong working hours and press down workers’ wages,” Labog said.

“ECOP is making a big fuss out of paid holidays when most capitalists are not even giving that to their employees. Workers are working hard – too hard, in fact – compared with the pitiful compensation that they are receiving from the country’s greedy capitalists,” he added. (Mindanao Examiner)

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