TU seeks overhaul of Philippines labor code

May. 08, 2007

MANILA — Team Unity senatorial candidates are eyeing an overhaul of the labor code to keep it in tune with fast-paced technological developments that are reshaping the labor sector.

Veteran lawmaker and senatorial candidate Edgardo Angara said the Labor Code of the Philippines (Presidential Decree 442) has been in place since the martial law years and was originally designed to restrict labor unions.

Angara, who authored the Magna Carta for Public Health Workers, said in a radio interview that some provisions of the labor code are already outdated and needs updating through legislation.

He cited a provision in the law preventing women from working at night due to the harm it may do to female night workers.

“What would we do with the 200,000 women new graduates who work in call centers from 9 in the evening to 6 in the morning? Are we going to force them to close shop?” he said.

Angara added that working styles have also changed nowadays with some jobs not requiring employees to report to office eight hours a day and five days a week.

“Sometimes these workers could do the job in one day and in only three hours because they use their computer, the internet and they work inside their homes. Are we going to punish these people by only paying them for three hours of work?” he said.

Angara said updating the labor code would spur more jobs and globalize our employment regulations.

“We are now at an age where work is 24/7. Work does not solely come from the Philippines but around the world as evidenced by outsourcing centers. We need to adjust our labor regulations, making it flexi-time, to cope up with the fast changing world,” he said.

Angara said the apprenticeship system is also very strict, barring students from acquiring work experience at an early age.

“We need to formalize the apprenticeship system such that at the age of 15 or 16, they could acquire work experience,” he said.

Angara said updating labor laws should be matched by an upgrade in the educational system focusing on the demands being set by corporations.

“We lack skilled and educated manpower that’s why we need to speed up education and training leaders who could in turn train the youth and provide them jobs,” he said.

Earlier, Angara proposed the creation of a Congressional Commission for Labor to study in-depth the emerging labor trends and how labor has been affected by the sweeping changes in the employment landscape.

“There is entirely a new paradigm in the sector of labor and employment. We have to study this in-depth,” he said.###

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