Women workers call for maternity leave ‘for all’

Mar. 05, 2016
womens devt fair

Women from various communities in Davao City availed of the free services in a health fair held in May last year. (davaotoday.com file photo)

DAVAO CITY — Militant labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno said all women workers should have maternity leave benefits.

Women workers picketed the Labor Department’s main office in Intramuros, Manila on Friday, March 4 to press for maternity leave for all workers, which they say can only be possible if contractualization is stopped as an employment scheme.

Nitz Gonzaga, KMU vice-chairperson said “while the Senate’s effort to pass a bill increasing the 60-78-day maternity leave last January 18 is salutary, most workers do not enjoy maternity leaves because they are considered contractuals.”

Gonzaga said many women workers, especially in export-processing zones and the service sector, complain that being pregnant means getting laid off from work or simply being allowed to go absent from work without receiving any pay.

Gonzaga said with contractualization in place, it seems women contractual workers are not allowed to get pregnant.

“We are glad that measures are being taken to increase the days that women workers are allowed to go on maternity leave. These measures, however, will mean nothing to the majority of the country’s workers, if they remain contractuals,” said Gonzaga.

The Senate passed the Expanded Maternity Leave Law of 2015 in order to comply with the International Labor Organization’s standard of a 100-day maternity leave, while maintaining the provision that workers will get no less than 2/3 of their regular monthly wages.

“While laws guarantee contractuals’ right to maternity leave, the fact that contractuals can easily be removed from work legally and without repercussions has allowed capitalists to cut costs for pregnant workers,” added Gonzaga.

The Labor Code outlaws labor-only contracting, but allows the Labor Secretary to issue guidelines as to how companies can carry out job contracting legally. The present guidelines on contractualization is contained in Department Order No. 18-A Series of 2011. (davaotoday.com)

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