Bello bares 8-point labor and employment agenda

Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III yesterday revealed his initial Eight-Point Platform and Policy Agenda to ensure inclusive development, prosperity, and labor justice for Filipino workers and their families.

"Some aspects of the DOLE's initial eight-point platform and policy agenda are yet in broadstrokes, or a work in progress, while some require specific and immediate action," said Bello.

"The Eight-Point Labor and Employment Agenda is the contribution of the Department to help achieve President Rodrigo R. Duterte's overall vision for our workers and their families, as well as for employers. President Duterte has vowed to transform the bureaucracy into an honest, efficient, effective, transparent, and accessible institution that is subservient to the Filipino people," he added.

Secretary Bello added that the Eight-Point Platform and Policy Agenda is anchored on the promotion of employment and human resource development; ensuring workers' protection and welfare; and promotion of a sound, stable, and dynamic industrial peace as a shared responsibility of our social partners.

To carry out President Duterte's marching order, DOLE's service, projects, and program will be anchored on the Eight-Point Labor and Employment Agenda.

The first item in the Eight-Point Labor and Employment Agenda is to continuously enhance and transform DOLE into an efficient, responsive, purposeful, and accountable institution.

"We will start with keeping our house in order, and positioning it to meet present and future challenges. To jump-start the review process, I have directed all agencies to identify and submit the transactions and processes under each of the programs they are currently implementing, and to indicate the process cycle times and accountable officers involved in completing these transactions. As our President has committed, we will ensure that to the fullest extent possible, all transactions shall be completed or acted upon within 72 hours," said Bello.

He added that the Department will make sure that existing DOLE help desks/public assistance desks, as well as quick reaction teams in all offices, are capable to be the first line of action in implementing the 72-hour transaction cycle, in responding to complaints involving violation of laws and corruption in all agencies.

"The second item in our labor and employment agenda is to address the persistent problems of unemployment and underemployment. We know the causes are inadequate employment opportunities, mismatches between skills and jobs, and limited access to labor market information.

Bello noted that while the private sector is primarily responsible for generating employment, the DOLE is mandated to help increase the capacity of the economy to produce goods and services with an adequate and steady supply and movement of skilled and trained human resources.

"The third item in our agenda is to ensure full respect of labor standards and the fundamental principles and rights at work. The Department is mandated to protect and respect all rights at work as a precondition for promoting decent work. We expect employers to do the same, ideally in a voluntary manner," said Bello.

However, Bello clarified that inspection will remain to be the main program of the Department through enforcement of the workers' rights in enforcing these rights, with compliance as its outcome.

Included in this outcome is the reduction of 'endo', or illegitimate contractualization, by 50 percent and its abolishment by 2017. "DOLE is committed to strictly and equitably implement the law on security of tenure, and will use the full extent of its regulatory and enforcement power to stop or prevent practices that circumvent it, especially practices like labor-only contracting," Bello said.

"The fourth item in the agenda is to continuously strengthen protection and security of our overseas Filipino workers. The ultimate policy goal of President Duterte is to create an environment that will generate enough decent and adequately remunerated work for every Filipino here in our own country so that no one will have to seek overseas work as a matter of compulsion or necessity," said Bello.

The fifth item in the Labor and Employment Agenda, according to Secretary Bello, is to bring more focus and accessibility in workers' protection and welfare programs. "Our main involvement in social protection has to do with programs, premised on the existence of employee-employer relationships. The conventional mechanisms are social security, health, employees' compensation and housing. We should therefore focus on these areas by seeking to address the problems of access to programs, adequacy of benefits, source of funding, and sustainability of the social insurance systems. Moving beyond the short-term, we should be actively engaged in the policy processes involving emerging issues like unemployment insurance and the establishment of a social protection floor," said Bello.

"The sixth item in our agenda is to achieve a sound, dynamic, and stable industrial peace with free and democratic participation of workers and employers in policy and decision-making processes affecting them," said Bello.

He disclosed that DOLE will ensure an active, functional, and mutually beneficial social partnership between workers and employers, develop means to enhance collective bargaining and other forms of labor-management participation within and outside enterprises, and reconstitute tripartite bodies and other mechanisms for tripartism and social dialogue.

"The seventh item in our agenda is to have a labor dispute resolution system that ensures just, simplified, and expeditious resolution of all labor disputes," said Bello.

As part of the strategy to achieve this agenda, Secretary Bello has already directed all labor dispute resolution and settlement agencies to submit their respective plans of action in reducing and eventually eliminating case backlogs.

He also called on a review of the various rules of procedure for simplification and adoption of summary procedures for certain cases.

"And finally, the eighth item in our agenda is to have responsive, enabling, and equitable labor policies, laws, and regulations," said Bello, adding that the Eight-Point Labor and Employment Agenda will ensure that DOLE will be an enabler for work creation and protector of workers' rights.

Source: Philippine Information Agency