Zamboanga City Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar and Zamboanga Ecozone Freeport Authority Chairman Christopher Lawrence S. Arnuco the other day jointly expressed gratitude to Labor and Employment Secretary Baldoz for declaring Zamboanga Ecozone Freeport Authority as a Labor Laws-Compliant economic zone, the 12th such to be declared, saying the move will put Zamboanga City at the focus of local and foreign investors.
“We are deeply gratified about this recognition. It will definitely enhance Zamboanga City’s image as an investment haven and this will be beneficial to our job seekers,” said Mayor Climaco-Salazar and Chairman Arnuco who both joined Secretary Baldoz in unveiling the labor laws-compliant marker at the gate of the zone in Brgy. San Ramon in the outskirts of the city.
Before the unveiling, Baldoz led in the awarding of Certificates of Compliance on General Labor Standards (GLS) and Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) to six ecozone locators, namely, Artnature Philippines, Inc.; Mi Casita Company, Inc.; AML Fastfood, Inc.; Seachamp International; CTK Asia Rubber Corporation; and San Miguel Foods, Inc. which have a combined 236 workers.
Likewise, Baldoz awarded COCs on General Labor Standards and Occupational Safety and Health to the locators’ service providers, namely, Helping Hands Development Cooperative; Leadership Manpower Services; Gabmar Manpower Agency, Inc.; Ascent Feed Specialist, Inc. whose total combined employment reaches 682 workers.
Another company outside the zone, Big Fish Food Corporation, with a total of 521 workers also received a CoC on GLS and OSH from Baldoz during the program.
She also handed out COC on Labor Relations (LR) to the Katipunan Bank, Inc. based in Dipolog, together with its four branches; Prudential Customs Brokerage Services, Inc.; Saint Vincent’s College; Rural Bank of Rizal; and Century Pacific Food Corporation, all of which provide employment to 1,044 workers; and awarded Tripartite Certificates of Compliance with Labor Standards (TCCLS) and Child Labor Free Establishment (CLFE) Certificates to the Katipunan Bank, Inc. and its four service providers; Montano Foods Corporation and its service provider; Montano Construction and Development Corporation and its service provider; Goldstar Seafoods Corporation and its three service providers; and Big Fish Corporation. Together, these companies and their service providers employ 1,686 workers.
Also during the award ceremony, Secretary Baldoz recognized and awarded plaques to six regional nominees for the National Wages and Productivity Commission’s 2015 Productivity Olympics. These companies are Myler Agribusiness; Sungate Pawnshop; Dennis Hardware; Montano Foods Corporation; Katipunan Bank; and Rural Bank of Rizal. These regional nominees will undergo evaluation in July and the winner will qualify to vie for the national award this October.
For the first time in Western Mindanao, Secretary Baldoz expounded on the first-year accomplishments of the LLCS, a flagship reform program of the DOLE, and informed her audience about the developmental aspects of the reform.
“Alam po ninyo, ang LLCS ay isa sa mga reporma na itinakda ng ating Pangulong Benigno S. Aquino III. May utos po siya sa DOLE na siguraduhing naipatutupad ang lahat ng batas paggawa; gawing madali para sa mga negosyo ang tuparin ang mga ito; at siguraduhin na hindi pabigat o hadlang ang pagtupad sa mga batas paggawa sa pagne-negosyo upang lalong makalikha ng de-kalidad na trabaho,” she said.
“Dati po, minsan lamang kada ika-16 na taon nabibisita o nai-inspeksyon ang mga kumpanya kung tumutupad sa mga batas paggawa. Sa bago pong sistema, kada ika-2 taon na po ang joint assessment sa bawat kumpanya na isasagawa ng kabuuang 574 LLCOs. Sa dati pong sistema, 23 lamang ang batas paggawa na naipatutupad; ngayon po, ipinatutupad na ang 94 na batas na sakop ng Labor Code. Maliban sa pasahod, overtime pay, holiday pay, at iba pang monetary benefits, ang lahat ng decent work indicators, batas para sa mga marino (MLC, 2006), batas para sa mga contractors (DOLE DO18-A), alituntunin para sa kaligtasan at kalusugan ng mga manggagawa sa lugar ng trabaho (OSHS), mga regulasyon para sa mga recruiter ng OFWs at pagbabayad ng premium sa SSS, PhilHealth, at Pag-Ibig ay sakop na ng LLCS,” she related.
“We have even changed the job title of labor inspectors. Ngayon po ay Labor Laws Compliance Officers (LLCOs) naang noon ay tinatawag na Labor Inspectors ng DOLE,” she enthused.
Baldoz said that in the last decade, only about 24,000 establishments were inspected annually, compared to the 76,880 establishments that have been assessed in 2014, the first year of the LLCS. On compliance, she reported:
“Dati po, umaabot lang sa 65 percent ang compliance rate sa GLS; sa bagong sistema tumaas ito sa 76.61 percent, kung saan pinakamataas ang compliance rate sa mga batas ukol sa premium pay for rest day, night shift differential, weekly rest period, child labor law, at separation pay (95-99 percent). Sumunod dito ang compliance sa PhilHealth, SSS, holiday pay, 13th month pay, at overtime pay (90-94 percent). Umabot naman sa 86-89 percent ang compliance sa PAG-IBIG at minimum wage,” she further narrated.
“Kung noon ay hirap makapasok sa kumpanya ang mga inspector ng DOLE dahil sa kanilang police mentality, ngayon napakalaking bilang na ng mga kumpanya ang bukas ang pinto na tinatanggap ang LLCOs dahil ipinapaliwanag sa kanila, at tinutulungan sila ng mga ito, kung paano maging compliant sa pamamagitan ng libreng tulong ng DOLE,” she added.
She also emphasized that the DOLE has clarified the rules on sub-contracting, resulting to the levelling of the playing field for establishments allowed to engage in sub-contracting business.
“Noon po, naglipana ang fly-by-night contractors na kahit walang sapat na kapital at kagamitan ay nakakapagnegosyo. Ngayon, dahil sa reporma ng D.O. 18-A at LLCS nawala ang malaking bilang ng 18,000 contractors, at ngayon ay 4,975 na lang ang rehistrado sa DOLE at itinuturing natin na lehitimo.”
“Kung noon ay nagagamit ang apprenticeship, seasonal employment, “5-5-5”, at “endo” practices ng mga principal employers at contractors upang iwasan ang regularization ng employment, sa bagong sistema ay nakikipagtulungan ang kumpanya at contractors sa pagbuo at pagpapatupad ng corrective plan of action para baguhin at itama ang maling patakaran, at bayaran ang anumang benepisyo ng apektadong manggagawa. Nitong nakaraang taon, P173,376,776.81 halaga ng benepisyo ang tinanggap ng 207,307 na manggagawa matapos ang pagtatama ng mga kakulangan sa pasahod at iba pang benepisyo,” she proudly stated.
She cited the case of the fishing and fish canning industry in Western Mindanao, where she said four large fishing and canning companies, namely, Aquatic Food Manufacturing Corporation, Permex Producer and Exporter Corporation, Ayala Seafoods Corporation, and Universal Canning Corporation, converted 1,184 apprentices into seasonal regular workers after the joint assessment under the LLCS. She urged other similar companies to follow their examples, saying it is good for business to comply with all labor laws and occupational safety and health standards.
Engr. Eduardo Rivero, Jr., President, Zamboanga Peninsula OSHNet; Engr. George G. Ledesma, Vice Chairman for Management, Regional Tripartite Industrial Peace Council; Jose J. Suan, Vice Chairman for Labor, Regional Tripartite Industrial Peace Council joined Secretary Baldoz during the marker’s unveiling, together with Sisinio Cano, DOLE Regional Office No. 9 Regional Director and his assistant regional director Yahya Centi; regional heads of the member-agencies of the DOLE Regional Coordinating Council; and the locators of the zone.
The Zamboanga Ecozone Freeport Authority is the 12th ecozone, and the second in Mindanao, to have a labor laws compliant marker. The 11 others are (1) Hacienda Luisita Industrial Park; (2) Phividec Industrial Park; (3) Mactan Export Processing Zone II; (4) Cebu Light Industrial Park; (5) Baguio Economic Zone; (6) Cagayan Economic Zone; (7) Freeport Area of Bataan; (8) PAFC Petrochemical Industrial Park; (9) Hermosa Industrial Park; (10) TIPCO Estate Corporation Special Economic Zone; and (11) Angeles Industrial Park, Inc.