Baldoz upbeat on progress of labor reforms
As DOLE welcomes JFC’s 3rd Arangkada Philippines assessment

Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz, joined by her team of undersecretaries, assistant secretaries, and heads of bureaus, services, and attached agencies, yesterday expressed confidence after the Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) of the Philippines, in a meeting at the DOLE, commended the Department’s performance on its Arangkada Philippines Report.

“The results of the assessment reflect the DOLE’s relentless efforts in translating into action its firm and continuing commitment to carry out reforms in labor governance to help make the Philippines a highly-competitive and inclusive platform for human resource development and global business environment,” Baldoz said.

The JFC is composed of the American, Australian-New Zealand, Canadian, European, Japanese, and Korean chambers of commerce in the Philippines, as well as the Philippine Association of Multinational Headquarters, Inc., or PAMURI.

It evaluates and rates yearly government agencies, including the DOLE, on their action and performance on the issues and recommendations relative to their respective mandates as a way of encouraging “arangkada” performance. These evaluation and recommendations are collected and published in the Arangkada Philippines Report, which was first published in December 2010.

Secretary Baldoz reported to the JFC members the progress and accomplishment of the DOLE’s responses to the nine labor and employment issues/recommendations the JFC raised in the previous year.
On these 9 issues/recommendations, the JFC gave the DOLE six stars on its completed action towards increased competitiveness, particularly in allowing firms providing same day services to overseas clients to provide employees, who have to work on Philippine holidays, substitute days off with pay in lieu of paying holiday premium (Recommendation No.3).

“The report highlighted the DOLE’s issuance of Labor Advisory No. 2, series of 2009 allowing flexible work arrangements, such as compressed work week, reduction of working days, rotation of workers, forced leave, broken time schedule, and flexi-holiday schedule,” Baldoz said.

On this score, the JFC also cited the issuance of DOLE Labor Advisory No. 1 which provided question-and-answer guidelines on the payment of wages and related issues on work suspension due to calamities.

The DOLE received five stars–which means substantial progress–for making wage increase consistent with inflation and productivity (Recommendation No. 4) and for modernizing the 36-year old Labor Code to end the disadvantage it creates for the Philippines with regional competitors (Recommendation No. 1). Both issues/recommendations showed an improved rating from its previous four-star mark in 2012.

The recommendation of maintaining the low level of labor disruption of business operations through good communications and cooperation between labor and management and allowing self-regulation of companies (Recommendation No. 8), and improving the speed and fairness in its adjudication of labor cases before the National Labor Relations Commission (Recommendation No. 9), remained on a “substantial progress” status with five stars.

And for having “started” work/reforms to further narrow the skills-jobs mismatch and ensure the harnessing of skills needed for the Seven Big Winner sectors (Recommendation No. 5), alongside with increased interaction between the TESDA and the private sector, the JFC awarded the Department four stars.

To support the rating, Baldoz reported the progress of the JobStart Philippines Program, the employment facilitation initiative to address youth unemployment in the country. It is part of the Technical Assistance Program on Employment Facilitation for Inclusive Growth (EFIG), a synergy between the DOLE, Asian Development Bank (ADB), and the Government of Canada that seeks to pave the way for necessary reforms needed to make the country’s labor market more pragmatic, responsive, and attuned to the demands of the global economy.

The JFC gave two stars for the DOLE’s response on Recommendation No. 2 to rationalize holidays to approach ASEAN average of 15 paid holidays a year, although it cited the DOLE’s consistent advocacy to maintain existing regular holidays to 12 and special days to three; to create million of new, higher-quality jobs through increased investments (Recommendation No. 6); and to develop package of incentives to attract manufacturers relocating from China (Recommendation No. 7).

AmCham Senior Adviser and Committee Chair on Legislations John Forbes; AmCham Committee Chair on Labor Ernie Cecilia; ANZCham Executive Director Ryan Evangelista; ECCP President Michael Raeuber;  and JCCIPI Vice President Nobuo Fujii took turns in discussing and evaluating the DOLE’s responses to the JFC recommendations.

Secretary Baldoz expressed thanks to the JFC for a fair assessment, saying the results were instructive. It also assured the JFC of its continuing commitment to the DOLE reform agenda.

“The DOLE’s regular dialogue with JFC only shows our long-term commitment to implement reforms with our tripartite partners toward Philippines’s global competitiveness. These assessment and recommendations will guide our actions and will set the direction for the continuous and consistent reforms we have been undertaking since 2010. We take these things seriously just like what we always do when our tripartite partners have something to share with us that can help create a better investment climate in the country which, in turn, will lead to generation of decent and productive jobs,” Baldoz said.

END/Krs

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