DOLE-CARAGA settles labor case through Skype online; 13 workers benefit P1.3 million from settlement

Date Posted: September 29th, 2011 12:00 AM

Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday announced a first in the history of the DOLE: it conciliated and settled a labor complaint using the 30-day Single-Entry Approach mechanism (SENA) online.

Citing a report of Regional Director Ofelia Domingo of the DOLE-CARAGA, Baldoz said the conciliation and settlement was achieved by the DOLE Surigao del Norte Field Office in Surigao City whose single-entry approach desk officer (SEADO), Verlan Diaz, utilized the Internet-based Skype facility in effecting the settlement of the complaint of 13 workers against their employer, Surigao Marine Products, Inc.

The SENA, online-settled complaint resulted to a payment of P1,347,022.74 in terms of separation pay and other benefits due them, the highest SENA settlement thus far in the CARAGA region.

“I congratulate the DOLE-CARAGA, especially Mr.Verlan Diaz for this achievement. The online settlement was one of the most innovative ways of handling cases through the SENA and certainly lines it up as a best practice that other regional officesought to consider and emulate,” said Baldoz upon receiving Director Domingo’s report.

Director Domingo narrated that sometime in July after Surigao Marine Products, Inc. ceased operating, Joselito P. Macabuhay and 12 other workers went to the DOLE’s Surigao del Norte Field Office in Surigao City to get advice on how to claim their separation pay and other benefits from the company.

The DOLE field office advised the workers to senda letter to the management, but the workers did not heed the advice and instead went back to formally file a complaint.

“At ahearing on 01 August, the complainants particularly contested that their case will not prosper with the representation of Perlita R. Damacino, SUMAPI branch manager, as she was alleged could not make any decision for and on behalf of the company without first consulting the top management at the head office,” said Director Domingo.

“Besides, Ms.Damacino also explained that she, too, is a party-in-fact in the complaint, claiming the same benefits the 13 workers are trying to work out. They insisted that the right person to represent the company is Atty. Zosimo L. Padro Jr., SUMAPI Vice President and Controller,” added the regional labor official.

Right there and then, the workers tried to contact Atty. Padroonly to learn that he was in Manila. Realizing that available technology could possibly aid the negotiation, SEADO Verlan Diaz requested for Atty. Padro’sSkype account and arranged through Ms. Damacino a live on-line conference to avoid resetting the hearing.

During the online Skype conference, the parties were able to exchange views and to openly laid their respective concerns. Surprisingly, the parties arrived at an amicable agreement, including a constructive scheduling of payments of benefits.

“The P1,347,022.74 was given in two installments, the first installment on 15 Augustandthefull payment on 15 September. The DOLE SurigaoDel Norte Field Office witnessed the payment and attested to the correctness of the amounts received by each worker,” said Director Domingo.

Baldoz said that the SENA, a major DOLE reform program, provides an inexpensive, accessible, non-litigious, and fair mechanism to resolve issues and concerns between workers without resorting to tedious and lengthy legal proceedings.


(From the report of DOLE CARAGA)

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