Monday, April 18, 2005

NR0419:DOLE encourages employers to hire apprentices

Mula sa Tanggapan ni Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran
News Release April 19, 2005
House of Representatives, South Wing Rm 602
931-6615 Ina Alleco R. Silverio, Chief of Staff
Cellphone number 09213907362

Solon opposes DOLE proposal that employers hire new graduates and workers as apprentices to save on labor costs

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran expressed strong contempt anew for Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas and her proposal that employers they hire fresh graduates as trainees or apprentices, saying that the proposal was an attack against labor's right to job security. He said that he will strongly oppose this proposal if any legislative or executive action is done to legitimize it.

"Instead of coming up with proposals that will protect workers, the DOLE keeps racking its brains to put together plans that attack workers rights and exacerbate the already shocking problem of widespread unemployment," he said. "Unemployment rates are at an all-time high, but the national government much less the DOLE have not been able to generate more jobs for the growing army of unemployed and underemployed Filipinos. Currently, unemployment rates are pegged at a minimum of 11.4% to 14%," he said.

Sto. Tomas has said that employers will be able to save more because they will only need to pay apprentices 75% of the prevailing minimum wage rate. They will be able to save up to 25% in labor costs because of this. In the meantime, if they choose to pay their apprentices full wages, they can save 50% on labor costs by availing themselves of deductions.

Apprentices can only work for a period of four to six months, and can be immediately laid off unless the company offers them a contract which, in most cases are also contractual nature. "This is a despicable proposal that should not be taken up or supported. Sto. Tomas is yet again proving her mettle as a viciously anti-worker bureaucrat who is always on the look out for measures that will further worsen the exploitation of workers while giving employers and big businesses more opportunities to increase their profits," he said.

Beltran said that if Sto. Tomas proposal is imposed by employers or, worse, turned into a Department Order or legislated into law, the struggle of workers for job security, regularization and tenure will be severely undermined."This is an outright attack against workers' job security. Labor flexibility schemes, among them contractualization and extended apprenticeship schemes have already denied thousands of workers their right to job security, adequate wages and social security benefits. Sto. Tomas is making a recommendation that seeks to completely do away with the long fought-for rights of workers,' he said.

Sto. Tomas and the DOLE are offering employers who opt to hire trainees various incentives via the ongoing Kasanayan at Kabuhayan (KASH) program of the department, the technical Education and Skills Development Agency (TESDA) in cooperation with employers groups.

Although labor-only contracting is declared as unlawful in the Labor Code, there is still no penalty imposed upon those who will engage in labor-only contracting, thereby giving one the impression that the activity is not openly prohibited by the government. #


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