Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Pro-labor Constitution, poor enforcement and implementation, equals poor labor conditions.

Despite the Philippines’s pro-labor Constitution and statutes (especially the labor code), many Filipino still live each day under poor labor conditions: under minimum wage; lack of, or no legally mandated benefits; extended work hours without overtime pay; inhumane work conditions, and the list goes on.
While we know that a growing number of employers are starting to realize that a well-provided (labor standards), and fairly treated and empowered (labor relations) workforce translate into productivity and good reputation for the company, a sore number still resort to scrimping on all it can to maximize profit now, and forget about the future. Many of those who failed to see the value of empowered workforce, indeed, did not live long enough to realize it.
On the other hand, we see that it is a problem of implementation and enforcement. Our labor constitutional provisions and labor laws are mere scrap of paper unless they are implemented. They are a lip service unless employees know their rights and have the heart to stand for them. The State often stands as a passive participant.
No one will go out everyday and take the cudgel for everyone for their labor woes. Each, at least, has to be willing to take the painful steps of educating oneself, and more painful steps of demanding and fighting for what he believes he deserves as a matter of right under the law. As discussed above, many employers still will not give what many are entitled to when they know they can get away with depriving them—though the trend is against it.  
Below are Constitutional provisions on labor that are supposed to help level the playing field between employers and employees. When the capital deprives labor of its statutory entitlement, the law rallies to the aid of the hapless labor to counterbalance the economic power and influence of capital and compel it to give what is due to labor.
Under the 1987 Philippine Constitution, the fundamental law of the land, labor is promoted and protected. Let us familiarize ourselves with the constitutional provisions on labor, and use them to better our chances when faced against oppressive employers. They are under Articles II, III, IX-B, and XIII:
Section 9. The State shall promote a just and dynamic social order that will ensure the prosperity and independence of the nation and free the people from poverty through policies that provide adequate social services, promote full employment, a rising standard of living, and an improved quality of life for all.
Section 10. The State shall promote social justice in all phases of national development.
Section 11. The State values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights.
Section 13. The State recognizes the vital role of the youth in nation-building and shall promote and protect their physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual, and social well-being. It shall inculcate in the youth patriotism and nationalism, and encourage their involvement in public and civic affairs.
Section 14. The State recognizes the role of women in nation-building, and shall ensure the fundamental equality before the law of women and men.
Section 18. The State affirms labor as a primary social economic force. It shall protect the rights of workers and promote their welfare.
Section 20. The State recognizes the indispensable role of the private sector, encourages private enterprise, and provides incentives to needed investments.
Section 1. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.
Section 4. No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.
Section 8. The right of the people, including those employed in the public and private sectors, to form unions, associations, or societies for purposes not contrary to law shall not be abridged.
Section 2.
3. No officer or employee of the civil service shall be removed or suspended except for cause provided by law.
5. The right to self-organization shall not be denied to government employees.
6. Temporary employees of the Government shall be given such protection as may be provided by law.
Section 3. The State shall afford full protection to labor, local and overseas, organized and unorganized, and promote full employment and equality of employment opportunities for all.
It shall guarantee the rights of all workers to self-organization, collective bargaining and negotiations, and peaceful concerted activities, including the right to strike in accordance with law. They shall be entitled to security of tenure, humane conditions of work, and a living wage. They shall also participate in policy and decision-making processes affecting their rights and benefits as may be provided by law.
The State shall promote the principle of shared responsibility between workers and employers and the preferential use of voluntary modes in settling disputes, including conciliation, and shall enforce their mutual compliance therewith to foster industrial peace.
The State shall regulate the relations between workers and employers, recognizing the right of labor to its just share in the fruits of production and the right of enterprises to reasonable returns to investments, and to expansion and growth.
Section 14. The State shall protect working women by providing safe and healthful working conditions, taking into account their maternal functions, and such facilities and opportunities that will enhance their welfare and enable them to realize their full potential in the service of the nation.

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