Metro Manila firms ordered to pay P46 million in benefits

The Department of Labor and Employment has ordered various firms in Metro Manila to pay P46.2 million in benefits to some 1,007 workers following the settlement of  325 labor cases under Phase 2 of Speedy and Expeditious Delivery of Labor Cases (SpEED 2).

Project SPEED is a DOLE-initiated reform measure aimed at disposing expeditiously and efficiently all labor cases pending as of April 30, 2009 by April 2011.

The reform is in support of the 22-point labor and employment agenda of Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III of institutionalizing fast-working and efficient labor arbitration and adjudication system that ensures quality decisions, eliminates red tape, and restores integrity and fairness in the service.

The DOLE award of benefits covers orders of payment to correct violations on general labor standards (GLS) and occupational health and safety standards (OSHS) filed from May 2009 up to March 2010.

Most of the violations included underpayment of wages, unpaid SSS, PhilHealth, and Pag-Ibig contributions; non-payment of holiday pay, overtime pay, ECOLA; and denial of access to workers’ and employees’ records.

The OSHS violations included non-registration under Rule 1020, non-submission of first aide certificate, non-organization of plant-level safety committees, and non-filing of annual medical and accident reports.

The disposition accounts to 83.97 percent out of the 387 cases enrolled under SPEED 2, leaving the DOLE-NCR with only 62 pending cases to be disposed of until September 30, 2010.  

“We are confident of hitting our target.  Our intention is to keep our dockets current.  It does not mean though that we will no longer have case backlogs, but we are working double-time to dispose cases expeditiously and efficiently,” said DOLE-NCR regional director Raymundo G. Agravante.

To prevent cases from maturing into labor standard cases, the DOLE-NCR had also institutionalized the 30-day mandatory conciliation and mediation of all labor and employment cases, another DOLE-initiated reform measure, as a means of settling issues or concerns between management and labor at the DOLE-level.


Education needs P43 billion in five years

The national government needs to raise at least P43.2 billion in the next five years if it hopes to build enough classrooms and other school facilities and hire more teachers for the country to achieve its 2015 goal of achieving universal primary education.

This was revealed by the Department of Education following the UN-assessment report that it was in this critical area where the Philippines has been lagging in its commitment.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) has estimated that the government needs P180 billion in support facilities.

The DepEd said the biggest ticket will be in the hiring of 103,000 school teachers which will entail additional budget of P17 billion.

These are needed for the DepEd to accommodate a maximum of 45 pupils per class without class shift of two to three a day as in the case in the most congested schools in Metro Manila.

The second biggest ticket will cost the government another P12 billion which is the total cost of 13 new seats.

 The seats will be housed in 152,000 additional classrooms which will cost another P4.2 billion. Those classrooms will also need their own toilets which will cost another P10 billion for a total of P43.2 billion in investments for basic educational infrastructure beginning next year.

The DepEd has not included in the proposed budget what will be needed should it decide to meet global standards of providing 12 years of basic education in the Philippines which is above the present system of only ten years of elementary and high school education.

No decision has yet been made if the government will opt for adding additional years in the elementary grades and high school as demanded by most business groups and the National Competitive Council.

 The new policy at upgrading basic and tertiary education, it was revealed, is being reviewed together with a review of the curricula in higher education to match courses with the requirements of economic growth in succeeding years.