Port workers under the Samahang Manggagawa sa Harbour Centre trooped to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on January 11 due the insufficient 13th month pay they received from their agency Grasials Ports Services and Stevedoring Corporation.
According to the workers’ group, the manpower agencies hired by the port terminal owned by Reghis Romero was not able to explain properly how they came up with the amount of workers’ 13th month pay.
Their 13th month pay were only handwritten on petty cash vouchers instead of proper pay slips bearing the computations, logo and legal details of the agency.
“Hindi masaya ang Pasko at Bagong Taon naming mga kontraktwal na manggagawa dahil sa ginawa sa amin ng aming agency. Saan ka nakakita ng 13th month pay ng P1,000 to P4,000 lang?” said Samahan ng Manggagawa sa Harbour Centre President Eldefonso Bello.
[Christmas and New Year were not joyous for the contractual workers because of what the agency did to us. Who knew of a 13th month pay amounting only to P1,000 to 4,000?]
Bello added that the 13th month pay they should receive amounts to P6,000 to P10,000 for the 150 to 200 days of work.
“Para kaming binubusabos lalo. Sa halos isang dekada, ito na ang nararanasan namin. Binabarat na nga ang sahod namin, pati pa naman 13th month pay ay lolokohin pa kami,” he said.
[This seemed like further enslavement. In a decade, this is what we have experienced. Our wages have been haggled down, now they cheat our 13th month pay.]
Workers hit Duterte’s anti workers’ policies
The group also denounced President Rodrigo Duterte not delivering his promise to end contractualization. While the DOLE ordered in August 2017 for the regularization of 378 workers at Harbour Centre Port Terminal, Inc. (HCPTI) through the campaigns and protests of the workers, they have yet to enjoy the benefits of becoming regular workers.
Based also on the decision, the two agencies hired by HCPTI were ordered to stop operations since the agency and the management were practicing ‘labor only contracting’, which was called out by the Duterte administration as an illegal practice as per the Labor Code.
Bello decried that instead of ending contractualization, the DOLE also came up with a department order that only labelled contractual workers as regular, but would more or less suffer the same circumstances or be burdened to pay for the benefits that regular workers receive.
From 2014 up to 2016, the accumulated money claims of the 378 port workers amounted to P99.89 million, including the underpayment of wages, illegal deduction overtime works, holiday pay and underpayment 13th month pay. This has yet to be paid to the workers.
The workers also hit Duterte’s Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act, which has caused greater burden among the Filipino people because of the soaring prices of basic commodities and services.
Bello also hit the Duterte administration for imposing higher taxes instead of increasing the wages of workers and ending contractualization. Workers, especially minimum wage earners and contractuals, are among those who will not gain from the lower income taxes provision in the TRAIN.
“Nagrereklamo kaming mga mangaggawa dahil ramdam namin ang masahol na epekto ng TRAIN ni Duterte. Mas mabilis pang magtaas ng presyo ng bilihin ang pamahalaan kaysa taasan ang sahod naming mga manggagawa,” Bello ended.
[We workers complain of the adverse effects of Duterte’s TRAIN. The government was quicker to raise prices of goods than raising the wages of workers.]