Workers picket against compressed work week proposal


Partido Manggagawa said the proposed compressed work week will lead to overworked employees who will be deprived of overtime. PM, Twitter
MANILA, Philippines — Workers need shorter work days, not a compressed work week, Partido Manggagawa said Wednesday as it protested what it called a "scheme to overwork and underpay workers." 
Members of PM and labor group Sentro picketed the Senate Wednesday morning as senators were set to tackle a bill for a compressed work week. The House of Representatives has already approved a counterpart bill on third and final reading.
"Legislating the compressed workweek will lead to the derogation if not destruction of the historic eight-hour work day. Instead of lengthening the working day, it should be shortened without lost of pay for workers. The compressed workweek will lead to health and safety issues while shortening the working day will vastly improve work-life balance," Rene Magtubo, PM national chair, said in a release.
The bill seeks to amend the Labor Code to allow companies to extend beyond eight hours a day inexchange for a compressed work week. Under the bill, rest days in a compressed work week should not be less than two days but no more than three. 
Those who put in more than 48 hours a week will receive overtime pay.
"These arrangements give employers and employees flexibility in fixing hours of work compatible with business requirements and the employees’ need for a balanced work-life,” Baguio City Rep. Mark Go, one of the bill's authors, said in a House of Representatives release in August.
But Magtubo said the longer hours are "a recipe for killing workers through overwork and stress" since workers may have to labor for more than 12 hours a day and still spend hours commuting.
"Millions of workers already work 12 hours day because they avail of overtime as a way of augmenting their meager daily wages which are not enough to sustain their families. The compressed workweek will legalize this epidemic of overwork but worsen it by taking away overtime pay. The compressed workweek is a ploy to cheapen salaries, similar to the regionalization of wages," he said.
Magtubo said that rules already exist to allow flexible schedules, or "flexi-time", in exceptional cases and where these schedules are advantageous to workers. "These must remain exceptions to the rule and the norm should be that the workday is eight hours and work beyond must be paid overtime."
In August, Employers Confederation of the Philippines chairman Donald Dee said in an interview on ANC that a compressed work week will not benefit companies much and will affect workers' health as well as their family lives.
"What time do they have for their kids who are already asleep when they go home, who are still asleep when they leave the home?" Dee said then. 

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