A MEMBER of the opposition bloc in Congress has welcomed the leadership’s passage of a bill shortening the cycle of collective bargaining agreement (CBA) from the current five years to three years.
Assistant Minority Leader and Gabriela Women’s party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas said with the shortened CBA cycle under House Bill 9320, workers can negotiate earlier for the whole range of economic and political provisions of the CBA instead of waiting for five years.
“This will also allow workers to decide on whether to remain under the current union or to establish a new one in a timelier manner, as the so-called freedom period will be just three years after the signing of
the CBA,” Brosas said.
The freedom period refers to a sixty-day time frame immediately preceding the expiration of the CBA wherein certification elections can be held to
challenge the incumbent union.
Brosas noted however, that the gains of the proposed measure “could only be unleashed if there will be a vibrant and expansive trade union movement in the country.”
“Currently, only seven percent of all private sector workers are unionized, and a much lower figure are covered by working CBAs. Efforts to reform the regulation of CBAs must then be complemented by laws strengthening union formation and protection for trade unionists and labor organizers,” Brosas said.
With an overwhelming 210 votes, the House approved on the third and final reading House Bill (HB) 9320, principally authored by Parañaque City 2nd District Rep. Gus Tambunting.
“The bill seeks to amend Article 265 of Presidential Decree No. 442 or the Philippine Labor Code to encourage and protect the right of workers to collective bargaining and negotiations by increasing their
opportunity to choose an appropriate representative who can best speak for their needs,” Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez said earlier.
“If enacted into law, the validity of the bargaining representative’s term and the collective bargaining agreement itself will be reduced to three years from the current five, giving more flexibility for workers in exercising their right to bargain collectively with their employers,” Romualdez added.
HB 9320 also provides that all provisions of the CBA will remain in full force and effect during the effectivity of the agreement.
The term of the CBA is essential because under the Labor Code, no petition questioning the majority status of the incumbent bargaining agent could be entertained, and the Department of Labor and Employment could not conduct certification election outside the 60 days immediately before the date of expiry of the term of the CBA.
Jurisprudence provides that certification election is the process of determining the employees’ sole and exclusive bargaining agent in an appropriate bargaining unit for purposes of collective bargaining.
CBA refers to the negotiated contract between a legitimate labor organization and the employer concerning wages, hours of work, and all
other terms and conditions of employment.