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Wage cuts to preserve jobs mulled; seafarers special lane launched

Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua on Thursday said negotiating temporary wage reduction was needed to preserve more jobs amid the pandemic downturn.

During the virtual hearing of the House Committee on Economic Affairs, Chua said the temporary cut in wages was among the immediate steps toward the road to recovery to prevent layoffs and retrenchments as the country gradually reopens its economy.

“To keep as many jobs as much as possible and this temporary wage reduction that is consensual I think is the immediate step that we can take,” he said.

“Over the long term or the medium term, we know the economy is changing and we cannot keep the same jobs if they are not going to be jobs that are the most efficient and compliant to the new normal so we will have to think about preserving employment and not a particular job,” he added.

Marikina City Rep. Stella Quimbo, however, argued that wage reduction had a big impact on the country’s poverty rate, adding that it should be the government’s last policy resort.

“I know the Department of Labor and Employment recently issued a memo allowing wage reduction so long as it is consensual. The key is consent. That consent is going to be vitiated. [But] you don’t expect workers in a really good bargaining position,” she said.

Seafarers lane

The government is establishing a green lane to facilitate the speedy and safe travel of seafarers, including their swift disembarkation during the coronavirus disease 2019 COVID-19 pandemic.

The joint circular for the “Philippine Green Lane” was signed Thursday by Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, Interior Undersecretary Bernardo Florece Jr., and Justice Assistant Secretary Nicholas Ty.

Locsin said the circular answered the call of the International Maritime Organization to put in place a framework for safe crew changes for thousands of sailors who need to leave their ships.

“We agree with the International Maritime Organization that the current situation is unsustainable for the safety and well-being of the ship crew and the safe operation of maritime trade,” he said.

P64.3-m SAP funds

The Department of Social Welfare and Development has distributed P64.3 million to 11,383 waitlisted family beneficiaries of the government’s Social Amelioration Program.

DSWD Secretary Rolando Bautista announced the latest figure in their online bi-weekly program on Thursday, citing efforts being done to ramp up distribution of assistance.

“Our field offices continue to distribute the SAP cash to waitlisted beneficiaries to different parts of the country,” he said.

Bautista said the term “waitlisted beneficiaries” were those families who applied for the program during the first wave of distribution but were not included in the list.

Safer community

A Workplace free of COVID-19 is a key to a safer community in new normal and resilient society, according to the National Anti-Poverty Commission.

The commission on Thursday urged the government, private sector and even non-government organizations to implement mandatory test to all of their employees and volunteer front liners working and residing in establishments or communities with confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Its 14 basic sector councils “fully” backed the government’s initial measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, and to push for a relentless and proactive role in its strategy to “find, isolate, test and treat every case” of COVID-19 affected individuals and communities.

A mandatory testing of all workers and volunteers, and the establishment of additional accredited testing facilities in rural and urban areas could result in building the new normal and resilient society, NAPC said in a statement.

Topics: Karl Chua , Department of Labor and Employment , COVID-19 , House Committee on Economic Affairs , National Anti-Poverty Commission , Department of Social Welfare and Development
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