Compressed work week Bill is antiworker
While the public mourned and raged over the killing of Kian delos Santos, the House of Representatives on Aug. 21, 2017, passed House Bill No. 6152 or the Compressed Work Week (CWW).
HB 6152 seeks to institutionalize the CWW scheme to promote business competitiveness, work efficiency and labor productivity. It paves the way for a 4-day-12-hour work week, with corresponding overtime payment only if work exceeds 48 hours a week.
The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) strongly opposes the bill and calls on the Senate, particularly the committee on labor, workers and all labor rights advocates
to reject HB 6152.
HB 6152 is not only retrogressive, it is pro-business and procapitalist while silent about the detrimental effects that extended hours have on workers’ health and wellbeing.
HB 6152 is retrogressive because it backpedals the gain of the workers’ struggle that catapulted the more than century-old International Labor Standards and the Philippine law stipulating that eight hours per day is the normal working cycle. This victory was in recognition of the physical, emotional, mental, social and even economic pressure that the human body can bear for a period of time without destroying it. It was in recognition that workers are not slaves, that they are humans with dignity. These reasons were factored in deciding that optional corresponding overtime pay in excess of eight hours is higher than regular work hours to compensate for the additional stress it may cause.
Workers’ minimum wages are already way below the decent amount and HB 6152 will further cut income while increasing capital profits by saving on business costs. To illustrate, and assuming that companies in Metro Manila for example pay their workers the minimum wage, a 4-day-12-hour work week will mean a loss of about P1,227.42 equivalent to a 16-hour-overtime pay per week. This is a big reduction in workers’ income that will throw more of them into poverty.
While a 48-hour or 72-hour rest day a week sounds enticing and considerate under HB 6152, it is also deceptive as it completely ignores the fact that workers and their families have to eat and support household expenses even on rest days and that income reduction will negatively impact on basic needs. Hungry families cannot enjoy a 3-day rest. Thus, this will compel workers to look for additional sources of income, making them more vulnerable to the vagaries of the labor market. This will further increase competition among workers who face risks of being underemployed or informally employed while providing ample window for capitalists to “manage” a work force pushed to choose between temporary jobs with even lower wages or nothing.
CTUHR also views that institutionalizing through HB 6152 pervasive company practice of forcing workers to work 12-16 hours daily is only a step away toward legalizing modern slavery especially for contractual workers in the manufacturing and service sectors in special economic zones.
HB 6152 will only worsen working conditions and increase the number of overworked Filipinos. Reducing the number of work days but making them work for longer periods of time does not provide a work-life balance. It will only expose them to more stress, fatigue, illnesses and accidents. And because wages are pegged at very low rates, workers will be forced to look for alternative sources of income during their supposed rest days to compensate for what they will lose in overtime pay.
CTUHR urges the Senate to reject HB 6152 and instead provide workers some degree of protection by immediately passing the Occupational Safety and Health Bill that was already approved by the House.
DAISY ARAGO, executive director, Center for Trade Union and Human Rights
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