By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
Local labor rights group, General Alliance of Workers Association (GAWA), has expressed opposition to the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) proposal to defer the release of 13th month pay.
GAWA Secretary-General Wennie Sancho said they are extremely disappointed over the pronouncements of DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III, which could affect around two million workers.
Bello’s proposal aims to help business establishments which have incurred heavy losses due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, Sancho noted Bello’s proposal is unfortunate as the workers have become the “shock absorbers” brought by the pandemic.
Sancho said under the 13th Month Pay Law or Presidential Decree #851, 1/12 of the basic salary of an employee within a calendar year shall be paid to him/her on or before December 24 of every year.
Basic salary shall include all remuneration of earnings paid by an employer to an employee for services rendered by may not include the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA).
“The implementation of the 13th month pay cannot be deferred arbitrarily by DOLE because it is a law, unless the workers would waive their rights to claim,” Sancho said.
He further stated if there are business establishments who are distressed and would file petition for exemptions, it has to be evaluated by DOLE regional offices and will take effect only if there is an authorization from the DOLE Secretary.
He also pointed out the Philippine Constitution mandates that the state shall afford full protection to labor and that the 13th month pay is mandatory and it cannot be deferred nor denied./DGB, WDJ