The National Congress of Unions in the Sugar Industry of the Philippines is alarmed over the statement of Presidential Adviser on Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion that employees may not get their 13th month pay and may end up empty handed if the government doesn’t ease restrictions on businesses, NASCUSIP national president Roland de la Cruz said Wednesday, October 13.
“We, in the trade union movement are one with the business sector in calling for government to ease health and safety restrictions provided that there are enough vaccines for the workers to avail in order to have a more secure working environment to protect not only the customers but the workers as well,” he said.
“However, floating the idea of employers to deprive workers of their much-awaited 13th Month Pay leaves a sour taste in our mouth”, de la Cruz added.
Last year, the same call was also floated prompting Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello to issue a statement that the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) would study granting exemptions to distressed companies from paying 13th Month Pay to their employees, he said.
However, his statement was met with overwhelming objection from the trade union movement and the labor sector that prompted the DOLE to convene the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council to discuss the issue, de la Cruz said.
“As a labor representative to the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council, there was a unanimous objection to the proposal of deferring the payment of the 13th Month Pay to the workers as well as providing exemption, as there is no legal basis to provide exemption. The 13th Month Pay is a statutory benefit that only Congress can provide exemptions or deferment through amending the law, we warn them, don’t you dare”, de la Cruz added.
The 13th Month Pay law was widely known to be associated with the late labor leader and Labor Sectoral Representative Zoilo V. de la Cruz Jr. of NACUSIP, he said.*