LABOR Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III said his department is still in negotiations to get unions to sign off on the delayed voluntary regularization plan proposed by the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECoP), in the hope that the plan will become a tripartite deal.
In an interview last week, Mr. Bello said the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) remains in talks with labor groups on the National Voluntary Regularization Program agreement, under which employers undertake to grant regular status to hundreds of thousands of workers.
“Probably this time this could be a tripartite MoU (memorandum of understanding),” Mr. Bello said.
ECoP President Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis Jr. said last month that the MoU signing was only postponed and is hopeful that it will still go ahead.
The three-year voluntary regularization plan between DoLE and ECoP supposed to begin last February, with the goal of regularizing 220,000 workers from ECoP member companies.
Nagkaisa Labor Coalition and Kilusang Mayo Uno said last month that the program granting ECoP a three-year labor inspection moratorium represented a dereliction of duty on the part of the Labor Secretary, exposing him to possible legal action. Mr. Bello has said that the threat of prosecution was one of the reasons for delaying the signing.
Mr. Bello said the labor sector misunderstood the moratorium component, adding: “The inspection will be waived unless there is a complaint. If there is a complaint we will still conduct the inspection.” He said he hopes the plan will go ahead if the labor groups can be persuaded to agree to the deal.
“Because of that MoU, you are assured that we will regularize not less than 200,000… It would be a waste (if the plan does not go ahead),” he said, adding that DoLE continues to ask legislators to pass the Security of Tenure (SoT) Bill.
The SoT Bill, which was certified as urgent by President Rodrigo R. Duterte last year, is still undergoing second reading at the Senate. — Gillian M. Cortez