DoLE to launch mobile app for worker, OFW concerns

THE DEPARTMENT of Labor and Employment (DoLE) will launch a mobile application in Dec., in time for its 86th anniversary, to provide better access to its services for locally-employed and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III, in a statement on Sunday, said the app will serve as a platform for relaying concerns to the DoLE headquarters and its offices abroad. “This application is intended to provide a major channel for our workers and OFWs to get in touch with DoLE and the POLO (Philippine Overseas Labor Office). Through the use of modern technology, they can relay their labor related concerns and complaints,” he said. Through the app, DoLE will provide hotline numbers and point workers to the nearest DoLE office based on their location. The mobile app, which will be available for free on both Android and Apple devices, will also feature a “Wage Calculator” for computing overtime and holiday pay or deductions on top of daily wages. — Gillian M. Cortez

Seafarers’ group official recommends fewer maritime schools

THE PHILIPPINES needs less maritime schools as only an average of 20% of graduates get hired on board ships, according to Associated Marine Officers’ and Seamen’s Union of the Philippines (AMOSUP) Vice-President Eduardo Ma. R. Santos. “Only 20% are able to board a ship. Kawawa talaga (It’s really a pity for the graduates). That’s consistent, 19% to 20% per year,” Mr. Santos, also the president of the Maritime Academy of Asia and the Pacific (MAAP), told BusinessWorld in Manila on Nov. 6. He explained that this is likely due to the limited number of ships. He said the government should reduce the number of maritime schools, which have been “increasing” despite the low employment rate. He noted that there are currently at least 90 maritime schools that are accredited by the Commission on Higher Education. Asked if there are still good career opportunities for seafarer graduates, he said: “That’s what everybody says. That’s what schools say. Ginawang negosyo eh (It is being used as a money-making venture).” — Arjay L. Balinbin

Labor group reminds employers on Christmas seasonal hiring rules

WITH THE Christmas season drawing near, the Associated Labor Union-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) has reminded employers to follow labor guidelines in hiring seasonal workers. In a statement on Sunday, ALU-TUCP Spokesperson Alan A. Tanjusay said interviews they conducted with agency-hired workers indicate “an upsurge trend for cheap skilled and unskilled seasonal, temporary and on-call workers in the labor market in time for the Christmas and new year.” “Hiring of contractual, ‘pakyaw’ and seasonal jobs are allowed under existing law. However, these workers must be regular and directly-hired to middlemen manpower agencies and are paid with the mandated and lawful minimum wages and social protection benefits,” the group said. Pakyaw, as defined by the Government Procurement Policy Board, refers to a “system of hiring a labor group for the performance of a specific work and/or service incidental to the implementation of infrastructure project by administration whereby tools and materials are furnished by the implementing agency.” Mr. Tanjusay also noted that there are manpower service providers and agencies that do illegal contracting and sub-contracting. In Metro Manila, for example, female workers “are bidded and bought” for P300 a day while male workers for P400 daily despite the P537 minimum wage in the National Capital Region. — Gillian M. Cortez