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PNoy signs two new labor laws

MANILA -- Domestic helpers and other poor workers do not have to worry
anymore about the high cost of pursuing labor cases against erring employers.
President Aquino signed recently two new labor laws that would not only boost
the countrys economic climate but will also benefit millions of poor workers. The
first law known as an Act Strengthening Tripartism, declared tripartism in labor
relations as a state policy, allowing employers and workers to become part of
policy-making bodies of the government. The same law mandates the
establishment of a National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council (NTIPC) headed by
the secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). Composed of
representatives from the government, employers and workers, the NTIPC shall
monitor full implementation and compliance of international conventions,
declarations, code of conducts and social accords.
The council shall also formulate recommendations to the President and Congress
on labor, economic and social concerns and advice DOLE on implementation of
policies and legislation affecting labor and employment. It shall also serve as
communication channel and mechanism for joint programs enhancing labor and
management relations. The council would serve as a clearing house that would
make easier for us to craft new policies with the labor, management and
government discussing and agreeing on its implementation, Labor Secretary
Rosalinda Baldoz said. Meanwhile, the other law, which amends the Labor Code,
mandates mandatory conciliation of all issues arising from labor disputes. The
Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) yesterday assured the public of
faster and easier resolution of labor disputes with the signing of the new law.
The DOLEs system of voluntary conciliation and mediation is now
institutionalized, which means both workers and employers must now undergo a
30-day conciliation and exhaust all efforts for settlement of disputes, Baldoz
said. Its an opportunity for all workers, including domestic helpers, drivers, and
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seafarers to talk and settle dispute with their employers without the need of
paying much for the litigation of cases, Baldoz said. With the mandatory
conciliation, labor disputes can be resolved faster so the high cost of filing
complaints that sometimes even reach the Supreme Court can now be avoided,
Baldoz said. The labor arbiter of the concerned DOLE agency that has jurisdiction
over the dispute shall only entertain cases that have been endorsed or referred
by a duly authorized officer. Both parties involved in the dispute may pre-
terminate the conciliation proceedings and request referral to labor office only if
they both agree to refer the unresolved dispute to voluntary arbitration.
Baldoz said the new law will preserve and enhance the delivery of labor justice
and will also be useful for both labor and management considering that majority
of companies in the country is small and medium enterprises. Since the
government already has an existing mechanism, Baldoz said the DOLE expects full
implementation of the new laws, published in The STAR yesterday, by May.
We already have the mechanism so the DOLE would probably just make minor
improvements and implement the new law as soon as possible, she said. The
business community welcomed yesterday the signing of new labor laws, which
would institutionalize partnership between the employers and workers
nationwide. The Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) said the new
law strengthens tripartism with the creation of tripartite industrial peace councils
at the national, regional, and industry levels.