DOLE audits 17 fish canning firms’ labor law compliance PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 14 June 2013 11:09

A total of 14,635 workers of 17 fish canning companies in Mindanao, specifically in Regions 9 and 12, will benefit from the Department of Labor and Employment’s rapid audit, conducted recently through Department of Labor and Employment’s Bureau of Working Conditions (BWC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Center (OSHC).

“We conducted the rapid audit of the fish canning companies to ensure their compliance with general labor standards and occupational safety and health standards, and to validate complaints of alleged engagement in “555” or “endo” work arrangement by some canning companies and their contractors,” said DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz.

Baldoz declined to name the companies pending full results of the audit.

She said the audit conducted in 10 principal fish canning establishments in Zamboanga (Region 9) and seven companies in General Santos City (Region 12) aims to determine the level of compliance of these companies to general labor standards and occupational safety and health rules.

“We wanted to ensure that our workers receive the benefits due them and that no labor standards and occupational safety and health standards are being violated; and to ensure that the workers are safe while performing their tasks at work,” Baldoz said.

“Most importantly, we would also like to assist these companies on how to voluntarily comply with labor laws,” she added.

The Bureau of Working Conditions initially reported that nine fish canning companies have committed labor standards violations, such as non-payment of holiday pays; underpayment of COLA, overtime pay, rest day pay, service incentive leave pay; unauthorized wage deductions; and inefficient record keeping of employment-related documents.

Meanwhile, two companies have been identified violating provisions on the wage of piece-rate workers; payments of night shift differential; anti-child labor law; and non-coverage of social welfare benefits.

On safety and health standards, the initial audit report revealed that some fish canning companies also failed to comply with some of the occupational safety and health requirements, such as the establishment of safety and health committees at the workplace; employment of an accredited safety and health personnel; provision of adequate personal protective equipment; and administrative reporting to the DOLE.

Baldoz said the DOLE offices in these regions are assisting the companies to effect corrections of the findings and to immediately facilitate the award of the monetary benefits amounting to P52.9 million due to the affected workers of the companies found to have committed the violations.

The erring companies and their contractors shall be given ten (10) days to correct their violations of general labor standards and occupational safety and health standards.

“The regional offices, shall also issue cease-and-desist order to the erring companies. Otherwise, the penalty under Department Order No. 18-A shall be enforced against them,” Baldoz said.

“All violating companies and contractors shall be given 10 days to correct their infringements on general labor standards,” she added.

She expressed satisfaction that the representatives of the fish canning companies, during the exit conference with the DOLE, have already signified their willingness to restitute their noted violations on labor laws and safety and health standards.

They also committed to submit to the DOLE their respective action plans specifying their time frames and over-all course of action in correcting their identified violations.

Towards a sustained effort in ensuring compliance on workers’ safety, companies shall have their safety officers take the 40-hour Basic Occupational Safety and Health Training which is now made much more accessible through the Occupational Safety and Health Networks established in each region.

The safety officers, as well as workers, also have the option of taking the course online through the e-BOSH.

The e-BOSH is a complete course on occupational safety and health (OSH) which includes good housekeeping, materials handling, machine, fire, chemical, and electrical safety, occupational health, and OSH legislation.

Included among the recommendations given by OSHC were for the implementation of good housekeeping and proper materials procedures, complete reporting of accidents and illnesses, installation of machine guards, provision of appropriate personal protective equipment, installation of sufficient ventilation systems and development of a good occupational safety and health program.

Likewise, the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board shall assist the Regional Offices in conducting a time and motion study to determine the output rate of piece rate employees.

Further, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority shall also conduct an investigation on the compliance of the companies with training regulations relative to the implementation of their respective apprenticeship programs, including training for forklift operators.

“The DOLE aims to continuously initiate developmental interventions to guide industries as they see the importance of complying with labor laws and sustaining health and safety practices in all workplaces, which is essential not only in increasing the productivity of the company as a whole, but in safeguarding workers ‘rights and safety,” Baldoz said.