SUN UP TO SUN DOWN

Reysan Lahaylahay worked from sun up to sun down as a driver for a local grocery and agrivet supplies store in Mahayag town, Zamboanga del Sur province. But for the 11 hours of work per day that he clocks in, the 400 peso daily wage he receives is a far cry from what he is entitled to.

“I have been with the company for more than a year delivering goods and other supplies to and from the stores. It’s a tough job. With the daily wage I received, it’s hard to meet my family’s needs especially since I have two young kids to feed,” he said.

While Reysan wanted to be paid for the overtime work and 13th month bonus from last year, he hesitated to file a complaint because he needed the job.

“Eventually, I got fed up and went to the DOLE office in Pagadian City to ask for assistance,” he shared.

SETTLING DUES

Along with 11 of his co-workers who share the same discontent, they met with senior labor and employment officer Engr. Vicente Longcob, Jr., to thoroughly discuss the complaint and their preferred solution to the issues at hand.

“The group led by Mr. Lahaylahay prayed for monetary claims for non-payment of overtime pay, non-payment of 13th month pay and holiday pay.

Through our program called the Single Entry Approach or SENA, we were able to settle these monetary claims with their employer who agreed to pay Mr. Lahaylahay 27,000 pesos in back wages,” said Engr. Longcob.

Employees of the said company received a collective settlement of 214,000 pesos.

“I feel so glad that I received this amount of money. I was able to open up a small sari-sari store in my hometown to help augment my income. It also helped pay for my sick child’s medical expenses,” Reysan excitedly shares.

For now, he is still on the lookout for a new job, but while on it, he accepts requests from former patrons for driving services.

SINGLE ENTRY APPROACH TO MOST LABOR DISPUTES

Regrettably, Reysan’s experience is all too common. According to the latest data from DOLE 9’s Technical Support and Services Division, for half of year 2022 alone, 76 complaints or requests for assistance on non-payment/underpayment of overtime pay and other benefits were received by various DOLE field offices.

Atty. Roy L. Buenafe, regional director, said that employees are entitled to additional compensation for work performed beyond eight hours a day. The same goes for payment of 13th month pay.

“The Labor department is intensifying its efforts on conducting training advisory visits and routine inspections in various companies in Zamboanga Peninsula to ensure that they are compliant with labor laws,” Buenafe said.

To help workers receive what is due them, the SENA program was launched in 2013.

It is an administrative approach to provide a speedy, impartial, inexpensive, and accessible settlement procedure of all labor issues or conflicts to prevent them from ripening into full-blown disputes or actual labor cases.

Any aggrieved worker, union, group of workers, or employer may file a Request for Assistance (RFA) with the nearest DOLE 9 field office. ◾ (KCG)

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