Labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno expressed its disagreement today to proposals to implement a four-day work week composed of 10 hours per day, saying this could only mean less income for workers under the present employment situation in the country.
Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo filed the “Four-Day Work Week Act of 2011” at the House of Representatives, seeking to achieve a “work-life balance” for workers and to lessen workers’ spending for food and transportation.
“Under present circumstances, a four-day work week will not help Filipino workers achieve a balance between work and life. The fact that many companies, especially in so-called special economic zones, are implementing this scheme on their own shows that workers will lose more than gain from this,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.
“A four-hour workday will only bring about a loss of income for many of our workers who are not paid when they do not report for work. There won’t be enough rest for workers either because they will be made to work for longer hours – which will cause a greater amount of physical stress,” he added.
“On the one hand, implementing a four-day work week will legitimize similar schemes that are already in place. On the other hand, it won’t do anything to stop employers from forcing employees to work on weekends, a phenomenon which is already widespread at present,” he said.
What workers want
KMU said what Filipino workers want is the strict observation of the eight-hour work day and a significant wage increase as an immediate relief for workers’ families who have been suffering from low wages and high prices.
“In so-called special economic zones and for contractual workers who compose the majority of the country’s workers, the eight-hour work day is a thing of the past. Capitalists have continuously attacked the eight-hour work day and have revived the most barbaric working conditions reminiscent of capitalism’s early stages when workers still have to unite to fight for their rights,” Labog said.
“We want the eight-hour work day strictly enforced. We also want a significant wage increase to be legislated, for we want immediate relief from rising prices and low wages – a relief that comes from the value that we create as toiling masses,” he added.
KMU also criticized the Employers’ Confederation of the Philippines’ reaction to the bill, saying the employers’ group is opposing the measure for the wrong reasons in alluding to the so-called “fiesta and siesta mentality” of Filipinos.
“It is not the Filipino workers who are enjoying fiesta and siesta under the current system; it is the capitalists, especially the big and foreign ones. That Filipino workers are not working hard enough is a big lie being used by capitalists to prolong working hours and press down workers’ wages,” Labog said.
“ECOP is making a big fuss out of paid holidays when most capitalists are not even giving that to their employees. Workers are working hard – too hard, in fact – compared with the pitiful compensation that they are receiving from the country’s greedy capitalists,” he added.
KMU cited the August 2011 study of UBS which surveyed the wage levels, cost of living and purchasing power in 72 countries and showed the Philippines to be one of the lowest in the list in each of the categories. Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU Chairperson