Wednesday, September 29, 2004

RP labor head promises to discourage unions

In order to clear investors' worries on labor disputes in the Philippines, the country's labor head visited Taiwan yesterday and promised to solve the problem in favor of employers.

"I will try everything legally and morally to protect the employers' interests in labor disputes, and in order to safeguard better communications between employers and labors an officer from the central government will station full time in the Subic Bay," said Patricia Sto. Tomas, Secretary of Philippines' Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

For the past six months the Philippine government has been sending friendly messages to lure more Taiwan investors.

The new government led by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo outlined a more liberated, incentive-driven Subic-Clark corridor for foreign manufacturers. However, in a labor-dominated country like the Philippines, organizing unions is a constitutional right. Thus, the underling threats of strikes and sabotage had frightened those who intended to launch production lines there.

Hoping to voice many Taiwan investors' concerns on the issue, Chinese National Association of Industry and Commerce Chairman Theodore Huang visited Philippines' labor officials several times and finally received a clear endorsement.

Because most of the foreign investors cluster in the Subic Bay, Tomas said she would travel more frequently from Manila to monitor the situation there.

With respect to the fact that the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) lacks sufficient power to tackle disputes, and that cases sent back to the central government cost time and money, Tomas also promised the dispute case could stay in the Subic Bay.

"The SBMA will be given broader authority to hear the case, and the central government will not interfere if the disputed parties wish so," she said.

Tomas stressed that only five percent of Philippine workers had joined unions. "There's no way that unions will definitely lead to strikes or sabotage."

"In many cases, Philippine workers prefer not to join the union because they have to pay monthly dues. DOLE will continue working on creative and positive ways for a win-win situation," she said

Saturday, September 18, 2004

BCDA president, directors take pay cuts

THE BASES Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) announced Thursday that the salaries and benefits received by its president and directors had been cut by as much as 72 percent in line with the government's efforts to cut expenses.

It said the annual pay of its president and chief executive officer Rufo Colayco was reduced by 58 percent to P1.79 million a year from P4.27 million, including the basic salary and all other benefits.

The BCDA said it also cut the compensation of its directors by 72 percent to P20,000 a month from about P71,400.

BCDA directors include Alvin Capino, Rafael Julian Azanza, Jesulito Manalo, Ari-den Sebastian, Gerardo Seno, Isaac Puno III, and Florencio Padernal.

A resolution on the pay cuts was passed last Sept. 22 to comply with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's call for austerity in the wake of the current fiscal crisis.

The BCDA said the resolution would take effect on Oct. 1.

The BCDA, created by law in 1992, is tasked with converting former and present military bases into commercial or industrial hubs, and promoting social and economic development of the Central Luzon region in particular and the Philippines in general.

Earlier this week, two top officials of state-owned Philippine National Oil Co. (PNOC) resigned in the wake of a controversy on high salaries of executives in government-owned or -controlled corporations.

Resigned were Rufino Bomasang and Jose Gangan, presidents of PNOC Exploration Corp. and PNOC Petrochemical Development Corp., respectively.

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), which runs a free port built in a former American naval base at Subic Bay, said its pay rationalization plan would assure that the annual salaries and benefits of its officials were within the limits set by MalacaƱang.

SBMA senior deputy administrator Chito Cruz said a memorandum order dated June 25, 2001, specified that the pay package of SBMA officials should not exceed twice the standard rates for comparable national government positions.

Cruz said SBMA Chairman Felicito Payumo received P51,700 a month because he gave P33,342 of his pay to a scholarship support fund.

Cruz said the SBMA had cut the per diem of its directors to P20,000 a month from P60,000 because meetings were now held twice a month instead of thrice