Tuesday, March 29, 2005

4-day week saves P114M


The government expects to save some P144 million when its offices carry out the four-day workweek schedule on April 4.

Acting Budget Secretary Mario Relampagos said on Monday that the P144 million represents 10 percent of the government’s 2005 budget for electricity, water and fuel consumption.

Relampagos said the four-day schedule will take effect until May, but if it is successful, he will recommend its extension to President Arroyo.

Under the schedule, state employees will work 10 hours daily from Monday to Thursday.

But 30 percent, or 420,000, of 1.4 million state workers will not be covered by the new schedule, Relampagos said. Exempted are the military, police, firemen, Coast Guard, hospital and health services, emergency and calamity services, and the Bureaus of Customs and of Internal Revenue.

Officials from the energy and budget departments and the Office of the Executive Secretary met Monday to discuss the implementing rules of the reduced workweek.

Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla and Relampagos said the salary of daily wage earners will not be affected by the new schedule.

“They will continue to be paid on the basis of a five-day work­week, so they do not lose their pay for the fifth day as long as they are able to render 10 hours of work a day for the rest of the four days,” Relam­pagos said.

The government urged private companies to come up with their own energy-saving measures.

Energy Undersecretary Peter Anthony A. Abaya said the shortened workweek will be carried out from April to May, when electricity consumption tends to rise because of the increased use of air conditioners, electric fans and other cooling appliances and devices.

“We also expect more savings through reduced traffic congestion due to one day-off and off-peak driving hours on regular days,” Abaya said.

Government employees are also expected to save an average of around P40 a day, he added.

Business groups supported the four-day workweek, saying the bill will bring relief to employers and workers alike.

In an interview Rene Soriano, president of the Employers’ Confederation of the Philippines, said the modified work schedule, besides reducing power use, will also result in other savings.

Workers, he said, will save on weekly transportation cost since they will be required to go to work for fewer days, but on longer work schedules.

They will also spend less for their personal allowance, which will include meals and other miscellaneous spending.

Sergio Ortiz-Luis of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the reduced workweek will also allow the government to save on other utilities.

Ortiz-Luis said a similar proposal was raised in 2004 by the private sector.

He said private companies, especially those in the electronics and semiconductor sectors, may also adopt a similar work schedule to cut expenses.

Ortiz-Luis said start-ups for electronics and semiconductors are very costly and doing it a day less would also give companies enough savings.

Soriano agreed with Ortiz-Luis that the private sector may adopt the four-day workweek.

He cautioned that amendments in the Labor Code must be made to allow more companies to adopt the shorter workweek.

Soriano said some provisions in the Labor Code specify that workers be paid for overtime if they exceed the normal 8-hour-a-day schedule.

He said the provisions should be amended to allow companies to offset the exceeding working hours, without having to pay overtime rates.

The Manila Electric Co. reminded consumers to use electricity wisely during the summer months.

Meralco said simple but often neglected energy saving tips are a big help in lowering electricity use most especially in households.

Tips such as using compact fluorescent lights instead of incandescent bulbs, doing the ironing at one time and opening refrigerators only when needed will help a household save electricity, Meralco said in a statement.

Appliances operate more efficiently and use less energy when they are in good working order

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