DOLE Eyeing Shorter Work Hours

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said Wednesday there will be no mass displacement in Mindanao amid the ongoing power shortage in the region.

Undersecretary Lourdes Transmonte made the reaction despite the increasing number of establishments which have reported a slowdown in their operations due to the frequent schedule brownouts.

Transmonte said that the DOLE is now eyeing to allow the affected establishments to implement shorter work hours for the affected establishments in Mindanao to cope with the energy crisis. "We already have a flexible and compressed work week every time there is an economic crisis or in this case an energy crisis. We are now guiding companies on how adopt this so there is no problem."

She said at least two establishments have applied for the reduction of their worker hours.

Under the Article 131 of the Labor Code, companies could implement alternative work schedules during exceptional cases with the consent of their workers. These could range from compressed workweek, gliding on flexi-time schedule, and flexi-holidays schedule.

This developed as Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) criticized President Benigno S. Aquino III for supporting the privatization of power plants in Mindanao, which is expected to raise the power charge in the region.

"Electricity should be considered by the government as a form of social service, which should be provided to the people at the lowest possible cost. Sadly, Aquino considers the Mindanao energy crisis only as a golden opportunity for capitalists to further boost their profits," KMU chairperson Elmer Labog said.

Also, the Joint Congressional Power Commission will make a follow-up assessment on the outcome of the energy summit recently held in Davao City to see if the demands and concerns that were raised at the meeting have so far addressed the worsening power crisis in Mindanao.

Sen. Sergio Osmeña III, who chairs the JCPC and the Senate Committee on Energy, said that he will schedule for a hearing once Congress resumes session on May 7 so senators would be briefed on any developments in the power situation in the region. "I will request for a briefing on the situation in Mindanao in May, once sessions resumes," Osmeña said.

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