THE removal of the jurisdiction of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in handling labor-related cases in economic zones is considered illegal.

The Department of Labor and Employment made the clarification amid concerns of labor groups that the proposed Alliance for Industrial Peace and Program Office (Aippo) will transfer the jurisdiction to the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III assured the groups that DOLE will remain the lead agency in handling labor-related cases in economic zones even under the proposed Aippo.

“We maintain our jurisdiction over labor disputes in Peza considering jurisdiction is conferred by law. Under the LC [Labor Code] it’s DOLE who has jurisdiction over labor disputes,” Bello told BusinessMirror in a SMS.

“Whatever alliance that will be formed, DOLE will still have jurisdiction over labor cases,” he added.

At the weekend, labor coalition Nagkaisa expressed alarm over the Aippo being proposed by PNP and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) as a threat to trade union rights.

“It will also lead to massive profiling of EPZ workers. In short, the MOA will institute a totalitarian regime ruled by the PNP,” Joshua Mata, secretary general of Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa said in a statement.

Nagkaisa chair and Federation of Free Workers (FFW) president Sonny Matula said the implementation of the Aippo will only worsen the working conditions of workers in EPZs.

“The real ‘industrial crimes’ which the Aippo purportedly wants to prevent are those perpetrated by Ecozone locators who violate workers’ rights to unionize, give low wages, provide slave-like conditions, disregard  occupational safety and health and do not pay the right taxes,” Matula said.

Partido Manggagawa (PM) chairman and Nagkaisa spokesperson Renato Magtubo said they are now demanding that government discard the proposed Aippo and respect existing laws, which respect labor rights.

“DOLE, Peza and labor and employers groups should endeavor to realize and  implement Peza laws pertaining to the formation of mechanisms aimed at attaining industrial peace and harmony in the ecozones,” Magtubo said.





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