FILIPINO employers called on the government to take the lead in digital transformation, massive upskilling and reskilling of the Filipino workforce, and green jobs creation and preservation, among others.
As the employers convened through the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP)’s 43rd National Conference of Employers (NCE) in Pasay City on August 24 and 25, they laid out the conference resolutions they will submit to President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.
One of the resolutions focuses on enhancing productivity by implementing flexible work arrangements.
“To create an environment that will encourage more inflows of investments, remove red tape, allow ease and flexibility of doing business, protect employers’ rights to manage their business and their workforce, and encourage productivity improvement by supporting alternative and flexible work arrangements,” read the Conference resolutions document released by ECOP on Thursday.
The organization of employers also underscored the importance of taking a whole-of-nation approach in addressing jobs-skills mismatch, which they said will help the Filipino workforce be globally competitive.
“To take an ‘all of government’ and ‘all of society’ approach in addressing job-skills mismatch in close collaboration with the private sector by improving the basic education, higher education, and skills training systems that can help develop a world-class and globally competitive Filipino workforce equipped with 21st century skills,” the document read.
The employers also expressed hope that the government will help ensure business resiliency and sustainability by working closely with businesses and employers in addressing critical problems such as joblessness, poverty, high cost of living, food insecurity, and environmental degradation.
As the workplace transitions to the new and better normal, ECOP also wishes to collaborate with businesses and employers in creating a workplace “that complies with ethical, social, health and labor standards; that promotes innovation, sustainable practices, diversity, equity, and inclusion utilizing bipartism, tripartism, and voluntary modes of dispute resolutions, thereby resulting in an environment of lasting industrial peace and harmony.”
The urgent call to action was approved by ECOP Chairman of the Board Edgardo G. Lacson, ECOP President Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr. , and Chair of NCE 43 Antonio Sayo on August 25.
PBBM assures priority
In his speech at the first day of the 43rd NCE on Wednesday, which was read by Labor and Employment Secretary Bienvenido E. Laguesma, President Marcos took note of the private sector’s demands, as he considers them a crucial government partner for economic development.
Marcos said the three major sets of issues in the employers’ agenda are included not only in Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)’s priorities, but in the development priorities of the government as a whole.
Foremost on the agenda from business groups is for the government to come out with “reasonable regulations” for alternative work arrangements, the effective use of the wage fixing mechanism and promotion of productivity.
The groups are also pushing to upskill workers for the demands of the 21st century workplace through “responsive training courses and certification standards,” and improving the labor market and employment facilitation networks as well as to set up help desks to support start up businesses and their workers.
The President said he hopes the NCE will help the private sector come out with “doable solutions,” which can be included in the 2023-2028 Philippine Development Plan and DOLE’s National Labor and Employment Plan.
Moreover, Marcos said the government will consider integrating appropriate responses and measures to these issues in the PDP that the National Economic and Development Authority headed by Secretary Arsenio Balisacan is currently formulating.
As for the regulatory efforts of the Labor department, Laguesma said on Wednesday that he wants the new implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act (RA) No. 11165 or the Telecommuting Law to be finalized before September 12, 2022.
The said law aims to protect the rights of workers and promote their welfare, especially in the light of technological developments that have opened up new and alternative avenues for employees to carry out their work, such as telecommuting and other flexible work arrangements.
Trade Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual, for his part, also believes that the amendment of the IRR of the Telecommuting Act could be an expedient solution to address work from home issues.
To ensure genuine stakeholder representation in the drafting of the government employment masterplan, Malacañang vowed to fast-track the release of the new employer and labor representatives in tripartite bodies.
Executive Secretary Victor D. Rodriguez made the commitment during his keynote address at the second day of the 43rd National Conference of Employers (NCE) on Thursday.
“I was informed by [Labor] Secretary Benny Laguesma that many of these [tripartite] groups need to be reconstituted. And upon his request the employer and labor sectors have submitted their nominees and the dole is preparing their corresponding recommendations,” Rodriguez said.
“Today (Aug. 25), this afternoon I give you the assurance that once these are submitted, the Office of the President will consider and act on the recommendations with appropriate dispatch,” he added.
Rodriguez stressed the importance of tripartite dialogue for the crafting of the PDP for 2022 to 2028 and the National Labor and Employment Plan (NLEP).
He said the PDP will serve as the master plan of the administration for its socio-economic-agenda in the short and medium turn, while the NLEP will complement its labor provisions.