LEGAZPI CITY (15-Feb-2013/PNA) – With the recent launch of its campaign for the “provision of respectable and decent jobs in pursuit of growth and progress,” the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in Bicol is optimistic more Bicolanos will be employed this year.
This campaign is in line with the directives of Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz based on agreements reached during a recent employment planning conference held in this city, DOLE Regional Director Nathaniel Lacambra said here on Friday.
Lacambra said his office is working this year on strengthening its employment promotions program through jobs fair, utilization of the government’s official job portal–PHIL-Job Net, institutionalization of Public Employment Service Offices among local government units and widening the scope of the Special Program for the Employment of Students.
The agency will also vigorously pursue the establishment of a strong and working labor relations program through improved conduct of workplace inspection, technical assistance visit and the Single Entry Approach (SENA) in the conciliation and mediation of labor disputes, he added.
The SENA was established in pursuit of the goal of President Benigno Aquino III in his 22-point labor and employment agenda which provides for a 30-day mandatory conciliation-mediation efforts made operational through the Single Entry Assistance Desks.
It is a reform program that answers the President’s directive to the DOLE to “reform labor arbitration and adjudication systems by streamlining procedures, removing red tape, and at the same time, restore integrity and fairness in the system and to ensure that 98 percent of all pending labor cases are disposed of with quality decisions by April 2011.”
Lacambra said they are also seeing to it that employers follow the provisions of the Domestic Workers Act of 2012 or the Kasambahay Law and the strict implementation of DOLE Department Order (DO) 118-12 on the benefits of bus drivers and conductors.
Under the Kasambahay Law, employers are responsible for the safety of their domestic workers and shall provide a decent place for resting, at least three meals a day and hours of rest.
“They shall also be entitled to only eight hours of work otherwise overtime pay will be required if they have extended their hours of service,” he said.
The law, also known as Republic Act 10361 or An Act Instituting Policies for the Protection and Welfare of Domestic Workers signed by President Aquino on Jan. 18, institutes new minimum labor standards for domestic workers, covering minimum wage, regulation of work hours, leaves, social security, health insurance, and the provision of a written contract.
DOLE’s DO 118-12, on the other hand, requires operators of public utility buses to pay their drivers and conductors wages not lower than the prevailing minimum wage.
“We are also expediting this year the convergence of all programs of member-bureaus of the DOLE Regional Coordinating Committee in compliance with the directive from Sec. Baldoz for the convergence of all programs of the different agencies under DOLE to come up with a coherent approach in providing services to the people,” Lacambra said.
All these activities were firmed up during the four-day Employment Enhancement and Luzon Regional Operations Joint Conference held in this city last Jan. 16-19.
Lacambra also based his optimism on more jobs for Bicolanos this year on the trend established by the latest Labor Force Surveys conducted by the National Statistics Office (NSO) in the region.
The NSO October 2012 survey shows that employment rate in the region went up by 0.4-percentage point compared to the same period the previous year.
It settled at 95.1 percent, compared to 94.7 percent obtained in October 2011.
Unemployment rate dropped to 4.9 percent, correspondingly, the October survey shows.
The labor force participation rate or the proportion of those in the labor force to the population aged 15 years old and over also declined from 67.2 percent in October 2011 to 65.5 percent in October 2012, the survey added.
In fact, Lacambra said, Bicol’s employment trend could absorb all the over 26,000 fresh graduates in the region within the next two years.
He said that with the advent of more new investments that the region, particularly this city, is receiving in the Business Process Outsourcing sector, 40 percent of these latest graduates will be employed within this year and the rest may be placed in the succeeding two years.
Records of the regional office of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) here said Bicol had more than 26,000 students who graduated from various courses leading to college degrees in different schools across the region during school year 2011-2012.
DOLE-Bicol is using the CHED data in determining or devising strategies in addressing the unemployment trend brought about by the influx of new graduates, according to Lacambra.
“Our conservative projection based on the regional trend is that all these new graduates may land on gainful employments by 2014,” he added. (PNA)