Press Release
March 3, 2020

Villanueva: Include labor education subject in college to help prevent abuse of workers

The poor showing of employers' compliance to labor standards in four regions in the country, which produce about half of college students in higher education institutions (HEI), could be traced to the lack of effort to educate them about their rights as they transition to the workforce, according to Senator Joel Villanueva.

Villanueva seeks to address this gap through Senate Bill No. 1218 which seeks to include labor education in higher education curriculum to equip students with essential knowledge on their rights as workers.

SBN 1218 is among the bills on labor education that will be heard today by the Committee on Higher, and Technical and Vocational Education, chaired by Villanueva.

"On social media alone, workers complain about alleged labor infractions of their employers. The growing docket of our National Labor Relations Commission is also a proof of the need to educate our workforce about labor standards, especially workers' rights," said Villanueva in a statement.

"By integrating labor education in the curriculum of higher education institutions, our government can further empower our workers in terms of exercising their rights, learning about the labor market, and having appropriate career guidance that will help them navigate the workplace," continued the senator, who also chairs the Senate labor committee.

Workers' rights include the following: assurance of security of tenure; payment of correct wages; weekly rest day; payment of wage and wage-related benefits; provision of welfare facilities; assurance of safe working conditions, and rights to self-organization and collective bargaining.

Data from the Bureau of Working Conditions (BWC) show that about seven in every 10 employers inspected last year (71.3 percent) in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, and Central Visayas are compliant with general labor standards.

The figure may not be necessarily considered high because the headcount of employers varies from one company to another, according to Villanueva.

"For example, if one noncompliant employer has 1,000 workers, that itself already presents a serious problem because the infractions against general labor standards may affect most, if not all their workers," Villanueva explained. "Naturally, employers should follow general labor standards."

Compliance of employers to the occupational safety and health (OSH) standards in the four regions are also concerning, according to BWC data. Compliance to OSH standards of inspected employers in Metro Manila was registered at 36 percent, while Calabarzon (35.2 percent) and Central Luzon (37.2 percent) likewise recorded poor scores.

Some 3.2 million students at HEIs, which include state universities and colleges, local universities and colleges, other government schools, and private HEIs, were enrolled during Academic Year 2018-2019, according to data from the Commission on Higher Education.

The higher education committee will also hear proposed measures on providing scholarships to medical students and the commemoration of the national higher education day every May 18 of each year.

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