No DOLE inspections this season

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B Jimenez (The Freeman) - December 19, 2019 - 12:00am

If you and your staff are visited by some guys who pretend to be inspecting your company this Christmas, you may call the office of DOLE-7 Director Salome Siaton or Assistant Director Lilia Estillore. The agency phone number is (032) 253 0638. You should know that inspections are prohibited this Christmas season.

My good friend, DOLE Secretary Bebot Bello, before he left for Netherlands to see Chairman Joma Sison of the NDF/CPP/NPA, issued the order suspending labor inspections. Of course, all Labor secretaries really do this suspension to avoid corruption, masquerading as Christmas gifts. This tradition was started by Secretary Blas Ople in the seventies because there had been too many reports that inspectors had been using the DOLE secretary's visitorial power to exact money or expensive gifts from the employers and business owners. Well, of course, many bribes could be given masquerading as Christmas gifts.

We all know that before the Christmas season, all establishments have been inspected by so many inspectors doing either routine inspection or inspection triggered by a complaint. Routine inspection means that all employers are scheduled for visitation depending on the DOLE's order of priority. The establishments that are engaging the services of an agency or service contractors (sometimes called labor suppliers or manpower agencies) are high in DOLE's priority list. This administration is very aggressive in its drive against illegal labor-only contracting. The DOLE has ordered so many big companies, and even smaller ones, to absorb all the workers deployed by agencies.

Complaint inspections are those that are triggered by phone-in complaints or those reported through text or SMS, or emailed even by anonymous complainants. DOLE inspectors would knock at the doors of offices and at the gates of factories to verify how true that workers are not paid their minimum wages, that employers are not paying overtime pay, holiday pay, premium pay for work on rest day, special day and holiday. Most of all, many employers are not paid the correct amount of 13th month pay. Hotel and restaurant workers are not paid service charges, which is 100 percent now.

Also, DOLE is very active in its drive for safety and health of workers in the workplace. Fire hazards and obnoxious materials, chemicals and other corrosive and explosive elements may pose real and imminent danger to the health and safety of employees. DOLE inspectors will look for first aid cabinet, for health and safety log book, for fire exits and fire extinguishers. They would insist on personal safety equipment like safety shoes, masks, and hard hats whenever necessary. They will look for first aiders and safety officers with adequate training and they would require proofs that fire and earthquake drills are being done regularly.

But all these should be done after the Christmas season. This yuletide, labor inspectors should stay in the office and make their reports. They should not even call the employers or ask to meet them for a rendezvous somewhere. It is not enough that they are honest; they should avoid appearances where they could be suspected of anomalies. Inspectors, watch out; Santa Claus Bebot Bello is coming to town.


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