The 10 cardinal defects of the Labor Code

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez - The Freeman

The world today is totally different compared to 1974 when the Labor Code was promulgated by a constitutional dictator. It is time that we laid to rest this anachronism of today's emerging realities. It is a presidential decree, not being an act of congress, and does not represent the collective will of the people.

The Labor Code has served its purpose for 46 years, but is unable to protect the competitiveness of our economy using a totally anti-developmental legal framework. It drives away investors while failing to protect the fundamental rights of the working class. It has deprived businessmen and property owners their basic management prerogatives and failed to deliver labor justice that is speedy, expeditious, inexpensive and accessible. Thus, Congress today must overhaul this fundamental law that governs the relationship between labor and employers. I have been asked to help in this endeavor, and I am currently helping draft a replacement code for our human capital.

I have identified twelve cardinal defects of the Labor Code. First, book one is practically abetting brain drain by putting much emphasis on outward labor migration. A giant bureaucracy, POEA, is funded with billions of public money to assist recruiters lure our much-needed human capital to work for other countries, and deprive our own industries the much needed human capital. Second, book two focuses only on technical and vocational training whose graduates are largely potential OFWs. TESDA becomes the virtual training feeding outward migration, with no program to serve our local needs.

Third, book three abets a wage system that is not productivity-based. Fourth, the law on legitimate service contracting is being used to disable our local employers to compete with other ASEAN economies, by infringing on their prerogatives to enter into competitive work arrangements. Fifth, the visitorial powers of DOLE is a martial law interference of management prerogatives and had caused disruptions of industrial peace under the guise of workers' protection. Sixth, book four allows a death and disability compensation system that is anti-labor and anti-business. The SSS and ECC, along with PhilHealth and Pag-ibig, have all miserably failed in their missions.

Seventh, the labor relations systems are highly adversarial, confrontational and very inefficient. The western models of compulsory arbitration in book five should be replaced by an Asian model of conciliation and mediation and voluntary arbitration, in faithful adherence to the mandate of the constitution. Eighth, the dispute settlement mechanisms should be overhauled. Why does it take 20 years to resolve an illegal dismissal case? Ninth, the just and authorized causes for termination should be clarified along with due process. There are too many confusions abetted by conflicting jurisprudence.

Tenth, the present labor code is disorderly, hodgepodge and does not have a unifying philosophy. The author, a great man, Blas F/ Ople, created a beautiful magnum opus. But the series of disjointed amendments have mangled it and made it a big mockery of the vision and guiding credo of the author. It is time to repeal it and replace it with a new magna carta for labor.


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