Seven reasons why the Labor Code needs to be abrogated

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

The Labor Code of the Philippines is the only remaining major piece of fundamental legislation concocted under the Marcos martial law dictatorship that has managed to survived 47 long years. Today it has become the most outrageous monstrosity, created by a dictatorial regime, it also is an anachronism in today's globalized economy and borderless labor markets and socio-economic arena. The time has come to discard this most irrelevant, unresponsive, and even damaging framework of labor-management relations.

We have launched a movement for the overhaul of the Labor Code, and for the adoption of a new Magna Carta of Filipino Human Capital. We have plenty of reasons but we will focus only on seven due to space limits. First, the Labor Code is a decree created by a one-man rule. It does not reflect the voice of the people, and has no place in burgeoning democracy. We are fighting a modern warfare of competition in a very harsh global arena using a medieval weapon, a spear, against the ultra-modern DLC and intercontinental missiles of our competitors. We disable ourselves by insisting to hold on to this most fundamental labor code which disables us from competing in the world economy. Second, it is a topsy-turvy, disorganized, “tapal-tapal” disarray of disjointed and poorly-arranged edicts that is without underlying much less unifying philosophy.

Third, Book One promotes outward migration and supports an endless diaspora of much-needed human capital. Instead of building a strong domestic economy and labor market, the code motivates our talents to become overseas workers. Because of the Labor Code, our country has become the number one supplier of domestic helpers in the whole world, the modern version of slave trade. Fourth, Book Two focuses on technical vocational training, with no emphasis on building a cadre of high-level managers, executives, and scientists, artists, and inventors. We have put our people in a small box with low levels of aspiration.

Fifth, Book Three created a wage system that is inflexible without regard to the levels of productivity and financial capability of enterprises. There is one minimum wage for giants and behemoths like SMC as well as micro and small startup business ventures.

Sixth, the government makes too much obtrusive, and even destructive interventions in business management. Employers do not have freedom to decide on fundamental management prerogatives like manpower planning, status of employees, and obstructs decisions and business judgments on outsourcing jobs. The government intrudes into private domains of business with no judicial warrants as if inspectors are like guardia civiles imposing their caprices on professional managers regarding how to run the business operations, and how to decide on hiring, firing, and disciplining of people. Ours is the only labor law in the ASEAN that makes the DOLE the virtual and de facto business owners as it allows DOLE directors to override the decisions of property owners on how to operate their enterprises. We are no longer under martial law. This should stop.

Seventh, the Labor Code promotes delays, corruption, and inefficiencies in labor dispute resolution, letting giant law firms earn millions while workers and employers languish in anger and want while waiting for 20 years for simple cases to be resolved. For 47 years, we have suffered so much. The time has come to remove this yoke on our national shoulders. Let us abrogate this martial law decree. Now.


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