No labor rep in rightsizing panel? Workers crying foul

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THE coalition of the country’s largest labor group on Sunday slammed the lack of labor representation in the committee, which will implement the proposed government rightsizing.

The Nagkaisa Labor Coalition expressed alarm over the composition of the Committee on Rightsizing the Executive Branch (CREB) under House Bill (HB) 7240 or the Rightsizing Bill.

“Under Section 7, there is no workers’ representation nor mandated consultation [with labor groups],” Nagkaisa Chairman and Federation of Free Workers (FFW) President Sonny Matula said in an SMS.

In the current version of the HB 7240, the CREB will be chaired by the Executive Secretary and the Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management and its members will include the Socioeconomic Planning Secretary who is also the National Economic and Development Authority director general, the chairperson of the Civil Service Commission and the Director of the Anti-Red Tape Authority.

Without any labor representatives in the CREB, Nagkaisa said the rightsizing could result in the “emaciation of rank-and-file workers, a bloated top, institutionalization of contractualization schemes, and the privatization of public services.”

“We call on the government to ensure workers’ representation as it is crucial that the voices and concerns of the workers are heard and addressed throughout the process as the same is guaranteed by the Constitution,” said Romeo Silva, who chairs the United Workers of Duty-Free Philippines-FFW.

Matula also expressed concern on Section 13 of HB 7240 containing the provision of those who will be affected by the National Government Rightsizing Program.

“Separation pay is inequitable and not sufficient as a safety net after separation from public service. Those who have less years of service have less separation pay,” Matula said.

Nagkaisa issued the statement after HB 7240 hurdled Second Reading at the House of Representatives last week.

“The coalition is calling on the House of Representatives [HoR] to exercise caution, avoid haste, and consult public sector workers before passing the bill on third reading and sending it to the Senate,” the coalition said.

Nagkaisa maintained the legislation is no longer necessary if President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. wants to implement a genuine rightsizing scheme in the government to streamline its workforce. “The government, particularly President Ferdinand Marcos Jr, already holds enormous power to make the bureaucracy more efficient, effective, and responsive to the needs of the people and does not need the Rightsizing Bill that prescribes mass retrenchment,” Nagkaisa said.

Aside from amendments in the provisions of HB 7240, Nagkaisa also pushed for the passage of the Public Sector Labor Relations Bill, which aims to boost the constitutional rights of government employees to self-organization, collective organization and peaceful concerted activities.

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