Bus firms found violating labor laws, safety standards

Published by rudy Date posted on May 20, 2011

MANILA, Philippines – The Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) conducted a random inspection of different bus garages in Metro Manila on Friday to assess the working condition of drivers and other employees.

The group noted violations mostly in the occupational health and safety standards of the companies that were inspected. Dirty comfort rooms, unsanitary working areas, and other health risks were observed in most of the garages that were scrutinized.

The DOLE also noted several infringements of labor laws such as lack of worker benefits, non-payment of SSS, Pag-ibig, and Philhealth contributions, and below-minimum wages in some companies and cooperatives. The department said they will give the parties in question notices of violation.

Most alarming however is the over-extended work hours of many bus drivers, some of whom have to work for 18 hours a day. Despite the glaring safety risk, the DOLE said that this setup is legal under the commission system that is permitted by law.

“Part din ng inspection namin ay para makita kung may mga amendments na pwedeng gawin sa Labor Code. Definitely hindi tayo pabor sa mahabang oras sa trabaho ng mga driver kasi sila ang nagsusuffer, at delikado para sa mga pasahero at mga pedestrian,” said Atty. Benjo Benavides, assistant regional director of DOLE-NCR.

Bus drivers admit the extended work hours make them less alert on the roads, increasing the risk of accidents.

However, the commission system allows them to take home higher paychecks, sometimes hitting upwards of 1,000 pesos a day.

“Mahirap po talaga. Madalas nag i-energy drink na lang kami para labanan ang pagod at antok. Mas malapit sa aksidente,” said driver of 19 years Dondi Malapad.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino continues to advocate a fixed wage system for bus drivers as a way of averting the “chaos” of the commission system.

Tolentino was also elated to hear the news that bus driver Daniel Espinosa has surrendered to authorities in Davao.

Espinosa was the alleged driver of the Universal Guiding Star Bus that figured in an accident along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City last Friday, killing UP professor and journalist Chit Estella Simbulan.

“After one week, mabuti naman na sumuko na siya. Mas mabibigyang linaw ngayon kung ano talaga ang nangyari, kasama na yung anggulo na mas isa pang bus na involved sa aksidente,” he said.

Tolentino said more inspections of bus garages will be done in the coming weeks. –Atom Araullo, ABS-CBN News

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