Interagency body to study bus drivers’ working conditions

Published by rudy Date posted on May 19, 2011

MANILA, Philippines—Bus drivers should avoid working 14 hours a day to prevent accidents on the road, particularly Commonwealth Avenue, a ranking labor official said Thursday.

According to Labor Undersecretary Lourdes Trasmonte, the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) has formed an interagency team to study how to improve the health, earnings and working conditions of bus drivers.

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, meanwhile, said that she would later issue a department order based on the team’s recommendations and consultations.

“We really need these reforms to avoid further accidents. They work for so long. That’s why they’re very tired and are prone to accidents because of these … working conditions,” Trasmonte said.

“You yourselves, do you want to work for 14 hours? That’s not normal,” she added.

Trasmonte said the team would be composed of officials from the National Wages and Productivity Commission, the Bureau of Working Conditions and the Institute for Labor Studies.

“They will make this study and then consult with the bus operators and drivers. They will look into the proposal that [bus drivers should receive a fixed rate] and their working hours should also be fixed,” Trasmonte said.

“The fixed rate should be above minimum wage. Some bus companies are already giving salaries over and above the minimum wage plus benefits,” she added.

Baldoz said the team would also look into additional incentives for drivers so that they would be more careful in their driving.

“We’re going to conduct [a study] to have [an] idea how much they really earn on a commission basis. We need to study the different dimensions of their problems,” Baldoz told reporters.

“The idea is if there will be a change in the system of fixing their wage, then there should be nondiminution of existing benefits. We will constitute the committee that will study it,” she added.

“If they can finish the study within the month, the findings and recommendations will be subject to consultation with all stakeholders. And if we have a consensus of what is good for everybody—the bus operators, drivers, and the public—then we can issue the department order,” she said. –Philip C. Tubeza, Philippine Daily Inquirer

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