DOLE keeps mandate over ecozone labor rows–PEZA

Published by rudy Date posted on September 27, 2021

BY TYRONE JASPER C. PIAD, Manila Times, 27 Sep 2021

THE proposed Alliance for Industrial Peace and Program (AIPP) retains the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) jurisdiction over labor dispute settlement, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) clarified.

The regulator of economic zones, in a recent statement, said that AIPP—which is in partnership with the Philippine National Police (PNP)—does not intend to “remove jurisdiction over labor disputes from the [DoLE] nor aims to prejudice the constitutional and statutory rights of workers.”

PEZA explained that the AIPP aims to replace the now-defunct Joint Industrial Peace Council whose primary objective is to preempt and prevent crimes within ecozones and to maintain peace. The council seeks to protect the labor rights of the employees, as well as their lives and property, it added.

“Peace and security are important factors of investment to all PEZA-registered enterprises so they can be viable with their operations in the Philippines as they compete in the global market,” PEZA Director General Charito Plaza said.

“Through the AIPP and its IRR [implementing rules and regulations], we believe this will harness the ease of doing business [EODB] in our zones as we implement the township concept and help provide a safe and secure ecozone environment for all of the Filipino and foreign workers, locators, and investors in ecozones,” she added.

Plaza stressed that the agency considers the protection of the environment and right of the labor force as “non-negotiables.”

“PEZA assures that its policies are aligned with that of the DOLE and International Conventions and Trade Policies, particularly in the areas of Human Rights, Labor, Environmental Protection, and Good Governance,” she said.

Last week, the Labor department said that it is illegal to remove its jurisdiction over labor-related cases in economic zones, which is among the concerns raised with the proposed AIPP.

Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III, in an interview with the BusinessMirror, assured workers that it will still be the lead agency to handle such cases.

(Read related story: DOLE keeping jurisdiction over ecozone labor disputes, https://businessmirror.com.ph/2021/09/20/dole-keeping-jurisdiction-over-ecozone-labor-disputes/)

For its part, Peza said it continues to implement measures and policies protecting the constitutional and statutory rights of workers in the ecozones.

The regulator has conducted labor-related seminars and training to raise awareness about the employees’ and managements’ rights, duties and obligations. For some of its units, Peza also extends labor-related assistance, including dispute settlement and guidance in the proper exercise of the right to organize and bargain collectively, among others.

According to latest Peza data, there are more than 70 unions in the ecozones nationwide with 22,372 members.

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