By ALDWIN QUITASOL
A few days ago, big business represented by the Employers’ Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) with the help of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) said that, in their analysis, about 1 million workers will not receive their Christmas bonuses.
This they declared, after the Arroyo administration boasted recently that the country’s economy is booming.
For a low-paid worker, this is bad news and means another sad Christmas for his family. If he will add up all the expenses he needs to celebrate Christmas, considering the rising prices of basic commodities, his 13th month pay surely won’t be enough. And often, his 13th month pay benefit is not paid.
For greedy businessmen – since many businessman don’t feel obliged to be fair to their employees – this means Hallelujah as they will be relieved of their obligation to give 13th month pay to their workers.
Giving Christmas bonuses is not really compulsory for employers, since it is within their discretion whether to give such bonuses or not. In practice, employers give bonuses out of the “spirit of sharing.”
One businessman said, “Christmas is still far off,” so why all the fuss. But for workers, this may signal a more disappointing scenario this coming Christmas. It’s like a “pre-emptive strike” to workers who expect lawful benefits especially for traditional holidays like Christmas. If business spokesmen say that workers should not expect their Christmas bonuses, we can expect them to say the same on the 13th month pay.
The giving of 13th month pay is mandated by the country’s Labor code. In contrast, employers can scrap Christmas bonuses any time they want – unless their firms are unionized and covered by Collective Bargaining Agreements which include Christmas bonuses among workers’ benefits. In such cases, workers can charge employers who don’t give out bonuses for violating their CBA.
Yes it’s true, malayo pa naman ang krismas (Christmas is still far off) but workers are rightfully alarmed even now. If the ECOP and PCCI forecast comes true, their supposed krismas will turn into a krisismas. #