“This is part of our aim of providing efficient, caring, and compassionate service. In order to do this, we believe that we must also give due attention to the situation of the employees.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA — The Department of Social Welfare and Development management and the DSWD-Social Welfare Employees Association of the Philippines (SWEAP) signed a landmark collective negotiation agreement (CNA) on Aug. 26, which recognizes the right of longtime workers hired under a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA).
Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo led the signing of the agreement described by union officers as “most significant” as it gives recognition to MOA-hired workers who are not considered regular or contractual, in spite of being in the agency for more than a decade.
Ferdinand Gaite, president of Confederation for the Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (Courage) hailed the CNA as a positive development for the 26,400-strong DSWD workforce, specially since MOA-hired employees comprise the biggest number of employees in DSWD at 18,000, regular employees are at 2,000 and contractual employees number 9,000.
This was the fifth CNA signed by DSWD and SWEAP. The first was signed in 2001 while the fourth and most previous one was in 2013. Employees’ associations are the term used for unions in the public sector.
Although there are gains in the DSWD’s new CNA, Gaite said these will be futile if the employees will not assert their rights. He said by experience, problems arise in the implementation of the CNA in most unions in the government.
“MOA-hired employees, contractual and regular employees should act collectively to assert their rights,” Gaite said.
Aside from recognizing MOA workers, the new CNA also gives more benefits to employees, and gives a boost to unionism and public service education.
MOA workers are important too
“This is significant because the management has recognized MOA workers and there is a commitment to make them regular employees, most specially the workers, assigned in centers, who have served for 20 years or more,” Manuel Baclagon, SWEAP president told Bulatlat in an interview.
The CNA gave Baclagon more reason to celebrate, as it was signed on his birthday on Aug. 26.
The MOA workers were classified by Taguiwalo as “regular” and “special.”
“Regular MOA” are those working in centers and institutions under DSWD for more than a decade, while “special MOA” are those who are working in programs, such as Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) and Kapit Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan–Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services–National Community Driven Development (Kalahi CIDSS-NCDDP).
“Regular MOA” workers receive lower salary than the “special MOA.” Both do not receive benefits, like 13th month pay and hazard pay.
“There is one MOA-hired employee who was stabbed by a fork, but she has no hazard pay so she did not get anything,” Taguiwalo said during the program. She said these workers are the ones who compassionately give services to the poor and yet get too little. “A house parent in one of the DSWD’s center has been taking care of 25 babies,” Taguiwalo said.
A provision in the CNA forms a task force to “work for the MOA-hired employees’ welfare and benefits, towards possible regularization or the provision of appropriate benefits as may be allowed by law.”
This is a joint effort of the Association and the management, Baclagon said.
The following are salient features of the three-year CNA:
– Enhanced welfare program for the employees to include the improvement of the day care center; the provision of breastfeeding facilities for the use of the staff and clients; provision of gender-responsive facilities; institutionalization of a non-handicapping environment for persons with disabilities; programs for the solo parents; and, the provision of a comprehensive retirement package;
– The Department, to the extent possible, shall continue to provide office space, equipment and personnel to all regional SWEAP chapters (one staff for regional chapter, and at least three personnel at the Central Office). The budget for this shall be included in the Work and Financial Plan of the Department;
– The provision of 120 association leaves for the national president; 50 days yearly for every other association national officer; 150 days yearly per association chapter (to be apportioned among themselves); and four days every year for every association member;
– The Department and the Association shall develop and implement a one-day mandatory “Serve the People” course for all DSWD employees that is consistent with the Department’s mandate;
Baclagon said these are part of the longtime vision of the association that only materialized under Taguiwalo’s term. Although provisions for the welfare of MOA-hired employees are included in the previous CNAs, however, it lacks commitment to make their conditions better.
“In the past it was all motherhood statements, now there are specific actions,” Baclagon told Bulatlat.
Taguiwalo also assailed the Performance-based Bonus which she said is divisive and discriminatory as it excludes MOA-hired workers.
“Pwede bang hatiin sa best, better and good ang isang ahensya na iniitsapwera ang mga MOA na syang katuwang natin para sa pagpapatupad ng vision and mandate ng ahensya? (Why do we have to classify agency workers into ‘best, better, good,’ and disregard MOA workers who are all part of implementing the vision and mandate of the agency?) Why are they not included in the PBB?” said Taguiwalo.
Recognition of the union
Taguiwalo said supporting the employees’ association “is also part of ensuring the provision of sincere public service.”
“This is part of our aim of providing efficient, caring, and compassionate service. In order to do this, we believe that we must also give due attention to the situation of the employees,” Taguiwalo said.
Taguiwalo pointed out, “Unionism is a recognition of the long struggle of previous workers for the development of the current labor force.”
Baclagon said this is what they have been pushing for: a genuine public sector unionism that also gives importance to the welfare of employees.