By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Senator Joel Villanueva hailed the Senate approval on third and final reading the measure that, if enacted into law, would require tertiary education institutions and tech-voc training institutes to integrate labor education subjects in their general education curriculum.
“We are one step closer to an empowered workforce, one where both employer and employee are informed of their respective rights under the law. Sa ganitong paraan, mababawasan po natin ang mang-aabuso at maaabuso, dahil alam ng isa’t isa ang karapatan nila bilang negosyante at manggagawa,” said Villanueva, chair of the Senate committee on higher and technical and vocational education and sponsor of Senate Bill No. 1513.
“We often enter the workforce – both as worker and employer – without sufficient knowledge on labor laws to protect and respect labor rights. Lalo na po ngayon sa panahon ng pandemya. Marami pong negosyo ang nagsara, marami pa ang nawalan ng trabaho. At ang ilan sa kanila, hindi na nakuha ang benepisyong nararapat sa kanila,” the former TESDA chief noted. “Ngayong may pandemya, maraming manggagawa ang hindi na lang nagrereklamo. Marami ang binawasan ng sweldo pero walang narinig na angal ang kanilang employer. Okay ng talikuran ang kanilang karapatan basta may trabaho.”
Villanueva said that labor rights violations are rampant in the workplace, and the Labor Education Act or Senate Bill No. 1513, which consolidated related bills on labor education, hopes to address this injustice. The measure will require universities and colleges to integrate labor education into the general education curriculum as an elective. It also mandates TESDA to include labor education in their training regulations.
“We need labor education in our schools to equip both workers and employers with the right labor information so that they will become better partners in attaining and maintaining harmonious labor-management relationships,” the lawmaker said. “Our curriculum should help our future workers and employers make deeper and fuller understanding of their labor rights and responsibilities. The passage of this Bill on 3rd reading is a step towards that direction.”
“This bill also hopes to promote a culture of compliance to our existing labor laws, which seek to protect both the worker and employer from abuses. This measure seeks to shelter workers from unfair labor practices, illegal dismissals, occupational safety and health issues in the workplace, and other violations,” he further explained.
The senator said the enactment of this measure is especially important during the pandemic, and the fact that the country is also a great source of overseas workers.
“Pati po yung mga OFWs natin na papasok sa trabaho sa ibang bansa, madami po silang matututunan kapag mayroon nang labor education subjects sa kolehiyo man o tech-voc training institutes,” Villanueva added.
The measure defines labor education as the “teaching of labor rights, workers’ welfare and benefits, core labor standards, labor laws and regulations, the national and global labor situation, labor market concerns, labor issues, overseas work and related problems, the nature of human labor, the role of labor in the self-realization of the human being, the foundations of the dignity of labor, and other topics related to labor and employment.” (AI/MTVN)