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NorMin fisherfolk get orientation on labor standards, OSH compliance

Department Order (DO) No. 156 of 2016, or the “Rules and Regulations Governing the Working and Living Conditions of Fishers on Board Fishing Vessels Engaged in Commercial Fishing Operation” mandates the compliance of the general labor standards and occupational safety and health in fishing vessels engaged in commercial fishing and that the sectors made part of the Department’s priority industries for inspection this year.

It can be recalled that DO 156-16 was issued by then DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz which took effect on 1 July 2016. Prior to its issuance, public consultations were conducted nationwide aimed to gather data and inputs from stakeholders while it was on its drafting phase. The said DO 156-16 aims to regulate the working and living conditions of the fishers in the vessels engaged in commercial fishing and make sure that their rights and benefits in the workplace are protected and respected.

The said order highlights employment standards, such as minimum wage, holiday and premium pay, additional premium pay, overtime pay, night shift, differential pay, 13thmonth pay, service incentive leave, social security benefits, and other benefits provided under existing laws. It covers all fishing vessel owners, fishers and captains or masters on board Philippine-registered fishing vessels engaged in commercial fishing operating in the Philippine or international waters.

To ensure compliance on this policy, the DOLE networks with regulating bodies of the government, such as: Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources-10 (BFAR-10), Maritime Industry Authority-10 (MARINA-10), and the Philippine Coast Guard. Regulatory and mandatory functions include: regularization of issuance of license, certification, insurance of proficiency standards, and strict enforcement of fishing, maritime, coast guard and fish port laws and regulations. During the forum, representatives of the said government agencies manifested proactive support not only because of their presence but expressed their commitment to better implement the directive.

Highlights of the forum were the salient features of DO 156-16 and the checklists for the assessment of worker's conditions in commercial fishing vessels. The open forum elicited oppositions from the employers’ group or operators relating the need of consultations and discussions on the policy, payment of minimum wage and other wage-related benefits. In response, DOLE committed to initiate consultations/discussions with the fishing vessel operators per province prior to the conduct of inspection to ensure them of their preparedness and assist them in complying with the general labor standards and occupational safety and health standards in a manner that they will understand the thrust of the government in pursuing its mandate.

During the discussions, the fishers were also encouraged to avail the DOLE’s livelihood program as their alternative source of income during the lean season where fish-workersare among the eligible beneficiaries of the DOLE Integrated Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program or DILEEP.

DOLE-10 Regional Director Atty. Joffrey M. Suyao emphasized social protection through SSS, Philhealth and Pag-ibig to all workers in the fishing industry covered by commercial fishing. He also emphasized the need to recognize the right of labor to its just share in the fruits of production. Moreover, he urged all stakeholders from the government sector compliance as a preparation prior to the conduct of inspection. DOLE-X Regional Office and its Provincial Field Offices are open for any query or request for assistance regarding the issue.

In closing, DOLE-10 Officer in Charge-Assistant Regional Director Estrella U. Pahalla shared the same experience in the public bus transport industry wherein an order was also issued and how the Department assisted the industry to be compliant with labor standards. She assured that with the fishing industry, the approach will be developmental and that DOLE will find ways how to make things better for the fishers and fishing vessel operators. (Mildred E. Dablio with additional reports from Clifford A. Reyes/DOLE-10)

 

Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) region 10 Officer in Charge-Assistant Regional Director Estrella U. Pahalla assures the fishing industry with developmental approach and will find ways how to make things better for the fishers and fishing vessel operators. (DOLE10)

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