Kalibo, Aklan -- Knowing their rights and the easy access to communication lines are just two of the reasons cited by the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) for the increase in the number of workers' complaints brought to the attention of this office here.
"If we compare the number of complaints of workers five years ago with the present figures now, we can say that there are more complaints now lodged by workers against their employers", said Virgilio Bautista, Labor Arbitration Associate of the NLRC here who single-handedly mans the office in Aklan, an extension of the regional office in Iloilo City.
Bautista also attributed the increase in workers' complaints to the global financial crisis, and in the case of Boracay Island, the off-season period. He emphasized, however, that it is now easier to bring workers' complaints to the doorstep of the NLRC office here just by telephone, citing that a telephone company does not charge long distance calls from Boracay to Kalibo and vice versa, and in all parts of the province covered by the company.
"Before, complaining workers will be disheartened just to bring their problems to the attention of the NLRC, especially if they come from Boracay, because they had to spend for transportation and be absent from their jobs. Now, they could just call my office to inquire, and if there is just cause to their complaints, then they could come here already to file," Bautista said.
Bautista clarified that the NLRC is not partial to workers, but also listens to the side of the employers, although he said many cases filed at his office favored workers, due to merits found in the cases.
According to him, employers also call his office often, to inquire about certain labor regulations, paving the way for a better employer-employee relationship as well as to be compliant to certain labor laws.
Illegal dismissal of workers especially in Boracay Island is mostly the reason why many workers file complaints against their employers, according to the NLRC.
With the current financial crisis experienced not only in the country but globally, Bautista called on employers not to be too harsh on their workers and effect outright dismissal when lapses are just minor ones.
"When lapses are just minor ones, employers could just suspend workers, and not fire them outright, as dismissal is like a prison sentence to a worker, including his family, who would also suffer and go hungry. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)