Workers and Development
Workers: The Indispensable Element in Real Development
By Ms Glynnis Jean C. Casiño
President, Silliman University Staff Association
Secretary, Claire Isabel McGill Luce Auditorium
While the prediction of Karl Marx about the downfall of capitalism did not come true, his economic ideas which were basically derived from the classical economists like that of Adam Smith, still holds true today. Marx maintained that workers are the real producers of goods and services. In his theory of value he emphasized that labor is socially necessary.
Today, May 1, 2015, we once again celebrate Labor Day, recognizing and honoring our workers and employees who are the producers of wealth of our nation – the production of goods and services for which the real aggregate output (real Gross National Product) of a country is largely based.
We continue to uphold the basic tenet that human resources (labor) is the most important input to production. Hence, our workers deserve care and protection from government as well as society.
In the Philippines, the rights of workers are enshrined in the 1987 Constitution which guarantees the following: the right to humane conditions of work, reasonable wages, participation in policy and decision-making processes affecting workers’ rights and benefits. The fundamental law of the land also explicitly states the right to security of tenure, self-organization, collective bargaining and negotiations, and the right to peaceful concerted activities for workers.
Admittedly, employers have their rights, too, which include running their respective businesses in the manner they deem best. They also have the right to prescribe reasonable standards in the selection of their employees. However, let it be made clear, that the exercise of the so-called management prerogative does mean that employers are free to treat or handle their employees, because the law has defined the limits.
An employee who is considered as regular can only be terminated or dismissed on the grounds under authorized and just causes as provided for by law (Art. 282-284, Labor Code of the Philippines). The grounds for termination are exclusive. Hence, any termination or dismissal made by the employer not falling under either causes constitutes illegal dismissal. Moreover, the twin notice rule shall be observed if the dismissal is based on just causes otherwise, the employer is liable for damages in addition to back wages and separation payments. Likewise, if the termination of employee falls under the enumerated authorized causes, the employee shall be entitled to a separation pay and a notice must have been served to free the employer from any other liability.
The aforementioned are well-enshrined in our laws, and yet, cases of illegal dismissal in the country continue to mount. As a result, there is also a growing number of organizations which take the cause of the hapless workers and their representation in Congress has already been secured.