Voting 22-0-0, senators approved on third and final reading Monday, February 22, the bill that would mandate the inclusion of labor education in the curriculum of universities, colleges and skills training centers.
In thanking his colleagues for passing the Senate Bill No 1513, Senator Joel Villanuava, chairman of the Senate labor committee and sponsor of the measure, lamented that workers have resigned to allowing reductions in their wages and benefits than lose their jobs during the pandemic.
“Marami po sa ating mga manggagawa ang masasabing mahirap magdemand sa kanilang mga labor rights ngayon, mas mainam na raw pong bawasan ang sweldo nila kaysa naman po wala na silang trabaho (Many of them are saying that it’s difficult to demand about their labor rights nowadays, that it’s better to have their salaries reduced that losing their jobs),” he said during their plenary session.
“Okay na raw talikuran ang kanilang karapatan basta may trabaho (That it’s okay to turn their backs on their rights as long as they keep they jobs),” he later added.
The bill defines labor education as “the teaching of basic knowledge on labor rights and other skills relating to negotiations, fostering smooth interpersonal relations in the workplace and mechanisms for redress of grievances and other concerns.”
All higher education institutions in the country will be mandated to integrate labor education in their curriculum as part of an elective course. While the proposed law will not impose a specific number of hours or units for the labor education elective, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) shall make sure that universities and colleges will comply with the required inclusion.
The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) will also be mandated to come up with modules on labor education and encourage technical-vocational education institutions to include it in their courses. Villanueva said this will particularly benefits overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
“Mahabang proseso po ang edukasyon pero malaki ang magagawa po nito para imulat ang mga manggagawa at negosyante sa kanilang mga karapatan o obligasyon, may pandemya man po o wala (Education is a long process but this will significantly help in making workers and businesses aware about their rights and obligation, with or without a pandemic),” Villanueva said.
“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.