Employees take center stage for Paul Santos, president of the Philippine Retailers Association (PRA) as he strongly batted for employers to observe proper treatment of their workforce and ensure their well-being in all aspects in order to make for a more harmonious working relationship and establish an upgraded business climate in the country.
Santos reiterated the call of President Rodrigo Duterte to strictly respect the rights of employees by giving what is properly due them in terms of wages, benefits, and working conditions and avoid exploitation and abusive treatment.
In an interview with reporters held at the sidelines of the PRA Outstanding Filipino Retailer 2016 (Cebu chapter), Santos bewailed the controversial contractualization practices and declared that employees deserve to earn the minimum wage and other full benefits on their first day of employment.
End of contract hiring is unfortunately practiced widely in the country wherein companies replace a vast majority of their labor force every five months in order to avoid the regularization of their employees on the sixth month, which would have translated into full employee benefits, job tenure, and higher salaries.
Among the most commonly affected jobs here are sales, wait and janitorial staff, assembly line workers, and the like who are on the receiving end of vastly lower salaries, poor employee morale, extended working hours, and job pressures to maintain a positive working attitude.
The PRA head also batted for lower income taxes for the lower and middle income wage earners, and higher income taxes for the wealthier classes in order to establish a more just taxation system which draws more from the haves and less from the have-nots.
“The more they earn, the more taxes they should pay. It is unfair that the lower and middle classes pay their taxes religiously while the rich pay only a fraction of the real figures,” he told the media gathered at the Cebu City Marriott Hotel.
The present taxation scheme however results in widespread injustice wherein the low and middle-income wage earners constitute the bulk of tax revenues since the rich usually get away with paying higher taxes by arranging shady deals with unscrupulous government officials on a regular basis.
Regarding the14th month pay which was recently proposed by a senator, Santos disclosed that this depends on the financial health of the company, requires further study, and may even need consultations with Congress in order to complete the picture.
He added that if proven not applicable to certain firms due to lower profits and unstable financial standing, the employees may receive non-monetary benefits and compensation to make up for the absence of the cash benefit.
The event also witnessed the awarding of top Cebu-based retail companies in various categories. These are Twinbee Print Ads for advertising category, Habagat Outdoor Equipment for fashion category, Lantaw Restaurant headed by Bunny Pages, Aerophone for gadgets category, and Cebu Home Builders
Center for Home Improvement Category.
By RICHARD RAMOS