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No to 4-Day Work Week, Yes to 8 hours work, 8 hours recreation, 8 hours rest

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The Institute for Occupational Health and Safety Development (www.IOHSAD.org), opposes the House Bill 05237 or the Act Mandating Four-Day Work Week in Public and Private Sectors, Requiring Thereby Ten Hours of Work Daily and For Other Purposes proposed by Rep. Winston Castelo, as this will entail greater occupational health risks, increasing workers level of stress and fatigue and creating a maelstrom of health issues.

This was the position raised today by Noel Colina, Executive Director of IOHSAD, a non-profit, non-governmental organization working on Occupational Health and Safety in the Philippines. “A minimum of 10 hours per day of work will mean greater fatigue and stress for workers. If approved, this legal minimum can be extended and workers can be mandated to do a 2 hour overtime, raising the daily work hour to 12 or even more, based on the exemptions provided in Section 3 of the HB05237.”

According to Colina, in many workplaces, including export processing zones, 48 hours/week is the minimum as allowed by the Labor Code. “Article 83 of the Labor Code allows the 48 hours/week for workplaces. If the bill becomes law, workers will have to toil 12 hours/day just to meet the 48 hour quota. Add another 2 hours for commuting and a worker is left with only 10 hours to rest and spend time with the family and this is repeated over the years.”

“If the bill becomes law, we are only to expect a more stressed and fatigued workforce,” opined Colina. “Work-related stress is caused by prolonged work hours and too much work load. Some of the symptoms of stress are indecisions, which can increase chances of accidents, which are underscored by the recent cases of road incidents involving overworked bus drivers. Other symptoms are anxiety, depression, altered appetite, headache, backache, skin rashes and difficulty sleeping. Prolonged stress can lead to other complications like hypertension, coronary heart disease, ulcers and even cancer.”

“The objective of reducing expenses for the workers is good but the solution proposed by Rep. Castelo is inappropriate, as the repercussion of the proposal will only increase health care expenses and can stack up the cases of work-related accidents and diseases.” stated Colina. “If we are to follow the logic of the said proposal, if prices continue to increase, as is the case now, are we to continually decrease the workdays to reduce expenses?”

Colina also raised the issue of underemployment in the country. “Based on the Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics, in April 2011 there were 7.126 million Filipinos who were underemployed or those who are employed but still seeking more work. This 7 million Filipinos will not use the 5th or 6th day to rest but will be finding other ways to augment meager income. If we really want to address rising costs of living, why not increase the wages of the workers and check unabated increases in oil prices, which places tremendous pressure for prices of other commodities to rise.”