DOLE order ensures benefits to fisherfolk

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TAGAYTAY CITY: Days before she bows out of office, outgoing Labor Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis Baldoz gifted one of the most marginalized sectors, the fisherfolk, a lasting legacy that would ensure decent working standards for fishermen on board commercial fishing vessels.

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Baldoz disclosed here in anew conference over the weekend that she issued Department Order (DO) No. 156-16 Series of 2016 which provides the rules and regulations governing the working and living conditions of fishers working on fishing vessels engaged in commercial fishing operations.

“This is a boon to our fishers in the commercial fishing industry since the order sets employment standards, such as minimum wage, holiday and premium pay, additional premium pay, overtime pay, night shift differential pay, paid service incentive leave, and 13th month pay,” Baldoz said.

The order will take effect on 1 July 2016.

Baldoz’ directive applies to fishing vessel owners, fishers, and captains or masters on board Philippine-registered fishing vessels engaged in commercial fishing operation in Philippine or international waters.

Fishers covered by the new order are also entitled to paid maternity, paternity, parental, and solo parents leave, including paid leave of 10 of days if they are victims of violence pursuant to Republic Act No. 9262; paid leave for women who undergo surgery caused by gynaecological disorders; and retirement pay upon reaching the age of 60 pursuant to Republic Act No. 7641.

“The engagement of Filipino fishers must be bound by an employment agreement in a language or dialect understandable the workers, and delineating the living and working conditions on-board commercial fishing vessels. It must also contain the basic information of the worker, including the SSS, PhilHealth, and Pag-Ibig identification numbers,” Baldoz said.

The compensation structure, composed of wage, mandatory wage-related benefits, and productivity/performance-based pay; as well as the hours of work; leave benefits; health and social security benefits; separation and retirement pay; as well as other benefits provided under existing laws, are mandated to be stipulated in the employment agreement.

D.O. 156-16 also sets a minimum age of 18 for a fisherman to be qualified to work on-board commercial fishing vessels. Additionally, no fisher shall work on board a fishing vessel without a valid medical certificate issued by a public health facility or any medical facility duly accredited by the DOH Fishers must also be provided with adequate specific instructions and applicable basic safety and health training.

They shall be entitled to a break/time-off of not less than 60 minutes for their regular meals, an aggregate daily rest period of 10 hours per day, and to a rest period of not less than 24 consecutive hours after every six consecutive work days.

The compensation scheme for the fishing industry shall be consistent with the two-tiered wage policy that ensures minimum wage, mandatory wage-related benefits to fishers and encourages the voluntary adoption and implementation of productivity and/or performance-based pay.

WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL

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