IN light of the series of road mishaps involving public utility vehicles (PUVs) in the country, a lawmaker has filed two proposed measures that seek to enhance the PUV drivers’ skills and competence and provide them better compensation to prevent them from competing with other drivers.
Senate Bill 1378 or the proposed “Comprehensive Assistance Program for Public Utility Vehicle Drivers Act” proposed by Senator Jinggoy Estrada, requires all PUV drivers to undergo continuous Education and Skills Development Training Program to be provided by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) in coordination with the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC).
The training program for public utility vehicle drivers is aimed at enhancing their basic and advanced driving competencies, and knowledge on maintenance procedures, driving preparation and post-driving procedure, road safety rules and accident response procedure.
Aside from skills development the bill also seeks to have all public utility bus drivers covered by the Social Security System (SSS), Philippine Health Insurance System (Philhealth), Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG), and Employees Compensation Commission (ECC).
Estrada, in filing the bill, also wants to implement a livelihood and credit assistance under Land Transportation Office (LTO) and in coordination with the Cooperative Development Authority “to improve their socio-economic condition.”
Estrada believes that by arming PUV drivers with the right skills and attitude on the road accidents can be prevented, if not, reduced.
At the same time Estrada is also pushing for the institutionalization of fixed monthly salaries and better working conditions for the public utility bus drivers, in an effort to promote road safety, improve traffic flow and prevent deadly highway accidents.
Senate Bill 1372 or the “Bus Drivers and Conductors Compensation Program” aims to provide PUV drivers monthly salary not less than the prevailing minimum wage rate with benefits and incentives.
Estrada who chairs the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development, says that under the current boundary and commission-based compensation, bus drivers outdo and compete with each other and with limited working hours in drawing commuting passengers to ensure a decent daily take home pay for the family.
The senator expressed belief that the current compensation setup for drivers breeds a number of inconvenient and unsafe travel conditions for road users like clogged road lanes due to indiscriminate loading of passengers, buses beating speed limits, drivers stretching the work hours for ‘bonus’ pay, among others.
“A simple computation will show that drivers currently earning P900 a day and working more than 12 hours a day for three days a week will receive almost the same income based on the minimum wage for working eight hours a day for six days a week. The difference is that under the proposed act, drivers will get enough rest while operators will spend almost the same amount for salaries,” said Estrada.
Violators of the law shall be meted out a fine of 100,000 to 200,000 pesos, and suspension of the franchise to operate.
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on 2012 issued DOLE Order 118-12 requiring bus companies to be “labor law-compliant” (LLC) before being issued a franchise by the Land Transportation Franchise and Regulatory Board (LTFRB). However only a few bus companies complied with the order. JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA