HELP FOR WORKERS. Department of Labor and Employment-Bicol Regional Director Ma. Zenaida A. Angara-Campita says on Tuesday (Jan. 18, 2022) their office has awarded a total of P48.097 million in labor case settlement claims to over 2,000 workers in the region. She said this was the result of their implementation of the agency's Single Entry Approach program that prevents labor disputes from becoming full-blown cases. (PNA file photo)

LEGAZPI CITY -- At least 2,223 workers in the Bicol region received a total of PHP48.097 million in settlement claims from labor dispute cases through the Department of Labor and Employment's (DOLE) Single Entry Approach (SEnA) program for 2021.

In a statement on Tuesday, DOLE Regional Director Ma. Zenaida A. Angara-Campita said the monetary award was the result of the dedication and efforts of Single Entry Approach Desk Officers (SEADOs) who managed to resolve existing labor disputes and other issues or complaints arising from employer-employee relations.

"Around 1,140 labor disputes were settled out of 1,254 requests for assistance (RFAs) through (SEnA) which resulted in the grant of PHP48 million in settlement benefits to 2,223 workers in the Bicol region. Isang patunay lamang po ito na hindi naging hadlang ang pandemya at iba pang pagsubok dulot nito upang maihatid natin nang mabilis at mahusay ang mga programa ng DOLE, kagaya ng SEnA program upang makuha ang nararapat na benepisyo ng ilang manggagawa mula sa kanilang nirereklamong kumpanya, sa tulong ng ating mga designated desk officers. (This only indicates that the pandemic and other challenges it has caused are not a hindrance to delivering fast and excellent DOLE services, like the SEnA program that enable workers to get the appropriate benefits from the companies they are complaining about, with the help of our designated officers)," Campita said.

She noted that about 91 percent of the total labor complaints filed by workers across the region were prevented from becoming full-blown cases under SEnA.

The DOLE Provincial Field Office (PFO) awarded more than PHP11.1 million to 675 workers in Camarines Sur; PHP9 million to 523 workers in Sorsogon; PHP24.1 million to 799 workers in Albay; PHP2.7 million to 158 workers in Camarines Norte; PHP937,737.21 to 60 workers in Catanduanes; PHP66,310.00 to five workers in Masbate; and PHP84,000.00 to three workers of the Technical Support Service Division (TSSD) of the regional DOLE office.

Campita noted that the average duration of labor case settlements is only five to six days.

“The SEnA encourages the use of conciliation-mediation to avoid costly litigation process,” she added.

With a sudden shift of service delivery due to the global pandemic, SEnA is now conducted virtually, thus parties no longer have to visit SEnA Desk Office to file an RFA.

Campita said more workers in the Bicol region now have heightened awareness of, and seen the value of adopting SEnA as an alternative mode in settling disputes rather than filing formal complaints against their employers.

SEnA is DOLE’s banner program that ensures all complaints first go through a 30-day mandatory conciliation and mediation period to exhaust possible means toward a fair settlement before they are referred for arbitration.

Most of the RFAs filed at DOLE Bicol and field offices constitute complaints on delay in the release of final pay, non-payment of 13th month and separation pays, underpayment of wages, non-payment of overtime, holidays, night shift differential, non-coverage to social protection such as Social Security System (SSS), Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) and Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG), and unauthorized cash bond and salary deductions.

With more than 2,000 assisted employees, Campita said she was happy with the result of their implementation of the SEnA Program during the last 12 months. (PNA)