Workers complain of unpaid benefits
By Manly M. Ugalde LEGAZPI CITY --- Several workers who have left their posts in a shopping mall here complained of not receiving refund of their illegaly deducted cash bonds despite compliance order issued by the Department of Labor and Employment as early as March 26, 2018. Last December 11, 2017, at least four workers of Legazpi City-based Gaisano Metro Mall went to the DOLE Regional Office here to be clarified about the P500 cash bond deducted from the payrolls every 15th and 30th day of the month. They said many of the workers who have already left after years of posting in the said mall until now failed to collect back their cash bond deductions despite repeated demands. The four workers who are sales clerks said many of the hundred other mall workers have more than a year cash bond collectibles. Following an investigation conducted by DOLE Bicol last February 2018, the workers’ alleged employer,named as Avail A Work Manpower Services based in Quezon City continues to ignore their demand for refund after having left their works. Worse, none of the representative or officer of the manpower services outfit would be present during two issued mandatory conferences set on February 27 and March 19, this year. This, despite a compliance order issued by then Bicol DOLE Regional Director Exequiel R. Sarcauga who had since been reassigned. The workers disclosed the manpower services outfit does not even have an office in Bicol and the only contact they have is through a cellphone number of the employer coordinator who seldom shows up inside the mall. Cellphone calls and text would not even merit any response, they said. In a letter-complaint to DOLE, the aggrieved workers said had originally applied directly at Gaisano Mall were they were given a form from Avail A Work Manpower Services to fill up without facing personally any personnel or official from that manpower services outfit. The workers said they receive their salaries through a bank issued Automated Teller Machine. Despite regular deductions for SSS and Pag-ibig contributions, they said they were not given their corresponding SSS number and cash bonds of P500 were deducted from their 15th and 30th day payrolls. At least 13 employees were initially mentioned in the DOLE compliance order who were entitled to receive payments from their employer totalling P112,821.74. One of the employees should have received a total of P33,728.00, according to the DOLE order. Almost five months have passed, however, none of those amounts were received by the workers concerned. Art Corbe, head of Dole Bicol Technical and Support Services Division, said DOLE is readying the issuance of Notice of Finality against Avail A Work Manpower Services that would be followed with a Writ of Execution. Asked for how long would it take to issue the Notice of Finality and Writ of Execution, Corbe could not give a timetable other than saying that their actions would depend on how long would it take for DOLE to receive the “proof of receipt” of their order from the complained employer, where the delay of the return card may be trough the postal service. The DOLE Compliance Order identified the workers as Sharon Anonuevo, Marissa Tomerio, Jerry Mendez, Donald Adornado, Jenny Lora, Madel Borromeo, Antonette Rivero, Marissa M. Octavio, Jerlyn Alilita, Mark Anthony Nuel, Gerick Arinan, and Anche Mendinilla. DOLE officials said requirement for cash bond has long been banned except for security guards which make them wonder where in the world the erring employer found courage to exact cash bond from the poor workers. The DOLE compliance order also showed Avail A Work Manpower Services liable for 1) delayed provision of payslip, 2) illegal deduction for uniform, cash bond, and losses, 3) non-payment of service incentive leave, and 4) non-payment of overtime. The complaining workers want President Duterte and Labor Secretary Bello to know their plight.