Officials seek 4-day workweek, extended WFH as fuel prices soar

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 16 2022 02:34 PM

A merchant associate for a financial technology company works from his home in Quezon City on March 18, 2020, amid the enhanced community quarantine for the whole of Luzon. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News
A merchant associate for a financial technology company works from his home in Quezon City on March 18, 2020, amid the enhanced community quarantine for the whole of Luzon. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — Authorities have called for a 4-day workweek and an extended remote work set-up, in a bid to cushion the soaring pump prices' impact to the commuting public. 

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua said these are among the recommendations to manage the economy

A 4-day workweek, however, would mean that an employee should work up to 10 hours daily, Chua said.

"'Yung mungkahi po namin ay siguro subukan natin 'yung conservation of energy at isang halimbawa dito ay 'yung four-day workweek. Magtatrabaho pa rin po ang bawat Pilipino na 40 hours per [week]" Chua explained during President Rodrigo Duterte's taped address to the nation aired Wednesday morning. 

(The suggestion for us is to conserve energy such as the 4-day workweek. Filipinos will still need to work for 40 hours weekly.)

Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said work-from-home arrangements should also be extended, even as lockdown restrictions eased.

"We also support... ‘yung panukala na 4-day week work at saka ‘yung panukala din pong palawigin muna natin ang work-from-home para sa ganoon po mabawasan ang pagbiyahe ng ating mga mamamayan," Cusi said.

(We also support the 4-day workweek and extending work-from-home set-up to limit the commute of our riding public.)

The energy chief earlier advised the public to minimize the consumption of petroleum products amid the soaring fuel cost. 

During the briefing, he reiterated the importance of fuel and energy conservation. 

"Tuloy-tuloy po ‘yung kampanya natin dahil sa ganito po naman talaga ang kailangan natin is energy efficiency at conservation. So ‘yung programang ito po tuloy-tuloy nating itinutulak, pinapaalalahanan ang ating publiko nang maayos na paggamit ng petrolyo," he said.

(Our campaign continues because we need this for energy conservation and efficiency. This program is being pushed to remind the public to conserve fuel.)

Malacañang, hours after the proposals were presented, said Duterte has taken these into consideration. 

"Itong mga panukala na ito ay in case na tumaas pa ang presyo ng langis sa pangdaigdigang merkado," said acting Palace spokesperson Martin Andanar.

(These suggestions are just in case pump prices continue to increase in the world market.)

NEDA OPEN TO REVIEWING MINIMUM WAGE, FARE HIKE 

Meanwhile, NEDA said they are aware of calls for a higher minimum wage and a fare hike, but discussed its impact to the economy. 

Chua noted that any upward movement on the two could lead to faster inflation. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas' (BSP) "sensitivity analysis" showed that if the Dubai crude averaged at $120 per barrel for the year, inflation could be revised to 4.4 percent from 4 percent.

But if it would average at $140 per barrel, inflation could also reach 4.7 percent for the year, BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno added.

The Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) over the weekend said increasing minimum wage would do nothing to workers in the informal sector, where majority of Filipino laborers belong, it said.

"Kaya dapat we should be concerned not only for one sector or one type of worker. Dapat po lahat po ay concern po natin. So ang epekto po nito, kung magtaas po ‘yung minimum wage, halimbawa, at 'yung mga fares ng jeepney, buses, ay magdadagdag ito sa ating inflation rate by 1.4 percent," Chua explained.

(We should be concerned for all sectors. The effect of increasing minimum wage and the jeepney buses could increase our inflation rate by 1.4 percent.)

"Marami po tayong gustong ma-achieve pero dapat alam po natin kung ano po 'yung mas nakakabuti sa ating kapwa Pilipino."

(We want to achieve a lot of things but we should know what is better for our fellow Filipinos.)

Inflation in February remained unchanged at 3 percent despite Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the Philippine Statistics Authority said Friday.

Analysts have agreed that inflation could rise in the near term to reflect the impact of the ongoing tensions between the two countries.

— With reports from Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

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