Monday, October 02, 2006

Unscrupulous employers....

While I was on my way to work, I had a rather lengthy and animated conversation with a cab driver regarding complaints he has for the cab company he's been working in for several years now.

The cab company he works for has its main office in Quezon City, and has more than a hundred units plying Metro Manila's thoroughfares, each one emblazoned with the initials of the supposed owner and operator.

His wife recently gave birth and he wasn't able to claim his PhilHealth benefits since it isn't really clear if his company had remitted the premiums which supposedly form part of the regular boundary payments he makes. He suspects that the premiums hadn't been remitted.

If true, the company, in effect, would be deducting premium contributions from the employee, and pocketing the amounts instead of remitting them to PhilHealth. Needless to say, this would be a gross violation of the implementing rules of the National Health Insurance Law, and the company could be held civilly and criminally liable.

I advised him to visit the PhilHealth office, either the main one in Pasig, or the Service Office in Quezon City, along with documentary proof that PhilHealth premiums are indeed being deducted from him, as well as the details regarding his wife's delivery and subsequent confinement. Hopefully the truth in this matter can be threshed out in the requisite investigation, and with any luck he could still be eligible to receive PhilHealth benefits.

Aside from that, he also narrated how he had been recently suspended from driving a cab for a week for allegedly failing to pay the required daily boundary. Ironically enough, it turns out that he actually paid the boundary, and has in his possession a receipt signed by his company's cashier to prove it. He has brought his case to the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) and a preliminary hearing has already been set.

To add insult to injury, the receipt issued to him is not an official receipt with the name of the company, address, and tax identification number (TIN). The receipt his company customarily issues is but an ordinary mimeographed piece of newsprint with very few details, somewhat similar to an ordinary petty cash voucher. According to the driver, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) license that should be prominently hung in their main office is conspicuously absent as well. Hmmm. So the company may even be liable for tax violations as well.

He also adds that the true owner of the cab company is a Chinese national who currently resides in Hongkong. The local registered owner is currently there too, serving as a driver/bodyguard for the said Chinese national. In other words, the registered owner is nothing but a dummy for the Chinese national who actually owns the business himself. Philippine law requires that local public transport operators be wholly owned by Filipinos, and to circumvent this by setting up a local citizen as a fictitious proprietor on paper is a violation of the Anti-Dummy Law.

While his claims are possibly exaggerated, and I have no way of ascertaining the veracity of his statements, if true, his company would probably one of the most unscrupulous employers I have ever heard of. PhilHealth violations, labor violations, tax violations, anti-dummy violations. He also mentioned something about their Pag-IBIG contributions not being remitted either. Chalk up another possible violation.

I find it a bit difficult to believe that there are actually companies out there who can either be so malicious so as to deliberately refuse compliance with applicable laws, or be so ignorant of the existence and mandatory nature of these laws. Sad to say, I would surmise that there are a lot of companies like this one, preying on the ignorance of innocent workers who are unable to fight for their rights.

Aside from the PhilHealth issue, I really don't know how else to help the driver. I suggested that he and his coworkers form a union in order to protect their interests, and he said that he may very well consider spearheading the creation of a union himself, considering that he's already in the middle of it all, more so since he is presently in the process of litigating with the company in connection with the aforementioned labor case. A union would probably be the best way of defending themselves from all these violations and abuses.

Well, if all his allegations turn out to be the truth, I wish him well in his efforts to battle his company on these matters. Unscrupulous employers have no place in today's society, and workers and employees, especially those with the least economic resources, should be afforded all the protection the law has to offer.

It's just disappointing that even in this day and age, there are still companies who have no qualms over taking advantage of their employees. But hey, it happens. I just hope companies like these get what they deserve.

Curious on what cab company this post is about? I'd rather not say, since I have only heard one side of the issue. Let's give the company the benefit of the doubt, and let it defend itself in the appropriate forum, which ought to be pretty soon. But if you insist on knowing the name, here's a clue. The name can probably be found at the beginning of the phonebook.

Who knows? You may be reading about this in the papers in a few weeks or so. Then again, maybe not.





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