Senate continues into plight of 2 mall cashiers in labor-related abuse

(INQUIRER) MANILA, Philippines — At least two former cashiers at a department store and supermarket chain have complained that money earned in a day from their checkout counters was not counted in front of them, with shortages being reported just days after, making them vulnerable to abuse when they are forced to pay for the alleged short change.

At the hearing of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development, two former cashiers for Landmark appeared to testify that there are instances that they would be charged for the shortage — or a difference between the money declared from sales or receipts to the actual money collected from the cashier’s box — but they were not present when the bills were being counted.

One cashier, Regina Lomerio, who spoke out about their problems, revealed that the “shortage” is taken out of their paychecks. According to her, the department store is the only place she has worked where employees are not allowed to count money in front of customers.

“In [a] long time I’ve been a cashier, it’s only with Landmark that I’ve experienced that shortage is not tallied within the day, they inform us of the issue just days after, then the hard part is that even if we don’t sign the papers, the shortage is automatically deducted from our salaries,” she said in Filipino.

“Because the practice is that shortages are matched with all the transactions within the day, but when we ask for documents from our supervisors when we go to the accounting office, they say that it is a confidential matter — but it is our transactions,” she added.

Lomerio further said that there were instances when security officials picked up money from their counters in the middle of the day, which is a standard routine when money cases are total already.  However, she said they could no longer track what happens after these cash boxes leave their presence.

“Every afternoon, someone picks up the money from each counter, and we place it into a pouch.  But sometimes we don’t know. They will only tell us that we lack some amount, we lack P1,000, then we would just resort to asking them to do a recount,” she said.

“But how could we see everything that happened when they brought the money to the treasury when we do not have any CCTV in the area?” she asked.

Senator Raffy Tulfo, who was present during the hearing, grilled the mall officials, asking why counting — and the serving of notice of shortages — has to be done days after when money is concerned.

It would be too late in the night to count money in front of the cashiers, Landmark Makati counter manager Josefina Miclat explained.

Miclat referenced a viral case where the cashier was short of P5,000 when the receipt and actual sales didn’t tally.

“The accounting office would match the tally sheet provided these duplicates.  But we can no longer check it on the same day because it is late at night, so we check it the next day,” she said.

“No, you shouldn’t do that [the next] day because we’re talking about money. You cannot do things behind their backs, as if you’ll do auditing and then come to the conclusion tomorrow that there’s a shortage, and then when an employee asks for the document, they’ll say it’s confidential,” Tulfo replied.

Miclat then said they are not keeping anything confidential, adding that guards escorting the money transferred from the case.  But Tulfo noted that the counting process should be done in the presence of the cashiers so that they would not be taken advantage of by their superiors, which may be pocketing the money and blaming it on the workers in the cash registers.

Meanwhile, the committee chair and Senator Jinggoy Estrada said that even if security officials are present, the company cannot be sure that the money transferred by the cashiers is not tampered with.  He suggested that measures must be changed within the company to shield the workers from possible abuse.

“I suggest that you change your system because I agree, when it comes to counting, some Pontius Pilate can say that ‘what you remitted is lacking, let’s say it is short.’  Only the poor cashier workers are affected here,” Estrada said.

“We would not know if there’s an accomplice because you’re not counting the money in front of them.  We cannot know if the supervisor or the guard is an accomplice. There is no way for us to find out,” he added.