Senate panel to probe garbage firm over alleged labor violations

(MANILA BULLETIN) The Senate Committee on Labor and Employment is keen on investigating the alleged violations on labor and employment of a certain garbage hauler firm that services various cities in Metro Manila.

Sen. Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada, chairman of the Senate labor panel, said it is imperative for the committee to look into the reported deceitful praactices of International Solid Waste Integrated Management Specialist Inc. (I-SWIMS), which they said to have been circumventing labor laws to avoid responsibility in providing protection and due benefits to their workers.

“The situation of garbage collectors in I-SWIMS and similar companies is a matter of concern. It is important to investigate the alleged labor violations and ensure that the workers are not being exploited,” Estrada said in filing Senate Resolution No. 914. 

“The workers deserve to be treated fairly and provided with the necessary protection and benefits as mandated by law,” the senator said.

According to Estrada, more than 70 garbage collectors who have been with the company for almost four years now as mere “volunteers,” are made to work for at least 18 hours daily, from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Based on the information gathered by his office, the garbage collectors claimed that they have only been receiving P250 to P300 daily, or below the prescribed rate of P573 to P610 for Metro Manila workers.

The workers also claimed they were not paid overtime pay and night shift differential, deprived of rest days and are also required to work during holidays without any corresponding holiday pay. 

Estrada said his office also learned I-SWIMS workers are not provided with social protection benefits such as such as Social Security System (SSS), Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), and Home Development Mutual Fund (PagIBIG Fund).

The workers are also purportedly not given any protective gear such as gloves, hats, boots, or raincoats to protect them from outdoor conditions and from the hazards of handling waste materials. 

“According to them, several garbage collectors have died from illnesses like leptospirosis, and the company does not provide any assistance for injury, sickness, or death,” Estrada said.

Since they are hired as “volunteers,” Estrada noted the workers are left at the mercy of the company.

“Such is a circumvention of the laws, particularly the Labor Code and this is supposedly perpetrated among the garbage collectors whose service to the company and nature of work is essential to its operations,” he said.