SC defers issuance of SQA on fixed salary of bus drivers, conductors

July 11, 2012 9:29 pm 

MANILA, July 11 – Voting unanimously, the Supreme Court (SC) en banc on Wednesday deferred the issuance of the "status quo ante order" (SQA) stopping the implementation of the order of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) fixing wages of bus drivers and conductors.

In a press conference, Acting SC Public Information Office (PIO) Chief and Spokesperson Atty. Maria Victoria Gleoresty Guerra said the Court en banc in a special session on Wednesday resolved to defer the issuance of the SQA on the petition filed by the bus drivers and conductors.

Guerra added that the Court further resolved to require the respondents to comment within 10 days from notice hereof, on the prayer for temporary restraining order (TRO).

"This resolution supersedes the action taken by the Court en banc on July 10, 2012 on the same matter," Guerra said.

Associate Justices Lucas Bersamin and Roberto Abad are both on official leave.

On Tuesday, the SC decided to issue a "status quo ante", meaning that, preserving the current situation where the bus drivers and conductors are receiving commissions.

The DOLE and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) are required to file their comment on the petition filed by bus operators within ten days from notice.

In their petition, the bus operators asked the SC to declare as "unconstitutional" the DOLE order setting up fixed wages for bus drivers and conductors, saying that, the order could lead to their "bankruptcy."

The petitioners are the Provincial Bus Operators Association of the Philippines (PBOAP), Southern Luzon Bus Operators Association, Inc. (SOLUBOA), Inter-City Bus Operators Association (INTERBOA), and the City of San Jose del Monte Bus Operators Association (CSJDMBOA).

They said that the implementation of Department Order 118-12 fixing of wages for bus drivers and conductors "could lead to their ultimate corporate demise."

"The bus operators depend on their income solely on passenger fares that are not flexible enough to cope with changes in compensation schemes already in place," the petition said.

The fixed payment scheme sets a minimum wage, while the performance-based payment will be on a rate mutually agreed upon by the operators and the workers.

Under the new wage system, the drivers and conductors "should not earn lower than what they presently receive under the straight commission-basis. This is following the non-diminution principle."

The DOLE order also calls for company safety and health programs, including measures against smoking, drugs, and the spread of AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome), as well as anti-sexual harassment and disaster risk-reduction programs.

The DOLE came up with the scheme due to the prevalence of road accidents involving buses which resorted to several schemes to gather passengers because drivers and conductors are being paid on pure "commission basis." (PNA)

FPV/PTR

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