26 October 2020
LABOR GROUP SLAMS CAVITEX LAYOFFS, CALLS FOR JUST TRANSITION FOR TOLL-TELLERS
Socialist labor group Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) railed against the Cavitex Infrastructure Corp.'s (CIC) plan to terminate more than 100 toll-tellers operating the toll plazas of the Manila-Cavite Expressway (Cavitex) due to DOTR Sec. Tugade's push for 100% electronic toll collection lanes.
CIC, which is a unit of Manny V. Pangilinan's Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC), is set to terminate all its toll-tellers by October 31. It was contracted by the GOCC Public Estates Authority Tollway Corporation (PEATC) to manage and operate the expressway.
"The dismissal of 100+ Cavitex workers is yet another episode in a series of mass-layoffs ignited by the Duterte government's callous and ill-conceived schemes to contain the Covid-19 pandemic," said BMP President Luke Espiritu.
DOTR Secretary Arthur Tugade signed Department Order No. 2020-012 last August 13, directing all its attached agencies to fast track the transition to cashless transactions in all toll expressways so as to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmissions. Thereafter, the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) required all concessionaires and operators to complete a full transition to automated cashless systems by November 2.
DOLE Compliance Order
The labor lawyer added: "Instead of prioritizing the safety and livelihood of workers in its pandemic response, Duterte and Tugade are unabashedly neglecting expressway workers, who are mostly contractuals under labor-only contractors that are owned by private operators like Pangilinan's MPIC and CIC."
BMP further bared that the Cavitex toll-tellers to be terminated are the same workers covered by a 2018 DOLE compliance order declaring all contractuals in Cavitex as regular employees of PEATC. BMP avers that CIC has refused to implement the compliance order.
"It is an outrage that these workers are to be abruptly terminated without even being recognized as and receiving the benefits of regular workers - a right which they had already struggled for and legally won!" Espiritu said.
Considering the DOTR's transition to cashless transactions, BMP pointed out that toll-tellers are not rendered obsolete by electronic toll collection lanes. The automated systems still suffer from recurring malfunctions requiring quick troubleshooting, evident in the long lines it still produces especially during rush hour.
Espiritu asserted that "these ETC, RFID, and AFCS systems still require consistent and ample technical assistance that can be provided by the same workers it replaced."
BMP also argued that toll-tellers could capacitate the reloading system for these cashless schemes, which are reportedly ill-equipped for the massive increase in users.
"These viable alternatives, as well as the existing and unimplemented compliance order, should be reason enough for both the government and CIC to plan and implement a just transition for Cavitex toll-tellers. We call on the state and all private expressway operators to ensure a just transition to prevent the unnecessary lay-offs of thousands of expressway workers," Espiritu concluded.
For reference, please contact: Luke Espiritu