TACLOBAN CITY – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has resumed its first post-Yolanda routine inspection of establishments in the region to come up with updates of destroyed establishments and check their compliance to labor laws.

The DOLE regional office targets 1,120 establishment for this year’s inspection launched two months ago and will be completed on October 31. “We are supposed to start the routine inspection early this year but we were preoccupied with emergency jobs and livelihood programs,” said DOLE regional mediator-arbiter Roy Buenafe. The official said that aside from tracking the establishment’s compliance to more than 70 labor laws, they will also assess the status of establishments in Leyte, Samar, and Eastern Samar after the super typhoon. “After the rapid assessment last year, we don’t have any survey of typhoon-related impacts to establishments. We need to know of their situation and find ways to assist them,” Buenafe said. He even raised doubts that the region will be able to meet the target of 1,120 firms since have not yet resumed their operation after November 8, 2013. As of end of September, 711 establishments have been inspected by nine labor laws compliance officers, accounting 63% of the target. This year’s inspection applies the rules on labor laws compliance system under Department Order 131 issued July of last year.

Henry Cua, president of the Leyte Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the national government should focus on assisting business owners instead of checking whether some standards are not followed.
“It’s hard to follow all the standard given our situation after Yolanda. The national government is very slow in assisting us so we just have work whatever is left in our business,” said Cua, who owns the Tacloban Ultrasteel Corp. Of the three branches that he owns, only one has resumed its operation.

Buenafe, however, said that the new routine inspection is not just design to detect violations but to encourage compliance. “The old inspection aims to compel owners to comply but the new one is developmental approach. If there are deficiencies, we will guide employers how to comply instead of punishing them,” he added. In the priority list are establishments with more than 10 workers, contractors, engaged in hazardous word, employing child workers, registered sea vessels engaged in domestic shipping and bus companies. “Others are also covered in the inspection but they are not the priority establishment. For smaller businesses, our intervention is training and advisory visit where we inform them of other options so they could be exempted,” Buenafe explained. The DOLE earlier reported that 2,290 business establishments have been destroyed by strong winds and storm surges here in the region due to the onslaught of Yolanda.
The destruction forced 1,558 firms to shut down their operations. (SARWELL Q.MENIANO)