Less than half of bus companies comply with fixed wages for drivers and conductors

Less than half of bus companies comply with fixed wages for drivers and conductors image

Text: Eric Tipan / Photos: Brent Co | posted November 12, 2013 12:25

Unscrupulous bus companies defiant on bus driver and conductor pay standards

Out of the 214 franchises that ply Metro Manila routes, only 97 have changed their compensation scheme.

The LTFRB and DOLE have instituted a 'fixed wage' system since July 1, 2012 but so far, only 97 bus companies have complied.

The 'boundary system' or 'commission-based' salary scheme for bus drivers and conductors has been the standard since the privatization of the bus industry in the 80's and has been pointed out as one of the factors that lead to risky and dangerous driving habits developed by PUBs.

After DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) implemented Department Order 118-12 in July 1, 2012, otherwise known as 'Rules and Regulations Governing the Employment and Working Conditions of Drivers and Conductors in the Public Utility Bus Transport Industry", it was expected to roll out smoothly through all PUB franchises.

Bus drivers and conductors will be entitled to wages for all actual work during the normal work hours and days not lower than the applicable minimum wage rates.  Wages shall be paid at least once every two weeks or twice a month at intervals not exceeding 16 days. 

The drivers and conductors should be paid a holiday pay of 100 percent of the minimum wage even without reporting to work and 200 percent when required to work on a holiday. 

They are entitled to a rest day of 24 consecutive hours for every six consecutive working days. If they are required to work on a rest day, an additional premium pay of 30 percent of minimum basic wage should be paid to them.

Overtime pay equivalent to at least 25 percent of the basic wage on ordinary days and 30 percent on regular holidays, special days and rest days for work beyond eight hours per day would also apply.  An additional 10 percent of the daily basic wage is required for night shifts, if work is between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. of the following day. Incentive leave of five days per year of service should also be observed. 

They should be paid 13th month pay pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 851, as amended, which entitles the employee to receive an amount equivalent to 1/12 of the total basic salary earned within the calendar year, not later than December 24 of each year.

Other incentives for a regular employee such as maternity leave for both male and female, parental leave for solo parents, and retirement pay upon reaching the age of 60 or more are also applicable.

More than a year after, only 97 bus companies out of the 214 that operate in Metro Manila have adhered to these 'rules and regulations'.

Bus companies, in fact, filed a petition with the Supreme Court a few days after the DOLE implementation saying the new rules were 'unconstitutional.'  They also request for DOLE and the LTFRB to compute the basic wage based on the 'old scheme' or the 'boundary system' because they feel that they earn more with the latter system.

The 'boundary system' dictates that the driver and conductor forward a fixed amount daily to the bus operator and what is left is their 'take-home pay.'  The incentive in this system is the longer, faster and harder you work, the more money you will make.  The downside is, these drivers and conductors push themselves way beyond the human limit, beyond what is safe for them personally and for their passengers.

It also encourages one-on-one rivalries with buses plying the same route.  The tendency will be to overspeed to the next stop, recklessly swerve and cut other buses and overstay their stop just to get the most number of passengers.

DOLE has started to issue Labor Standard Compliance Certificates (LSCC) to bus companies that have complied with D.O. 118-12.  These LSCCs will become a requirement in applying or renewing LTFRB franchises.