Villanueva: Woes of foodpanda riders highlight need to institute protections for freelance workers
The plight of riders of a food delivery service is a “labor dispute waiting to happen” that could be put to an end when rights of freelance workers are recognized under the law, according to Senator Joel Villanueva.
Villanueva, chair of the Senate labor committee, called on his colleagues to support the Freelancer Protection Act which he endorsed for plenary deliberations in September last year. With the COVID-19 pandemic altering the business landscape and displacing millions of workers, some have turned to freelancing to make ends meet and provide for their families, explained the lawmaker.
“Ito pong problema ng mga rider ng food delivery service apps ay isang patunay sa matinding pangangailangan natin para sa itaguyod ang Freelancers Protection bill. Abonado na po sila madalas, at minsan nabibiktima pa ng mga fake booking. Kaunting minutong aberya lang sa daan, katakut-takot na insulto at pambabastos ang tinatanggap nila mula sa mga nag-order. Kailangan pong may malinaw na proteksyon ang ating mga freelance workers,” Villanueva said in a statement. “In its current form, the Labor Code does not recognize the existence of freelance workers.”
“Dapat po responsive ang ating mga batas sa mga pagbabago sa mga industriya at trabaho. If there are indeed 1.5 million freelancers, and if we factor in their families, this means there are more than six million Filipinos affected by our action or inaction on this matter, that’s why I’m appealing to our colleagues to see the urgency of this bill,” Villanueva continued.
"Kaunting minutong aberya lang sa daan, katakut-takot na insulto at pambabastos ang tinatanggap nila mula sa mga nag-order. Kailangan pong may malinaw na proteksyon ang ating mga freelance workers.”
“We will continue to pursue the Freelance Workers Protection Bill because it levels the playing field for both workers and employers. The rights of workers under freelancing arrangements are more pronounced in the bill, while allowing employers to resort to freelancing in the meantime while they are trying to get their businesses back in the black,” the lawmaker added.
The senator said he would bring this again to the attention of the Department of Labor and Employment which earlier committed to look into the matter during the budget deliberations last year. At that time, foodpanda riders staged a protest at the DOLE office to complain about the unclear payment structure.
In September last year, Villanueva endorsed for plenary deliberations the Freelance Workers Protection bill or Senate Bill No. 1810 which seeks to define and recognize workers under freelance arrangement. In 2018, the Global Freelance Insights Report by Paypal pegged the number of freelance workers in the country to be around 1.5 million, the lawmaker cited.
The bill requires the hiring party and the freelance worker to enter into a written contract or “a document, whether electronic file or printed copy, reflecting the mutual consent of the parties to be bound by the terms and conditions of their freelance work engagement and the consideration for the services rendered by the freelancer.”
The measure also institutes rights of freelance workers, including their rights to redress of grievances, including alternative dispute reso