Gov’t Adopts 24/7 Work Shifts in International Airports

Concerned government agencies have finally agreed to adopt a 24/7 work shift at all international airports in the country to avoid paying overtime fees, even as they are able to respond to the requirements of passengers and cargo handling at these airports.

The policy was announced this week by Transportation Secretary Manuel Roxas II in a letter he sent to the Board of Airline Representatives and the Airline Operators Council.

A copy of the letter was furnished to Secretaries Cesar V. Purisima of the Department of Finance which has the mandate over Customs policies; Enrique T. Ona of the Department of Health which issues health and sanitary permits; Proceso J. Alcala of the Department of Agriculture which handles quarantine permits; Leila M. de Lima of the Department of Justice which used to be on top of immigration policies; Ramon R. Jimenez Jr. of the Department of Tourism and Florencio B. Abad of the Department of Budget and Management.

The old policy was for the airlines, whether domestic or foreign, to answer for the overtime fees of employees of the Bureau of Customs, the Bureau of Immigration, the quarantine office and airport personnel who  were made to work after regular office hours to assist passengers and handle cargoes.

The issue, according to Roxas, was recently brought to the attention of the President in his meeting with his economic managers.

The airline operators had earlier been complaining that the added cost to their operations was one of the reasons why international carriers, particularly those from Europe and the United States, have either stopped or reduced direct flights to and from the Philippines.

“The concerned Cabinet Secretaries agreed to adopt a policy wherein a 24/7 shifting schedule will be implemented and the government will fully finance the services rendered by these government employees in international airports,” Roxas told the airline organizations in his letter.

Passenger traffic at least at the NAIA is heaviest between afternoon and midnight every day, a pattern that has required the deployment of customs, immigration and quarantine (CIQ) and airport personnel during off hours.

“Hence, government agencies performing services in international airports have been directed to field sufficient number of personnel in shifts to address their operational requirements to avoid rendering overtime,” the transportation boss added.

Roxas told the airline organizations to inform their members of the latest policy shift and to advice them to stop paying overtime fees to all government employees assigned to attend to their operational requirements after regular office hours.

No payment by airline companies, in cash or in kind, should now be made and violations by any of the airport assigned personnel should be reported to his office.

Violation of the new policy, Roxas pointed out, includes work stoppage, work slow-downs or any form of action that affects the efficiency of their services.  Reports from the airline companies should make the agencies concerned to implement corrective action.

— Abe P. Belena, PHILEXPORT News and Features 

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