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Labor groups on Thursday called the labor department’s decision to fully implement the law on the mandatory grant of 13th-month pay, a victory for workers.

“This is our triumph for being one in letting our voices be heard. Despite the attempt to ignore our rights, we fought for our 13th-month pay. Mabuhay ang mga manggagawa! (Long live the workers!)” Elmer Labog, chairperson of Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) said in a statement.

Labog also welcomed the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) plan to seek subsidies for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), which have been affected by the pandemic.

“The government must provide assistance to distressed companies,” he said, urging Congress to pass a pro-people budget to ensure steady funds and assure that workers’ economic rights are upheld.

The Associated Labor Unions likewise lauded the DOLE for its decision not to allow the deferment of the mandatory benefit.

“The working people are happy and thankful to Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello for breaking the 13th-month pay payment deadlock (with) its decision today to heed their appeal to disallow the deferment of payment and give exemptions to the payment of (the) 13th-month pay of employees this year,” ALU executive vice president, Gerard Seno, said in a statement.

Seno said the labor department’s pronouncement would boost the morale of millions of private-sector employees who are struggling amid the health crisis.

Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) president Raymond Mendoza, meanwhile, applauded Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez for supporting the decision of DOLE and helping troubled businesses pay the mandatory benefit by making loan facilities accessible to them.

Under Presidential Decree 851, employers must pay their employees the mandatory benefit on or before December 24.

The DOLE said it would release an advisory on the granting of the 13th-month pay on Friday. (PNA)