Almost 35 million contractual workers could be freed from the five-month labor contract system whoever wins the presidential elections on May 9.
The next President ridding labor of contractualization was welcomes on Monday by the workers’ coalition Nagkaisa led by the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP).
Alan Tanjusay, spokesan for Nagkaisa-TUCP, said the country has almost 35 million contractual workers out of 67.1 million workers as of 2016.
Contractualization or “endo” (end of contract) or “555” is a work arrangement whereby workers are only hired for only about 5 months without security of tenure, monetary, non-monetary and social protection benefits.
The law requires regularization or termination of those employed for 6 months.
All the five candidates for President, including Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd, the official candidate of the Aquino administration who had never lifted a finger in addressing the massive contractualization, promised to solve the labor problem.
Roxas vowed to end “endo” within three months of his presidency through a law.
Rep. Raymond Democrito Mendoza, TUCP president, said his group expressed hope that contractualization will be addressed by the incoming President.
“It’s been many years of struggle against contractual work arrangement and we only see a bright hope in ending it after last night’s debate,” Mendoza added.
Jose Matula, president of the Federation of Free Workers (FFW), also welcomed the development in the fight against contractualization in the Philippines.
But, Matula said, the FFW believes that only Vice President Jejomar Binay has the true intention to solve the problem because Binay “was with the workers and lawyered for them in upholding the constitutional right to security of tenure in a number of illegal dismissal and regularization cases.”
During the debate, the Vice President said contractualization is against the law.
Creating many permanent jobs, according to Binay, will solve the problem.
Wilson Fortaleza, spokesman for the Partido Manggagawa, though the statements of the five presidential candidates, including Sen. Grace Poe whom PM is supporting, lack concrete steps to end contractualization, “the good thing is that the issue became mainstream. Whoever wins has to deal with [his or her]commitments to labor. This issue doesn’t need a single champion. Everyone must support this cause.”
Fortaleza said the next President and the labor sector, particularly PM, would work together to seriously solve the problem.
According to Tanjusay, “While large and small corporations and businesses are thriving for many years now because of economic growth, contractual workers are deprived of their fair share of the wealth they helped build. Workers under this work scheme are called working poor because they cannot cope with basic standards of cost of living.”
He explained that “under the scheme [of contractualization], companies undermine the Labor Code by hiring the services of a recruitment or manpower agency or cooperative for the services they needed to avoid a direct employer-employee relationship for less than six months. They then rehire workers or renew contracts with the agency if employers still wanted to pursue their services. Other employers create dummy manpower or recruitment agencies for them to avoid direct employee-employers relationship.”
Tanjusay said the contracted workers receive less than the mandated minimum wage without social protection benefits such as Social Security System, Pag-IBIG and PhilHealth.
“They are also deprived of overtime and holiday pays, non-cash perks and benefits,” he added.
“Legislative efforts to marginalize the contractualization scheme are introduced in every Congress at the Senate and House of Representatives through the proposed Security of Tenure Act bill but the push for its approval into law is always opposed by powerful business and employers groups including manpower agencies and cooperatives,” Tanjusay said.