THE anticipated meeting between President Rodrigo Duterte and labor leaders for the supposed signing of an executive order (EO) against the labor contracting scheme on Monday, April 16, was postponed for the third time amid strong objections from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
The labor sector proposed the EO aimed at ending the decades old problem on illegal work contracting and providing security of tenure to some 30 million contractual workers around the country.
“We were advised by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) that the meeting with the President has been called off,” Associated Labor Union-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines Spokesman Alan Tanjusay told The Manila Times.
Tanjusay said the DTI strongly opposed the draft EO over fears that it would result in higher wages and that employers would recoup by increasing the cost of their goods and services.
Last Friday, labor leaders from Associated Labor Union-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP), Nagkakaisa Labor Coalition and Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd and other top officials of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) deliberated on the EO for eight hours.
While prohibiting contractualization, the EO will still authorize government, workers and business groups through a formal tripartite process to identify what particular activities, jobs and functions will still be allowed to be contractual.
“The EO will undo decades of injustice to millions of contractualized workers and Endo (end-of-contract) employees enslaved in poverty by contractualization work schemes resulting in poor wages, inadequate social protection benefits, insecurity of tenure and unsafe and unhealthy workplaces, all these amid growing profit-taking by corporations and unprecedented economic growth,” said ALU-TUCP national president Michael Mendoza.
ALU-TUCP Vice President Luis Corral said Duterte’s signing of EO would end two years of policy quagmire where the DTI, employers groups and contractors were dead-ending workers’ hopes.
“The President has played straight with us: he said he would never renege on his promise to end contractualization, he asked us to be reasonable in recognizing some types of contractualization as allowable such as seasonal work, and he asked for time to educate employers. We have, on our part, complied. By signing the EO, President Duterte and the nation have a tryst with destiny on Monday. The EO is a big right step towards building a genuinely inclusive and more decent society,” Corral said. WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL