PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has directed labor groups to draft an executive order that will end contractualization.
The EO will replace the department order issued by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd in March that was condemned by labor groups for perpetuating contractualization or “endo”, the practice of hiring employees for six months and firing them before their contracts end so that they will not be hired as regular workers.
“The EO that we will draft will effectively nullify Department Order (DO) 174,” Associated Labor Union-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) spokesman Alan Tanjusay said.
Duterte gave labor groups a week to finish the draft order. The President and labor leaders will again meet on May 10.
Tanjusay said that the President, during their dialogue on Labor Day, approved in principle their demands, including the grant of cash subsidy to workers.
“We were told by the President that there is money but he needs a reasonable and an acceptable mechanism on how financial benefits can be provided,” he said.
The group proposed the provision of a P500 monthly voucher subsidy to minimum wage earners registered with the Social Security System (SSS), as well as a Labor Empowerment Assistance Program to be administered by both the Department of Labor and Employment and trade unions. The program is somewhat similar to the Conditional Cash Transfer program which grants monthly stipend for indigent families.
Duterte also approved the labor group’s demand for Senate ratification of the International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 151 allowing government employees to form unions and to bargain collectively.
Tanjusay said the President is also open to certifying as urgent House Bill 4444 which aims to ban contractualization and criminalize it. Duterte also approved the deputization of trade union participation in the inspection of workplaces in the face of growing employers’ non-compliance to general labor standards and occupational safety and health.
Tanjusay said that the EO they will draft will remove the participation of middlemen in the hiring process.
Michael Mendoza, chairperson of the Nagkaisa Labor Coalition and president of ALU-TUCP, said Duterte asked labor groups to give him time to end contractualization.
“He was candid enough to allude to vested interest groups lobbying against the end of contractualization,” Mendoza said.
“I stand firm on my conviction to end “endo”. Just give us time. The Labor Code guarantees all the right to security of tenure. This has to be strictly enforced. Labor laws must be enforced against Endo and labor-only contracting,” Duterte said in a speech on May 1.
The President, according to Tanjusay, admitted that there was “resistance and objections” from some members of his cabinet and interest lobby groups on his decision to ban contractualization.
But Rep. Edcel Lagman of Albay said the President should not feed the people false promises, including ending contractualization.
“Marginalized workers cannot eat motherhood statements and unfulfilled promises that embellished the President’s Labor Day message. The labor force needs immediately concrete, specific and substantial benefits like a wage increase approximating a living wage, elimination of contractualization or outsourcing of labor requirements to reduce workers’ benefits, and termination of the endo,” Lagman said in a statement.
“He said he is signing an Executive Order to end contractualization. But where is it, really? He has not signed it yet, and we don’t even know the content of the EO that he is going to sign or if it reflect the recommendation of the labor groups,” hea dded.
Rep. Tom Villarin of Akbayan party-list shared Lagman’s sentiments, noting that contractualization is still rampant in export processing zones and labor groups are even tasked to inspect companies when it is supposed to be the government’s role.
“There is a pending House Bill 4444 which abolishes labor-only contracting and yet it is yet to be discussed by the House Committee on Labor and the President is yet to certify this as urgent,” Villarin added. LLANESCA T. PANTI and WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL