WE agree completely with our Policy Peek columnist, former senator Ernesto Herrera.
He recently wrote: “If you need any more proof that contractualization is not just bad for workers but also bad for business because it makes services suffer then just look at the recent Metro Rail Transit (MRT) accident.”
“The two drivers involved in the recent MRT accident were both contractual workers but have been on the job for six years.
“This means that even the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) is violating the law against labor-only contracting.
“Surely those workers should have been regularized after six months of continuous service. Either that or they should have been terminated granting there was a just cause to do so. But to have been working for the MRT for six years and still be contractual workers? That is illegal.
“Also, MRT drivers should not be contractual workers since they are engaged to perform work that is necessary and desirable in the business of the MRT. Indeed, train drivers should not only get tenure but all the training and support for their jobs to ensure the safety of rail passengers.
“If the DOTC claims that the MRT mishap, which led to the injuries of more than 30 people, was due to human error, then it is also the DOTC’s error for allowing the contractualization of train drivers.
“The train drivers were suspended by the DOTC and are now facing administrative charges for ‘gross neglect, inefficiency in the performance of official functions, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service and violation of reasonable office rules and regulations.’
“But what about the DOTC officials who neglected the welfare of the train drivers and violated the law against contractualization?”
“When once permanent and regular staff positions are made contractual, regular employees and their families not only lose their source of livelihood, they also lose the incentive to do their jobs to the best of their abilities.
“Even banks, which used to provide some of the most stable jobs in the country, now have many of their regular staff positions turned contractual because of a circular of the Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas.
“BSP’s Memorandum Circular 268 allows the subcontracting to independent service providers of eight banking operations or divisions: credit investigation and appraisal, credit cards, information technology, clearing, security, messengerial, tax management, and financial accounting.
“Article 280 of the Labor Code provides two exemptions for fixed-term contracts: 1) When the term of employment has been fixed for a specific project or undertaking, the completion or termination of which has been determined at the time the worker was hired; and 2) when the work or service to be performed is seasonal and the employment is only for the duration of the season.
“The lack of job security because of rampant contractualization has led to a much-noticed deterioration of services in many sectors.
“Workers have been taking contractual jobs out of desperation. The jobs are offered on a ‘take it or leave it’ basis. If they don’t take the job, there are others in line, more desperate. And so they do, believing any job is better than no job at all. It’s the same principle used by those companies who could well afford to pay regular wages and benefits but don’t. If you don’t like what we’re offering then go somewhere else, they say.
“What these companies fail to realize is contractualization negatively affects their services in the long run. It loses them customers and profits.”