PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte reaffirmed his commitment to end the practice of labor contractualization, as the country marked Labor Day on Monday.
In a speech before workers at the People’s Park in Davao City, Duterte promised to sign an executive order to review Department Order (DO) 174, the new regulations on contractual work, and asked labor leaders to submit a draft for a new order.
He asked the public to give him time to address the “endo” or end-of-contract scheme, saying he recognized that some businesses required seasonal workers.
“They are still in the process of doing it but I said, and I say now, I stand firm on my conviction to end endo. The [Labor Code] guarantees all the workers of the rights, security of tenure. This has to be strictly enforced,” Duterte said.
“To this end, I will issue an executive order directing the strict implementation of the existing provisions against endo and labor-only contracting,” he added.
Duterte said he would also sign and endorse ILO Convention 151 allowing government workers to form unions.
“The Department of Labor and Employment shall be able and ready to ensure that every Filipino worker attains full decent and productive employment in the promotion of employment opportunities, the development of human resources, maintenance of industrial peace, protection of workers and protection of their welfare,” he said.
The President said he would hire more labor inspectors and deputize union leaders whom he said were needed to crack down on abusive labor practices.
‘Basic rights will be protected’
During the presidential campaign, Duterte promised to stop the endo scheme, wherein employment contracts are deliberately terminated before the sixth month to avoid paying benefits due to regular workers.
In his first Labor Day message as the head of state, Duterte thanked Filipino workers here and abroad for their contributions to the nation.
“Everyone who contributes labor as part of his commitment to nation-building deserves nothing less than a share of the fruits of his hard work,” Duterte said.
The government, he said, remains committed to protect the basic rights of Filipino workers.
“Workers play a significant role in pushing for the rights to humane conditions at work, basic wages and organized acts including collective bargaining and unionism,” the President said.
“The government recognizes these basic rights of workers in all industries, and we are committed to protect and defend these rights,” he added.
Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo echoed Duterte in her own Labor Day message.
“It is about time to empower our workers by ending [the endo]scheme and ensuring that employees won’t be able to use contractualization provisions of the law for abuse,” Robredo said.
“Our strong economic growth is the fruit of the workers’ labor and sacrifice. More than thanking them, we need
to better take care of them and protect their rights,” she added.
Duterte said the labor department would ensure the creation of thousands of jobs for the Filipino people.
“The Department of Labor and Employment takes the lead in ensuring that thousands of jobs will be created locally, in coordination with all other agencies, as we tap the skills, experience and expertise of our own people,” he said.
A total of 1,138 employers offered 201,811 local, overseas, and government job openings in the 52 “Trabaho, Negosyo, Kabuhayan” (jobs, business, livelihood) fair sites.
In a statement, militant group UP Alyansa lamented that Duterte had broken his promise to end contractualization.
“Duterte swore to the Filipino laborers from the very beginning that he will put an end to contractualization. However, it seems that his promise, like the many he has made, will never come true,” it said.
UP Alyansa also slammed Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd, who, it claimed, “simply perpetuated” the endo scheme by implementing DO 174 which only prohibits the act of agencies of supplying workers to perform a job, and not contractualization in all forms.
Urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) held a march to campaign for workers’ rights in commemoration of Labor Day.
Based on the reports of the Quezon City Police District, about 2,300 Kadamay members, accompanied by the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) labor group, walked to Mabuhay Rotonda or the boundary of Quezon City and Manila.
KMU Chairman Elmer Labog said that while his group recognizes the Labor department’s efforts to regularize 45,000 contractuals in 2017 under DO 174, “there remains over 24.4 million contractual workers that should be regularized,” he said.
“Majority of these workers however are unemployed under job contracting schemes which, ironically, is being legitimized and deemed allowable by the DO 174,” Labog added.
with Dempsey Reyes