THE country’s biggest labor group has rejected a government proposal that will allow regularization of contractual workers at the manpower service provider level rather than by concerned companies that need the workers.
The Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) on Sunday said the proposal is a clear circumvention of the Labor Code.
Besides, the group added, there is no such provision in the law.
“There is nothing like that in the Labor Code. They want to make another form of contractualization that is not in the Labor Code,” ALU-TUCP spokesman Alan Tanjusay told The Manila Times.
What the the government is proposing is “another form of labor slavery,” Tanjusay said.
Gerardo Seno, executive vice president of the ALU-TUCP, said the proposal will not resolve the problem of contractualization as it does not provide security of tenure to workers as provided by the Labor Code.
Earlier, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd said President Rodrigo Duterte wants the illegal end-of-contract (“endo”) practice reduced by 50 percent by year-end and eliminated by 2017.
Contractualization, or “endo” or “555” is a work arrangement whereby workers are only hired for about five months or less than six months without security of tenure, monetary, non-monetary and social protection benefits from the Social Security System (SSS), Pag-IBIG and PhilHealth.
But last week, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez and Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion came up with a “win-win” arrangement wherein the workers will be hired by the manpower service providers and agencies as regulars, receiving full benefits including social security, health and retirement benefits.
Under the arrangement, companies would have the option to directly hire workers as regular employees or outsource them through manpower recruitment agencies to perform seasonal work.
Also under the Lopez-Concepcion plan, Seno said, workers are still vulnerable to exploitation and abuse because there is still no employee-employer relationship between the worker and the principal employer.
“Under the scheme, workers are denied fair wages and social protection benefits. At any moment, the contract between manpower recruitment agency contractor is rescinded, absconded or terminated by the principal employer, workers will definitely suffer,” he added.
Seno said the ALU-TUCP is proposing amendments to provisions of the Labor Code that will totally ban all forms of contractualization and prohibit all forms of fixed-term employment.
Under these amendments, all workers should become regular employees at the company level after a six-month probationary period.
Tanjusay said a strong debate between workers and employers interest groups is inevitable over the policy of the Labor department to regularize all contractual workers upon instruction of the President.
“Progressive labor groups such as ALU are well-prepared to engage employers, businesses and government in argumentation and debate on the issue. We anticipate a clash in positioning in the coming days and we are prepared to slug it out with them,” he added.