MRT case proves contractualization makes services suffer

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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.

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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?

I will never get tired of saying this. When once-permanent and once-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.

Again, how much motivation is there for workers to do their jobs well if after five months they would be out of work anyway? In some cases, the unscrupulous workers would even try to take advantage of their short tenure with a certain company to earn as much as they can illegally.

Some workers, for instance, knowing they’d be jobless in five months, do some monkey business to earn “extra-income.” They don’t feel any loyalty to the company, and they even justify what they’re doing as payback for not being given security of tenure.

In many service-oriented industries like restaurants and hotels, services have suffered because owners and management thought they could cut costs by resorting to contractualization.

Have you noticed how many of the first class hotels you once frequented do not offer first class service anymore? The same goes for your favorite restaurants. You can blame contractualization for that as well.

Even some nurses in hospitals around the country are now hired on a contractual basis. And yet we complain about the exodus of our medical professionals to better-paying jobs abroad.

In telecommunication companies what were once regular jobs like installing lines, repair services, maintenance work are contracted out nowadays. Crews are paid usually on piecemeal or on a per job basis. These crews have no rights, they are paid less, they have no benefits, they get less training or none at all. They are not organic to the companies they serve and could lose their jobs anytime. Again, how can you expect them to provide quality service?

Contractualization is not just bad for the workers. It’s bad for business as well.

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5 Comments

  1. Hypocrite Herrera! You sponsored a bill that became law during the time of Cory Aquino which opened the floodgates
    of massive contractualization in the country.

  2. I agree Senator. That is why almost all efficient, skilled, specialist, technical and honest workers are out of the Philippines today. Their supposed contribution to the development of the Philippines economically and technology wise are now being reaped tremendously by countries where they are based right now. The law on contractualization must be repealed and strengthen instead the welfare of the workers and employees as regulars.

  3. This I think is hypocrisy. Was it not Herrera who introduced contractualization during the Cory administration?

  4. Jose A. Oliveros on

    Even corporations belonging to the top 500 have resorted to contractualization of almost all of their services – Meralco, Manila Water, Maynilad, PLDT. But the most notorious of all are the department store chains. One sees a cashier or bagger at this department store and in five months, you see him or her in another department store. It is almost a daily occurrence in supermarkets or department stores to hear their cashiers and baggers talk among themselves when will their contracts expire or their experiences in this or that department store.

    The so-called Herrera-Veloso law has been cited very often as the basis of contractualization so what does former Sen. Herrera have to say about this?

  5. atty boy herrera, me thinks that contractualization is here to stay. siguro, what you and other labor leaders should do is to convince the lawmakers to make the salaries of the contractual workers higher than what the regular employees get since these contract laborers do not get sss, philhealth insurance, benefits etc. make it expensive to companies who contract labor