TWO of the country’s top corporations, the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) and the Philippine Airlines (PAL) and sister company PAL Express face stiff sanctions for violating the law against illegal work contracting and sub-contracting, according to the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE).
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd disclosed on Tuesday that PLDT, owned by businessman Manuel Pangilinan, and PAL of business tycoon Lucio Tan were among the big companies subjected recently to a Special Assessment/Visit Establishment (SAVE), DOLE’s mechanism to assess, validate and verify compliance with labor laws and their contractors/sub-contractors.
President Rodrigo Duterte also recently labeled Tan as a tax evader.
During the inspection, Bello said, violations were found on PLDT, mostly among its sub-contractors and majority of which are not even registered or with expired registration.
“I will order the regularization of close to 10,000 workers under contracting and sub-contracting arrangements but are performing jobs that are directly related to PLDT’s business,” Bello said in a news briefing.
If PLDT fails to comply, “we will close them,” he warned.
“Imagine PLDT, one of the biggest companies in our country contracting out with unregistered service providers,” Bello said.
On PAL and PAL Express, including their contractors and sub-contractors, violations were noted on general labor standards and occupational safety and health standards.
Their contractors’ workers are also performing jobs directly related to the main business of the companies.
According to Bello, the firms may have other sister companies that are engaged in the same nefarious activities, saying “[w]e will not allow that to happen.”
DoLE Department Order (DO) 174, or the Rules Implementing Articles 106-109 of the Labor Code, prohibits the following: labor-only contracting; farming out of work through “cabo;” contracting out of job or work through an in-house agency; contracting out of job or work through an in-house cooperative that merely supplies workers to the principal; contracting out of a job or work by reason of a strike or lockout, whether actual or imminent; and contracting out of a job or work being performed by union members and such will interfere with, restrain or coerce employees in the exercise of their rights to self-organization as provided in Article 259 of the Labor Code, as amended.
It also prohibits contractors and sub-contractors to require their employees to perform functions that are currently being performed by the regular employees of the principal.
The order also bars the contractors and sub-contractors to oblige the workers to sign, as a precondition to employment or continued employment, an antedated resignation letter, a blank payroll, a waiver of labor standards including minimum wages and social or welfare benefits or a quit claim releasing the principal or contractor from liability as to payment of future claims.
Further, it prohibits the contractors and sub-contractors to require the employees to become members of a cooperative and to repeatedly hire the employees under an employment contract of short duration.
The Labor department’s investigating team head, Undersecretary Joel Maglungsod, said the erring firms were circumventing the law, prompting the affected workers to complain because of violation of their security of tenure.
Maglungsod noted that in the 1990s, PLDT has some 15,000 regular workers but it dwindled down to more than half because of illegal contractualization.
PLDT has a rank- and -file union with around 1,000 members and supervisory union with almost 5,000 members.
“So after SAVE, we came out with findings that workers [doing regular work]are being sourced out from the agency or contractors,” Maglungsod said.
“We have already an exit conference [with PLDT]last January. We presented to them our findings and ordered them to correct their mistakes,” he added.
On PAL and PAL Express, Maglungsod said they were still in the process of completing their assessment and collating and validating their findings.