Unemployment remains high – ECOP

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EVEN as it posted the strongest economic growth in Asia at 7.1 percent, unemployment rate in the Philippines remains high owing to abusive behavior of some emplloyers who continue to circumvent the law prohibiting contractualization.

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“Some 25 million to 35 million of the [country’s] 42 million workforce remain on contractual status or underemployed because of abusive capitalists who are still into the illegal practice of endo [end of contract]despite the fact that it is prohibited by law,” said Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr., honorary chairman of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP), in a weekly news forum at the Aristocrat Restaurant in Malate, Manila.

Ortiz pointed out that endo is being resorted to by some big businesses to avoid regularizing their workers, which carries the provision of full benefits, including leave credits, 13th month pay, SSS and PhilHealth perks, among others.

He, however, noted that more than 25,000 contractual workers have already been regularized since the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) started its two-tiered campaign to cut endo by 50 percent before the year ends and totally stop it by end-2017.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd said many big establishments that employ thousands of contractual workers have started complying even as he admitted that “putting a stop to endo or illegal contractualziation will not be that easy.”

Progressive labor group Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) said the owner of a chain of department stores is the number one violator of illegal work contracting.

BMP Chairman Leody de Guzman told The Manila Times earlier that the biggest chain of department stores employs some 49,000 contractual wokers at any given time.

The other violators, he added, are food chains and telecommunication and food manufacturing firms.

Contractualization, or endo or “555” is a precarious work arrangement where workers are hired only for 5 months and are rehired for another 5 months to avoid regularizing them to improve margin of profit.

Labor contractualization is prohibited under the Constitution and existing laws, particularly Article 280 of the 44-year-old Labor Code of the Philippines.

Labor groups ar e pushed amendment of the Labor Code and revocation of DOLE Department Order 18-A, and to criminalize the practice of contractualization.

According to de Guzman, there is a need to amend Articles 106 to 109 of the code, which granted the Labor secretary the power to regulate, restrict or prohibit contractual employment.

WD/CC

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