THE country’s biggest labor groups were frustrated and felt neglected by President Rodrigo Duterte’s failure to lay down a clear-cut policy on work contracting and other forms of short-term employment during his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday.
The Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP), through spokesman Alan Tanjusay, on Tuesday said 25 to 30 million contractual workers were expecting that the President will fulfill his promise to end the contractualization scheme during his speech.
“We are very frustrated with Mr. Duterte as it turned out but we have no choice but to continue and [raise]the ante in pressing him to fulfill his promise to abolish endo (end of contract) and all forms of contractualization,” Tanjusay said in a text message to The Manila Times.
He added that only the fulfillment of the President’s campaign promise and subsequent meetings with leaders of various labor groups to put a stop to all forms of contractualization can free millions of workers from the “slavery” of contractualized work , jobs that have no security of tenure and paid with low wages and meager benefits.
“Mr. Duterte asked labor groups for time on the issue of contractualization on Labor Day. We hope that he would abolish it as he promised he would during his SONA,” Tanjusay said.
“We urge the President to make clear in no uncertain terms, in plain, categorical language, his placing the contractual problem as among our—and his—top priorities in the national order of battle. All surveys indicate that the Top 3 concerns nationally are the spiralling the cost of goods and services, the meager wages and the lack of decent employment. All are directly traceable to the regime of contractualization,” according to the ALU-TUCP spokesman.
The group noted that during their May 1 Labor Day dialogue with Duterte in Davao City, the President asked labor leaders to draft a presidential Executive Order (EO).
The draft EO was submitted by the ALU-TUCP and the Nagkakaisa Labor Coalition last May 9 in compliance with the President’s directive.
Covered by the EO are contracting and sub-contracting arrangements including cooperatives.
The order prohibited all forms of labor contracting, labor-only contracting or job contracting, which are declared illegal and are therefore strictly prohibited.
It stated, “All parties engaged in any arrangement in violation of this EO shall automatically be considered the worker’s direct employer and the latter shall be deemed as direct employees.”
The order said violations of the EO shall be penalized under existing laws and regulations.
If the offense is committed by cooperative, corporation, partnership, trust, firm, association or any juridical entity, the penalty shall be imposed upon the guilty officers of such groups.
The draft EO, if approved by the President, will effectively nullify Department Order (DO) 174 of the Department of Labor and Employment, the new guidelines on contractualization that took effect last April 3.
DO 174 replaced DO 18-A in response to the workers’s demand to abolish contractualization.
Labor groups rejected DO 174, claiming that it only benefits employers and manpower service providers and cooperatives.
During his meeting with organized labor in Davao City, the President assured them that he understood what the workers want and suggested that “we assert our public interest power to ensure a just transition to help him meet his promise to the nation.”
“I stand firm on my conviction to end endo. Just give us time. The Labor Code guarantees all the right to security of tenure. This has to be strictly enforced. Labor laws must be enforced against endo and labor-only contracting,” Duterte told the workers.
The President admitted in the labor dialogue that there is “resistance and objections” coming from some members of his Cabinet and interest lobby groups on his decision to ban contractualization “but the President said he has no sympathy for oligarchs.”