A showdown between organized labor and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) seems inevitable because of their contrasting stands on the issue of contractual employment, or endo (end of contract).
Under endo, workers are hired for only five months and fired after five months, mainly for employers to skip regularizing them.
The labor coalition Nagkaisa and other allied groups on Wednesday accused DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd of “deception” for his plan to adopt the “win-win” solution being pushed by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP).
On Tuesday, Bello, in a news conference in Malacañang, declared as “doable” the target of ending illegal forms of contractualization by 2017 while batting at the same time for the proposed formula of the DTI and the employers’ lobby group.
“Bello’s statements were deceptive and unacceptable, first, because illegal forms of contractualization, specifically the labor-only contracting scheme, have long been banned by law and second, the ‘win-win solution’ will make the business model of job contracting or outsourcing legal,” Partido Manggagawa’s Rene Magtubo said.
Under the “win-win” structure presented by the lobby group to the DOLE, the workers will be hired instead by the service providers, not by the companies, as regular workers with full benefits, such as leave credits, 13th month pay, retirement pay and SSS and PhilHealth benefits, among others.
But the same formula also states that “workers get deployed or redeployed when needed” and “companies have the flexibility to hire workers as regular or outsource due to seasonality or specific functions,” so companies can focus on building the business.
Magtubo said recent labor summits conducted nationwide were unanimous in rejecting the “win-win” formula as workers were pushing for an end to all forms of contractualization and fixed-term employment.
“There is no real gain for workers under ‘win-win.’ In fact, we suffer real losses because the right to security of tenure is now built on the false capacity of contractors to meet their social and financial obligations to workers.
These contractors will never have the means to address workers’ guaranteed rights on freedom of association and collective bargaining. The DTI ‘solution’ is in fact intended to spare the real employers of their obligations to workers by making sure that no genuine employer-employee relationship is created under this arrangement,” Josua Mata of Sentro explained.
Mata said adopting the ”win-win” solution will make DOLE party to making the workers’ basic constitutional rights unattainable and illusory under a regime that promises real change.
The group pointed out that what President Rodrigo Duterte had promised was certification of a bill to end all forms of contractualization.
It called on the President to certify as urgent and for Congress to pass the consolidated Zarate-Mendoza bill or House Bill 4444.
“The DOLE secretary has badly misread the temper of the times. The vote that elected Duterte is as much about stopping contractualization as it is about stopping drugs,” said Alan Tanjusay, spokesman for the Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines.
Nagkaisa is holding a big demonstration on November 30 to protest what it bewails as government’s U-turn on contractualization.