The KMU asked the government to infuse its anti-contractualization efforts with an aim of promoting regular employment.
By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA – It is high time the government moves on to “more concrete and decisive measures” toward ending ENDO (end of contract) and contractualization.
This is the message brought to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on August 19 by over a thousand workers with the labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU). They brought “concrete proposals on ending contractualization” in a dialogue with Labor Undersecretary Joel Maglunsod.
KMU chairperson Elmer “Ka Bong” Labog welcomed the efforts and stated commitment of the DOLE to check the growing prevalence of contractualization in the country. The Duterte administration which promised to end ENDO, or significantly reduce it, marked its 50th day in office this week with a report on its achievements so far. But on ending contractualization, workers said the labor department has yet to move beyond studying how to concretely address it.
Concrete proposals toward licking ENDO
Unlike in previous presidencies which the KMU unequivocally criticized, it professed an openness to working with the Duterte administration in many workers’ issues. But, it asked the DOLE to first “distinguish itself from previous pro-capitalist administrations by promoting clear and concrete pro-worker policies.”
The KMU urged DOLE to junk its Department order 18-A series (DO-18-A) of 2011. They said it institutionalized contractualization by pointing ways for the employers to circumvent labor laws and employ contractuals with a legal blessing. The former Aquino administration issued the said department order in 2011 in response to protests.
But instead of ending contractualization, since its implementation, DO 18-A only pushed upward the number of temporary contractual workers, Labog noted.
Non-government think-tank IBON foundation estimates that four out of ten (43.5%) of rank-and-file workers in establishments with 20 or more employees are now hired under various contractual or non-regular employment schemes. The data are based on government surveys from 2013 to 2014.
Reports on the ground suggest that contractualization is more pervasive.
Among the thousand workers who trooped with KMU to DOLE were years-long contractual workers in large companies. Where they work, the ratio of contractuals or non-regulars to regular workers is double that in government estimates.
In Southern Tagalog, the region with biggest number of employed in the past few years, eight to nine per 10 employees are non-regulars, reported Pamantik-KMU.
In some large mining companies in Mindanao that employed hundreds of workers each, few or no workers are regular. Majority are contractual or seasonal workers, even if they have been working with the same mining company for years now.
The KMU asked the government to infuse its anti-contractualization efforts with an aim of promoting regular employment. They said all contractual employment schemes violate workers’ rights.
Labog cautioned the DOLE against making a distinction between labor-only contracting and job contracting. He stressed that all forms of contractual employment schemes deny workers their basic rights and tramples their dignity as human beings.
“Contractualization, whether employed in legal or illegal schemes, subject workers to worst forms of labor exploitation,” Labog reminded their former colleague who is now Labor Undersecretary.
Labor groups have pointed to tragic examples: the 72 contractual workers of Kentex Manufacturing who perished in factory fire, the construction workers of Lucio Tan’s Eton.
The labor leader also urged the Duterte administration to ask the “super-majority” in Congress to certify as urgent the House Bill 556 or the Regular Employment Bill filed by Anakpawis Partylist. It seeks to amend the Labor Code and junk its Article 106-109, which labor groups decry as “legalized contractualization.”
The dialogue between Maglunsod and labor leaders also tackled other workers’ issues such as the implementation of a National Minimum Wage of P750 ($16), the urgent resolution of labor cases, junking of the Single Entry Approach (SEnA) policy and the restrictive requirements on Workers’ Organization and Development Program (WODP), and the repression and militarization of workers’ strikes.