“Workers can only rely on unity.”
By JUSTIN UMALI
LAGUNA – Labor groups are not at all surprised when President Rodrigo Duterte vetoed the security of tenure (SOT) bill, saying the President “has long been anti-worker.”
Duterte recently vetoed the bill, citing the need to further study the measure to end the practice of contractualization.
Geraldine Gomez, spokesperson of Pepmaco Workers Union (PWU), an affiliate of Kilusang Mayo Uno, said in a statement, “We are not surprised with the fate of the SOT Bill. From DO 174 to EO 51, it is obvious President Duterte is not serious with ending Endo. Our month-long strike is proof enough.”
Department Order 174, signed by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III in 2017, formalizes rules on contracting and subcontracting. Under DO 174, contractual relationship between employers, agencies, and employees remains intact through Articles 106 to 109 of the Labor Code, with a provision that employers cannot remove employees without ensuring that their agency can move them to another employer.
Duterte’s 2018 Executive Order 51, meanwhile, has removed a section which stipulated “direct hiring as the general norm of employer-employee relations.”
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Workers of Pepmaco, Nutriasia and Zagu, all contractual employees, are currently on strike. They are demanding for regularization and increase in wages.
According to Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan (Pamantik), the regional chapter of KMU in Southern Tagalog, over 30,000 workers in the region were declared by Labor Department, through decisions, as regular workers but are still forced to work under contractual arrangements in their respective companies.
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Pamantik and Kilusang Mayo Uno both criticised Duterte for giving in to the pressure from American Chamber of Commerce and the Employers’ Confederation of the Philippines.
The two business groups have urged the President to veto the SOT bill, arguing that the right to contract labor is constitutionally guaranteed under the “right and freedom to contract and the right to property.”
Elmer Labor, KMU chairperson, said, “The workers are outraged with how shameless this government can be when it comes to kowtowing to foreign dictates–be it US, China and other multinational and transnational enterprises.”
Workers remain steadfast in their fight for regularization.
“Workers can only rely on unity,” said Gomez. “We must remain united in the fight for our right to regular employment.”