RETAIL giant SM might soon face scrutiny from lawmakers over their alleged illegal labor practices after a party-list group on Wednesday filed a resolution seeking to investigate its “endo empire.”

“It is about time that Congress looks into [Henry] Sy’s ‘Endo empire’ and the working conditions of hundreds of thousands of contractual workers in it, in line with President [Rodrigo] Duterte’s promise to end Endo or contractualization. Panahon na para aksyunan ng Kongreso ang matagal nang suspetsa ng publiko – na biktima ang SM workers ng masahol na kontraktwalisasyon,” said Gabriela Partylist Representative Emmi De Jesus.

SM is the "biggest mall operator in the Philippines" according to its website. It was founded by Sy in 1985. The company, however, was alleged to be a notorious violator of labor practices.

Last year, SM addressed the issue and said that they do not contractualize employees.

"SM does not do contractualization. We do hire for seasons. We have a lot of regular employees. We have to follow the law, and we will find ways to survive," SM Investment Corp. President Harley Sy said.

But according to De Jesus’ data, she said SM claimed it has only 65,000 regular employees in 2016 "while at the same time claiming in an earlier period that it employs 220,751.”

"Does this mean that roughly three-fourths of SM employees are indirectly employed under different contractors? Our colleagues at the House should investigate this,” she said.

“Isang mainam na pagkakataon ang imbestigasyon sa SM bilang test case para alamin ng ating mga kasamahan sa Kongreso ang latag ng kontraktwalisasyon partikular sa wholesale and retail trade,” De Jesus added.

For her part, Gabriela Partylist Representative Arlene Brosas said the House probe is in line with Duterte’s campaign promise to end all forms of contractualization.

“Seryoso tayo na wakasan ang kontraktwalisasyon. At seryoso rin tayong itulak ang Pangulo at mga sangay ng gobyerno kabilang ang Mababang Kapulungan para totohanin ito,” Brosas said.

Labor groups had expected the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) to comply with Duterte’s promise to end all forms of contractualization, but the agency only came out with a department order that still allows some forms of contractualization to exist.

The issue of endo is widely anticipated to be tackled by Duterte during his second State of the Nation Address on Monday. (SunStar Philippines)