"Why just now?"
This was the question raised by local labor group General Alliance of Workers Association (Gawa) after the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) ordered fast food chain Jollibee Foods Corporation to regularize all its employees deployed in National Capital Region (NCR).
Wennie Sancho, secretary general of Gawa, said this contrary to the statement of the government that the law has to be amended for contractualization to be totally abolished.
"If the Dole can do this by just issuing a compliance order, why should we need to wait for the amendment of the law?" Sancho asked.
On Wednesday, the agency has ordered Jollibee to grant regular employment status to 6,482 workers deployed by two contractors.
It ordered the company to refund P15.43 million in “illegally collected payments” to 426 workers.
The amount is the combined employee contributions to Coop Share, Coop Christmas Party Paluwagan Fund, and Coop Savings Fund, it said.
The Dole further ordered five Jollibee contractors to return P4.14 million in “unlawful wage deductions, bonds, donations, shares and other illegal payment collections to 412 affected workers.”
The order was issued following an inspection conducted as part of the government’s efforts to stop illegal contractualization practices.
For the labor group, however, doing such move just by now is one way of watering down the issue on contractualization because the President is not signing the Executive Order (EO) fully stopping such labor scheme.
Sancho said they doubt that the management will take it lying down as it involves almost 7,000 workers.
"The management will do everything with their battery of lawyers to see to it that they could justify the contractualization issues in their company," he said, adding that "if these workers will be regularized, this will be a very bad precedence for them."
On Thursday, Jollibee clarified that the Dole's order regarding the employment status of its workers is not yet final and executory.
The fast-food chain said following due process requirements under applicable regulations, the matter is pending appeal.
The company has been compliant with the new guidelines on contracting and subcontracting arrangements contained in Department Order (DO) No. 174, it added.
Sancho argued that under the DO, when workers are necessary, essential, or indispensable to the business and company they should not be contracted out.
"It is clearly stated in the Labor Code," Sancho said, adding that there are still many other fast-food chains including those in the provinces that need to be inspected.
Moreover, the agency has also ordered the regularization of 704 workers deployed by three contractors to Perf Restaurant, which operates the Burger King chain.
It is set to inspect next McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken outlets. (with reports from SunStar Philippines)