WHILE most people take farewells hard, for Mary (real name withheld), the consequence of changing employers every five months as a contractual worker has become as common as changing clothes.
A transgender woman, the 25-year-old told Sun.Star Cebu that even with eyes closed, she could still find her way to the government agencies where she had to get the employment requirements she was asked to comply with.
“Of course, it’s sad to say goodbye to the colleagues you’ve spent time with for the past few months, but you’ve got to do what you have to do and be realistic. I have to be strong because grief won’t pay the bills,” she said in Cebuano.
She has been working as a contractual worker in clothing stores, food stalls and cafes to name a few, since graduating from high school almost nine years ago.
Although she had opted for a career in business management, her family’s financial condition made her decide to set aside her dreams and stand as their bread winner.
While the pay she gets as a contractual worker is enough to provide the basic needs, it can’t sustain a family with siblings still in high school.
“I chose to become the bread winner because (as a trans) I’m not sure I’ll ever get married and helping my family has always been my goal. College was just second in line,” she said.
Like Mary, Don, 27 has set aside his dreams of becoming a policeman to help his family, who was among those subjected to a demolition in a slum area in Cebu City a few years back.
In a separate interview, he said his father’s mild stroke some years ago pushed him to apply as a contractual worker to have something they could use for his dad’s medicine.
“I know I should have finished school, but it was the best choice I had at that time. Honestly, the pay was not enough so I even went as far as collecting the plastic bottles and cups in a previous diner I worked for just to have extra income,” he said.
He recalled how he would worry as the end of his contract neared and how it would mean that he had to yet again apply for a job that sometimes took him three months.
He, however, said he does not have any regrets as all his hard work has helped his dad’s recovery and made him appreciate life even more.
Now a licensed security guard, Don is happier and hopes that one day, everyone will feel as secure as he is on the job.
Although an open contract worker, Jun, 24, shares Don’s sentiments, saying that everyone is entitled to equal job opportunity.
“I just remembered the friends I’ve made over the years whose contracts were not renewed. I’m a father so I understand how hard it is to be employed today and jobless a few days later, leaving your family starving,” he said.
Working for four years now as a janitor in one of the local malls in the city, he said he’s “blessed” to have a kindhearted supervisor who has been renewing his contract every year.
With the Department of Labor and Employment taking its first step in ending the practice of endo (end of contract) following the orders of President Rodrigo Duterte, Mary, Don and Jun are all hoping for a better working condition for everyone.
Jun said this would help prevent endo workers from getting discouraged and they would exert more effort in their jobs.
“I hope it will be realized. Sometimes, I feel like we’re neglected, but this is a great step toward a better life for us. I hope that would mean I’ll stay here for a long time because I like it here and this is just my second day. Look, I just got my uniform and it would be a shame for me to give this up again after five months,” Mary said.