LEADERS from both business and labor sectors yesterday urged President Rodrigo Duterte to set a clear policy on contractualization that will allow thousands of jobs to be saved.
During the campaign, Duterte promised to stop “endo” or the practice of giving workers short-term contracts then letting them go before they are entitled to the benefits of full-time employment.
Buboi Belarmino of the Cebu Labor Coalition (Celac) said his group is for ending contractualization and will support such a program of the Duterte administration.
However, Belarmino also said he is unsure if all sectors concerned and the Duterte administration have the same interpretation of “endo.” Contractualization is based on Republic Act 6715, and Belarmino believes it’s unlikely that business-friendly members of Congress would repeal it.
“That’s why we are also in doubt if the Duterte administration’s program includes ending the employment agencies (recognized by Department of Labor and Employment or DOLE in contracting workers for big companies),” Belarmino said.
Businessman Bunny Pages, chairman and chief executive officer of Pages Holdings Inc., suggested that the rules and procedures be thoroughly studied first.
“Enough consultations must be made with the business sector, labor groups and DOLE to make sure that the new practice is fair to all sides,” said Pages, who was named Entrepreneur of the Year 2015 by the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
“I agree that a full review is long overdue on this practice because it has loopholes that have been abused to the detriment of workers for years now,” Pages added.
The CCCI will conduct a Labor Relations Forum from 1 to 5 p.m. on Aug. 19, 2016 in the Cebu Grand Hotel.
CCCI President Melanie Ng said this is in line with the Duterte administration’s policy agenda to strengthen the partnership between business and labor, and ensure compliance by both with labor standards and regulations.
In Cebu, DOLE 7 is waiting for a written directive from their central office before proceeding with the assessment of different industries and working conditions.
DOLE 7 information officer Luchel Taniza said in an interview two weeks ago that their head office is creating a Technical Working Group that will craft a system that will be used in looking into the contracts and requirements of companies that practice “endo.”
In a separate interview, Rep. Raymond Democrito Mendoza of TUCP Party-List described contractualization as an evil and illegal practice.
“It is time to finally do away with five-month endo contracts. President Duterte is absolutely correct that endo work is precarious work that dehumanizes workers. It is often work without minimum wage, without Pag-IBIG (Home Mutual Development Fund), without SSS (Social Security System) and without Philhealth. If workers do not get security of tenure after six months of working, they cannot plan for their future and their families are denied hope,” Mendoza said.
“End contractualization and the workers will produce goods and services that are world-class. End contractualization and you make sure that GDP (gross domestic product) growth benefits all Filipinos and not just 40 rich families,” Mendoza said.
For his part, Glenn Soco, president of the Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI), said the plan to end labor contractualization is too general and needs to be properly defined.
“Business and community are divided on the issue because of the lack of clearer terms regarding the plan. In general terms, you cannot eradicate contractualization as it is a necessary component in business. The trend now globally is outsourcing and to some extent that is synonymous with contractualization,” Soco said.
“Although there is a need to also provide for a better working environment for our employees as some existing laws tend to be abused,” Soco said.
He added that what’s needed is the proper enforcement of DOLE Order No. 18-A and the reevaluation of labor policies “to adapt to the present times.” (With Euchrissa Theresa Ladrera, UP Cebu Intern)