Wednesday, December 8, 2010

PM calls on Congress to regulate contractualization schemes

Press Release
December 8, 2010

In the wake of the overwhelming vote for a strike by members of the Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA), the militant Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) called on the House Labor Committee (LaborCom) to legislate restrictions on various contractualization schemes that have become widespread business practice. “Congress should read the writing on the wall. Contractualization is worsening the conditions of workers and is provoking labor unrest. It is high time to strictly regulate this pernicious practice that is subverting Constitutionally-guaranteed rights to security of tenure and freedom of self-organization,” stated Renato Magtubo, PM chair.

PALEA members voted decisively in favor of a strike in balloting that started yesterday morning and ended at midnight. The LaborCom held a hearing this afternoon at the Batasang Pambansa on the various pending bills on security of tenure that was attended by labor leaders including officers of PALEA and PM. Later at 6:30 pm hundreds of PM and PALEA members and supporters trooped to the UP Diliman Film Center for the film screening of the indie movie “Endo” about the life of a temporary worker.

PM is advocating that contractual work only be allowed for seasonal work and project-based employment. Magtubo explained that “Contractual employment must be prohibited if the work is already done by regular workers, or in the words of the Labor Code, if the work is necessary and desirable to the business of the company. At present, more and more contractual workers are displacing regular employees and doing the same work but for cheaper wages, less benefits, worse conditions and without the protection of a union. The Philippines is becoming a nation of contractuals.”

“We further call on PNoy to make a policy statement by declaring the security of tenure bills as priority legislation and make a model out of the PAL case by striking a settlement that meets the demands of PALEA for job security,” Magtubo asserted.

“The real aim of outsourcing and subcontracting is not efficiency and productivity. Its hidden agenda is to lessen labor costs and compete on the basis of cheap labor. The ulterior motive of contractualization is go around the protection for workers presently provided in the Labor Code such as the minimum wage, social security, employee benefits, separation pay and the freedom to have a voice and representation in the workplace through a union,” Magtubo argued.

The labor group also opposed the lobby of employers groups calling for more liberal policy on outsourcing and less restriction on termination of workers. Magtubo claimed that “Liberalization of outsourcing, subcontracting and termination will lead to the further oppression and destitution of workers. It will accelerate the race to the bottom in wages and working conditions that contractualization is fostering. Just as an example employers are now turning to manpower agencies masquerading as labor cooperatives in order to pay below minimum wages through the fiction of dividends.”

“Congress is mandated to enact laws that operationalize the mandate of the Constitution. The elegant phrases of the Constitution providing for protection to workers cannot be dead letters through inaction by solons. We ask them to expedite the passage of the pending bills,” Magtubo insisted.

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