After decades of consistent struggle against the epidemic of contractualization, workers may finally get their demand for its total prohibition, at least at the level of the Office of the President.
This chance became clearer when the President, after a three-hour dialogue with labor leaders Monday evening, demonstrated empathy and understanding for the plight of Filipino workers by reiterating his position that he is not going to renege on his promise to end contractualization both in the private and public sector.
“Ayoko itong agency agency... walang agency agency hiring. Kawawa ang worker sa ganito,” declared President Duterte during the meeting as he directed Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to come out with a Department Order that will meet the objective of restoring the norm of regular jobs through direct hiring.
DOLE was also instructed to resolve the 2011 PAL-PALEA dispute on outsourcing the soonest time possible.
Furthermore, the President indicated that he was inclined to honor the request of labor to certify HB 4444 of Rep. Raymond Mendoza (TUCP Partylist) as an urgent administration measure.
The President pointed out that contractualization only enriches the employer but keeps the workers poor and unable to plan a better life for the future. He also added that many agencies are also owned by the employers and are just a legal camouflage to prevent the regularization of workers and to defeat the workers 'exercise of their rights under the Constitution.
The dialogue ended months of speculation in the business community that the President may only be after agencies that were practicing endo (the hiring of workers only for five months) as he categorically stated that his policy extends fully to ending contractualization through middlemen or manpower agencies.
More than a third of total workforce employed in establishments employing 20 workers and above is considered ‘non-regular’, according to the latest survey conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). The number would rise significantly had the survey covered firms employing 20 workers and below as they comprise more than 90% of registered business establishments.
Now the DOLE was instructed to play hardball and a major challenge is posed upon Congress as well. Will DOLE officials and members of Congress who, during the past several months, were pushing for the compromise position (win-win) being proposed by the DTI and employers’ groups finally toe the line of the President?
We therefore urge our fellow workers to remain vigilant to make sure that government bodies under instruction to comply with our demands do not stray out of line. This recent advance in our struggle for decent work confirms the power of unions and organized resistance in winning the battle against anti-labor policies.
Hundreds of Nagkaisa members kept vigil and lit candles at the foot of Mendiola while their leaders meet the President last night. A day of action by women workers will also be held on March 6 and 8.
The President also made several other commitments that we need to press forward, including our proposals to review and make changes to the old regime of wage setting; the signing of ILO Convention 151 for the public sector; representation in tripartite bodies; deputization of labor leaders as inspectors; and the holding of regular dialogues with labor, including meeting with the striking transport workers.
It ain’t over until it’s over. Workers have a world to win. The struggle goes on.
28 February 2017