Category Archives: Unemployment

Labor group cautions gov’t about plans of hiring foreign workers for infra program, demands transparency on all the loans to be incurred

Photo by: Google

The government should first ensure that the foreign workers it is planning to hire en masse for its ambitious infrastructure program would enjoy the same rights and welfare as any local worker.

“Mr. Duterte can’t even improve the rights of local workers by living up to his promise to end contractualization, now he wants to add more workers from abroad to be exploited by his friends among the oligarchs,” said Josua Mata, Secretary General of Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO).

The Philippine Labor Code does not allow migrant workers employed in the country to join and form unions unless the same rights are given to Filipino migrant workers in their respective countries.

“Unless migrant workers are allowed to join or form unions in the destination country, labor standards in their line of work would most likely deteriorate,” Mata said.

Last week, Legaspi Representative Joey Salceda said that the Philippines is considering importing skilled construction workers from Burma and China once the so-called “golden age of infrastructure program” of the Duterte administration or Build Build Build gets into in full swing.

“It is also grossly insensitive of this government to even think of getting foreign workers to build the country’s planned infrastructure projects when we have not even addressed our own growing unemployment problem,” Mata said.

According to Salceda, the government would need 3.9 skilled labor force which the country cannot supply and is facing labor constraints as the growing demand for laborers like welders, carpentry, masonry and related skilled work construction could not be provided due to lack of training, adding that the construction industry needs more workers for the government’s infrastructure program and the demand could not be addressed by the K to 12 graduates unless they undergo Tesda training.

“Just like what Salceda himself said, K to 12 graduates can be trained by TESDA so why not concentrate on this training in the TESDA centers across the country?” added Mata.

“At the same time, government should make the wages for skilled Filipinos more competitive so that the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Kuwait and other parts of the globe who are skilled enough could have the option of coming home and take the challenge for themselves in the rebuilding and modernizing their own country,” Mata said.

According to Mata, to finance its [government] infrastructure program, “it would be spending huge amount of money squeezed from the taxes from millions of Filipinos augmented with foreign loans which in the end will be paid for again by Filipinos long after Mr. Duterte was out of office,” Mata said. “Hence the program should maximize utilizing local inputs including labor,” Mata added.

SENTRO warns government not to follow the footsteps of other countries who are now saddled with onerous loans from China, which as a condition, utilizes Chinese raw materials and labor.

“We urge Mr. Duterte and his economic managers and planners to disclose all conditionalities for loans to be used in this project and hold public consultations about plans on how to maximize these projects,” Mata said.

“Our country’s development is much too important for all of us to leave it in the hands of a few economic technocrats,” Mata concluded.

Labor group challenges ECOP and DTI officials to live on P512.00 a day as contractual worker

The Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisang at Progresibong Manggagawa is challenging the employers and officials of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to try for five months, to live with the National Capital Region’s minimum rate of P512.00 a day, to know how it feels to live on a very limited wage daily and without assurance if they still have jobs after five months.

“I think this is going to be the most effective way for them to learn a thing or two about poverty, a word which they understand only in theory,” said Josua Mata, Secretary General of Sentro, reacting to the statements issued by the DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez saying that direct hiring cannot be forced upon employers.

The Employers Confederation of the Philippines said that the Executive Order against contractualization will destabilize the economy.

According to Mata, the unrestrained contractualization if allowed to continue will destabilize not only the economy, but every fabric of the Philippine society.

“Lopez’s explanation that the worse thing about being exploited is NOT to be exploited is another way of saying that workers are better off consigned to a life of poverty surviving through a series of disposable jobs compared with being unemployed, is so insensitive and inhumane that warrants his resignation immediately,” Mata said.

On Ecop’s claim that regularization will destabilize the economy, Mata countered that if the unhindered contractualization is allowed to continue, it will not only destabilize the economy but also the social fabric of the country.

Mata explained that the overwhelmingly poor who fell victims to the government’s war on drugs is testament of how poverty can deaden one’s judgement on what is wrong and what is right. Poor and without enough power, these victims did not have any shield against syndicates.

“The president should fulfill his campaign promises to end contractualization. It is the only salvage for working people to be away from poverty and allow them to share in building the nation. The capitalists cannot do that because aside from being limited in number, their instincts naturally bring them to bitterly compete with their kind in securing more profits. Yes, in the process they create wealth, the question is, does the society as a whole and workers in particular benefit from these wealth creation, no, it’s the other way around, the capitalist benefit more from the workers supported by government controlled by capitalists,” Mata said adding that as proof, ultra-rich Filipinos are becoming richer every year while poor Filipinos are becoming poorer every day.

Sentro is a member of NAGKAISA labor coalition.

 

Affected workers call for implementation of DOLE’s regularization order, Bats for the issuance of EO that will prohibit contracting

Photo by: Del Banares/Sentro

Workers from across industries are appealing to the government for the immediate implementation of previous Department of Labor and Employment’s order for regularization and has called on their respective companies to follow the example of set by fast food giant Jollibee as it recently agreed to regularize its contractual workers.
“We laud the decision of Jollibee’s management to fully comply with DOLE’s decision,” Benedict Murillo, a leader of Respect Fast Food Workers’ Alliance, said. “We urge the company to enjoin its all franchises to do the same,” he added.

A total of 2,488 employees of Sofitel, Manila Peninsula, Holiday Inn Makati, Fairmont and Raffles, Dusit Thani Manila, New World Renaissance, Manila Pavillion have been anxiously waiting for their regularization as ordered by DOLE on separate occasions.
According to Daniel L. Edralin, Secretary General of the National Union of Workers in Hotel Restaurant and Allied Industries (NUWHRAIN), his group has requested labor inspections to a total of 10 hotels, “but only seven inspections actually took place, with a dismal compliance rate on the part of the companies.”

“Based on our records, compliance to the DOLE’s order only happened in Dusit Thani and Manila Peninsula, although there are still workers due for regularization,” Edralin explained.
In an inspection in February last year, DOLE-NCR found that some 200 employees of Sual Power Plant are due for regularization but the workers are still waiting for the compliance order despite formally writing to DOLE-NCR on four separate occasions. This according to Roman Dastas of Workers’ Solidarity Network (WSN).

May Flor Palad of Pinagisang Tinig at Lakas ng Anak Pawis (PIGLAS) said that in HAMLIN, a garment company that is part of the supply chain of various global brands, the labor department ordered the company to comply in February last year, with close to 1,000 workers due for regularization. The order remains unimplemented and some workers were actually dismissed by the management after attempting to invoke the order.

Photo By: Del Banares/Sentro

According to Rodel Abenoja of SENTRO Davao, the Sky Cable’s branches in the cities of Tagum and Davao were found by DOLE guilty of the prohibited labor only contracting and a total of 77 employees should have been regularized on July 27, 2018. The order remains unimplemented.
In the case of PEPSI in Davao, DOLE has claimed compliance by the management which would have benefitted 85 workers but according to Sentro, the union in that branch did not receive compliance order and the region’s DOLE office failed to provide a copy of the compliance order when asked by the union for a copy.

According to Josua Mata, Secretary General of Sentro, the long delayed implementation proves that DOLE’s regulatory framework does not work.

“The biggest problem is that companies would generally challenge DOLE’s decisions in courts. This shows DO174 is failing to deliver Duterte’s promise,” Mata said.
In general, employers are given only 10 days from receipt of inspection results with findings of violations to correct violations of labor standards.

The labor leader explained that this is the reason why SENTRO and NAGKIASA, together with KMU and other labor groups, are calling for the issuance of an EO that would correct DO 174.
“That EO should veer away from regulating contractualization and instead work for prohibiting it, of course with some exemptions to be agreed upon,” he explained, adding that a watered down EO that DOLE and the Department of Trade and Industry has been planning will not repair the leaks of the DO 147.

Unfortunately, after more than 2 years, the president has been hemming and hawing over the issuance of an Executive Order that will signal the government’s resolve to prohibit contractualization with some exemptions.

DOLE announced that an EO would finally be signed in Malacañang on 16 April 2018.
However, Mata said that SENTRO leaders will not attend the event in Malacañang on 16 April 2018 unless it is clear that the EO to be signed is labor’s version and not the one peddled by DOLE and DTI which would only perpetuate the flawed DO 174. “SENTRO stands by NAGKAISA’s decision not to be a party to a sellout,” Mata said.

NAGKAISA is the broadest labor coalition in the country. NUWHRAIN, WSN, PIGLAS and Respect Fast Food Workers are affiliates of SENTRO.#

Time is up: The buck stops now with the President on the issue of endo

PRESS STATEMENT
NAGKAISA! Labor Coalition
28 February 2018

Contractualization was a top billing issue during the 2016 presidential election. And it was the President who made a campaign promise that the moment he becomes the Chief Executive, contractualization will stop. The trade union movement responded with enthusiasm and accorded the President the courtesy and latitude of managing his plans by participating in all the summits, workshops, and dialogues organized by the government on this issue.

Several times he asked leaders of Nagkaisa labor coalition that he be given more time to realize his pledge – the first was on February 27, 2017; then on May 1, 2017; and the last was on February 7, 2018 where he asked for another extension until March 15. On these occasions, President Duterte would always say that contractualization is anti-labor and anti poor as it brings in hardship and poverty upon millions of our workers.

Furthermore, it was also the President who asked Nagkaisa leaders during the Labor Day dialogue held in Davao last year to draft within 10 days an Executive Order (EO) that he can sign to correct the labor-rejected Department Order 174 issued by the Department of Labor and Empoyment (DOLE) in March last year and to rectify the more than two decades of failed framework of regulation. Nagkaisa religiously complied with all these processes and waited for the final response of the President.

Now, a few days before his self-imposed deadline and the President is no longer asking for time and more drafts but for a compromise. The buck stops now with President Duterte. The labor-drafted EO which seeks to bring back direct hiring and institutionalize prohibition as the general rule on contractualization but recognizes that there are types of jobs that can be contracted out as along as it passes through consultation with the National Tripartite and Industrial Peace Council (NTIPC) is the fairest middle ground or “compromise” that labor can take. A watered-down version of an EO is unacceptable.

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Nagkaisa hails passage of Security of Tenure Bill

Labor Coalition Nagkaisa! is satisfied over the passage on third reading of HB 6908 on the Security of Tenure at the House of Representatives.

Nagkaisa! said that “the SOT bill is a great improvement to existing legislation as it gives more teeth to the government by providing penalties for those who will violate the security of tenure laws.”

“This is the farthest a proposed law on SOT has gone for decades,” said Nagkaisa! “Now, it’s time to get the Senate moving on their proposed SOT measure.”

“HB 6908 gives more flesh and blood to the guaranteed right to security of tenure,” Nagkaisa! said. “It’s not perfect or ideal, but we can live with it,” said Nagkaisa!, the largest labor coalition in the country.

Fear of employers allayed

Nagkaisa! also addressed fears of employers who went on record saying that they will have a “big problem” if the proposed measure was passed. “If the big problem employers have about HB 6908 refers to the potential cutbacks in the windfall of profits a number of employers have been amassing through the massive abuse of workers via contractualization for decades, the bill intends to do just that,” Nagkaisa! said. “Employers who do not abuse workers through contractualization have nothing to fear,” Nagkaisa! added.

“Never in the history of employment relationship in the country has workers enjoying regular employment and implementation of strict rules in labor contracting been detrimental to the economy and job generation,” Nagakaisa! said.

“Job generation is a function of the development of sectors of the economy influenced by economic policies of the government, and not by labor contracting practices,” Nagkaisa explained.

A “serious problem” employers noted is that if the SOT bill becomes a law, it will be detrimental to the economy and job creation. Nagksaisa! countered the argument. “Workers with regular employment generate more income, thus, with more purchasing power contribute to increasing demand in goods and services that lead to higher income taxes and VAT for the government. These are all good for the economy,” said Nagkaisa.

“The fear that the HB can lead to unemployment is only possible if they are not paying their contractual employees what the law currently demands. In other words, their argument is an admission that they are doing business at the expense of workers’ rights – and they want to continue doing so,” Nagkaisa! added.

The recent statement by the employers didn’t specify which provisions of the bill they strongly disagree with.

Nagkaisa! said it was grateful to Labor Committee Chair Rep. Randolph Ting who steered the discussions and Rep. Raymond Mendoza of TUCP Partylist and Rep. Tom Villarin of Akbayan Partylist who co-authored the SOT Bill and helped defend it together with Nagkaisa.