Category Archives: Security of Tenure SOT

DTI should impose its weight against rising inflation, not on labor

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) should impose its weight against rising inflation rather than keeping the labor price low under the policy of contractualization.

The DTI has always been on the side of business, thus, when Secretary Ramon Lopez stated that contractualization “is not unfair to workers” he was essentially parroting the line of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) whose bottom line position on this issue is to keep the price of labor low to remain competitive. For DTI and ECOP, the best way to keep the price tag of labor low is to keep contractualization as the prevailing policy of the Duterte administration.

The labor movement has repeatedly rejected the “win-win” formula of DTI and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). Our bottom line is change: Direct hiring must be the new policy. This is the only way workers can actually enjoy their constitutional right to security of tenure. The DTI and DOLE position is for workers to enjoy security of tenure in their respective manning agencies and not in their principal employers as contained under Department Order 174 of DOLE. This “win-win solution” has led to a farcical situation where majority of the more than 45,000 workers reportedly “regularized” under DO 174 last year now find themselves “regularly employed” by agencies and not by the principal. The rule should be, as its name denotes, manpower agencies and other service providers should merely be treated as agents of the principals.

This is the main reason why we have been pushing for an Executive Order to correct this distortion and rectify decades of injustice imposed upon millions of workers. The Labor Secretary, and in this particular case, the President, can prohibit contractualizaton under the Labor Code.

Section 2 of the labor-proposed EO provides relief for this impasse as it states that: “Contracting or subcontracting when undertaken to circumvent the worker’s rights to security of tenure, self-organization and collective bargaining and peaceful concerted activities pursuant to the 1987 Philippine Constitution is hereby strictly prohibited. Security of tenure refers to the direct hiring relationship between the principal employer and employee.”

Contractualization under the proposed EO is still recognized. Only that the types of job that can be contracted out be done upon consultation with members of the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council (NTIPC). What the DTI wants is to perpetuate the norm of contracting out almost all jobs in the guise of management’s exercise of their prerogative. This regime, for over two decades, led to a dramatic change in employment relations, with “middlemen employers” such as manning agencies and “labor cooperatives” dominating the trade.

This norm also has dissipated almost all rights guaranteed to workers by the constitution and labor laws, from security of tenure, right to organize, collectively bargain and to strike in accordance with law, and to be represented in the formulation of policies affecting their welfare.

Again, to DTI: Contractualization is not unfair to workers? It seems like this agency is now headed by a feudal lord.

Trading workers through manpower agencies who act as middlemen in a trilateral employment relationship is feudalism, which is clearly unjust. For more than two decades, this re-feudalization of labor has become the norm and keeping the policy will perpetuate this abominable condition of poverty and inequality amid economic growth.

Hence, when we stated that the buck stops now with the President, it is because we believe the impasse can be resolve in favor of justice. It’s either change as promised by the President, or business-as-usual as demanded by ECOP.

NAGKAISA Labor Coalition

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

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.


Strike Looms in Coca-Cola as company threatens destruction of jobs

Photo by Jun Santos

Today, at least a hundred workers belonging to various unions working together under the banner of the Coalition of All Coca-Cola Workers’ Unions and their allies, swooped down on the headquarters of Coca-Cola FEMSA Philippines Incorporated (CCFPI) at Netlima in Bonifacio Global City, to once again protest the company’s plan to destroy more than 600 regular jobs, including union leaders, many of whom are young workers.

“Coca-Cola claims to be the No. 1 soft drinks company in the country, and yet, by busting the union, Coca-Cola is acting like the worst corporate thug,” the coalition said in its statement. “We have no recourse but to take strike action,” the coalition said.

In an overwhelming fashion, workers in TRCI voted last 23 February 2018 to go on strike. Meanwhile, most of the sales force unions have filed their respective Notices of Strike.

Twenty-three of those to be laid-off are union leaders, including four union presidents.  CCFPI claims that the lay-offs are being done to develop its new business model in order to conform to the challenges in the industry and the larger economic environment.

The CCFPI management and the Federation and Cooperation of Cola, Beverage, and Allied Industry Unions (FCCU-SENTRO/IUF) had an agreement which requires the management to hold discussions with the union on labor relations issues, including violations of international guidelines for industrial and labor relations like the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. The restructuring and mass lay-off on are outright violations of the above. This is outright, unabashed union busting. The lay-offs are nothing but CCFPI destroying jobs and people’s lives.

The CCFPI management uses the implementation of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) as a façade for their union busting. The workers and their families are not gullible to accept such elementary reasoning and alibi.

The Coalition of All Coca-Cola Workers’ Unions calls on the DOLE to hold the CCFPI management accountable for their callous decision to destroy their workers’ jobs. The Coalition also demands for the CFFPI management to present concrete evidence for the need to restructure and let workers be consulted in any action related to this. The Coalition also demands a joint agreement with the management that will assure them that there will be no restructuring without negotiation with our unions.

Oppose Coke’s blatant disregard for workers’ rights! 

No to Contractualization!

Stand with the Coalition of All Coca-Cola Workers’ Unions!

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.

Isang Bigong Taon: A failed one year for Digong – labor groups

Contractualization did not stop; wages remained low and regionalized; the unemployment and underemployment problems continue to weigh down on a large number of Filipino workers. “In sum, it was “Isang B(D)igong Taon” on the labor front for President Duterte’s first year in office,” stated various labor groups in their one year assessment of the President’s performance.

It can be recalled that the President made a campaign pledge that contractualization will stop the moment he becomes the President. He also vowed to raise wages and abolish the system of provincial rates.

“We tried to rate the President’s performance as objective as we can, but the outcomes for labor over his first 365 days have been generally wanting, have given us false expectations and given us many unfulfilled promises,” said the workers groups in a joint statement distributed to media during a demonstration held at the Boy Scout Circle in Timog Quezon City, Friday.

The mass action was organized by the Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (Sentro), Partido Manggagawa (PM), Federation of Free Workers (FFW), National Federation of Labor Unions (Naflu) and the Philippine Airlines Employees Association (Palea). Members of the World March of Women and Ateneo University’s Union of Students for the Advancement of Democracy (USAD) also joined the rally.

No end yet to endo

In a meeting on Labor Day, President Duterte asked labor groups to draft an Executive Order that would use prohibition of all forms of contractualization as a framework. This was after the unanimous rejection of labor groups of Department Order 174 issued by Labor and Employment Sec. Silvestre Bello III sometime in March. He also instructed the labor department to resolve with dispatch the years of dispute between PAL and PALEA on the issue of contractualization.

In response the labor groups submitted a unified draft together with the formal labor sector of the National Anti-Poverty Commission. But almost two months from its submission, the President has done no executive action to address the rampant contractualization.

“We have always advocated for a prohibition of all forms of contractualization and a stop to the abusive operations of manpower agencies and manpower cooperatives. The President himself at his assumption to power and in his first meeting with labor groups early this year openly expressed disgust over these as they ‘abused workers,’ using his words,” said the groups.

According to labor groups, DO 174 continues to permit contractualization and allows manpower agencies and manpower cooperatives to take a cut from workers’ salaries each payday.

There was also no certification issued by the President on pending anti-endo bills filed before the Congress. The PAL-PALEA dispute is not yet resolved.

The only token victory they got on this respect, the groups said, is the planned deputization of trade unionists as labor inspectors, the first batch of which are now undergoing training at the labor department.

Freedom of Association is also one of the areas where the President has a failing mark from the groups as organizing remains extremely difficult particularly in Economic Zones as workers get harassed and get fired for trying to organize unions.

Wages, power, employment, OFW fees, new taxes

With the regional wage setting mechanism still in place, discrimination in terms of wages still persists across the country. The President said he was for a national minimum wage, but such policy pronouncement has not translated even to a working paper from DOLE that they can discuss with workers.

“In the meantime the real value of wages continues to drop, power rates and prices of basic goods and services continue to climb, making it more burdensome for the working class. Meanwhile, the collection of exorbitant placement and other fees for OFW have not been addressed sufficiently if at all,” added the group.

In addition, the planned imposition of excise taxes on oil and the expansion of VAT coverage on goods and services under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN), the group feared, will lead to further erosion of workers purchasing power especially those earning the minimum wage and below.

ILO Convention 151 ratification, the saving grace

The President, however, got a passing mark for being the first chief executive to endorse for Senate concurrence International Labor Convention 151 on Labor Relations in the Public Sector. The treaty, once ratified by the Senate, would guarantee the right to organize of public sector workers and allow them to bargain for better working conditions, among others.

Wrong war

Asked why the President failed to satisfy workers’ clamor for change during the last 365 days, the labor groups said, “It is expected when a leader quickly descends into a wrong war that only resulted to thousands of unsolved killings. While surveys have consistently showed that inflation, wages, and employment remain the top concerns of every Filipino.”