Category Archives: Security of Tenure SOT

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.”

SENTRO calls on Working People to Sustain the Call to End Contractualization, Stop Authoritarian Policies

Photo by RBanares

MANILA, Philippines (May 1, 2017) – The national labor center Sentro ng Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (Center for United and Progressive Workers), or SENTRO, calls on the working people to continue the struggle against contractualization and the precariousness of living, “sustained by the Duterte’s regime biased for the elite.”

In a rally this morning in conjunction with the 130thglobal Labor Day commemoration, the 100,000-strong SENTRO criticized the “fake news” that contractualization is over. According to SENTRO Secretary General Josua Mata, “We gave Pres. Duterte the benefit of the doubt on his promise to end the oppressive policy of labor contractualization, in hoping that Pres. Duterte will dismantle and replace the much-criticized Department Order No. 18-A.” He said their hopes were met with grim disillusionment with Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello’s release of DO No. 174 last March 19, 2017.

Mata stated that DO 174 will perpetuate contractualization by: a) allowing businesses to hire workers through agencies; b) allowing cooperatives to engage in labor contracting and subcontracting; c) no longer requiring the principal employer to provide unions a copy of the service contract; and d) allowing contracting agencies to further downplay the price of labor costs—guaranteeing even lower salaries and benefits for workers across industries. “Clearly, DO 174 widely differs from what Pres. Duterte has promised,” said Mata.

SENTRO assailed the President from being only true to its promise to kill, and to bury the late dictator Marcos at the Heroes Cemetery. In a statement, SENTRO noted that in almost 365 days in Malacañang, the President’s hands are bloodied in calling on the police, and later jobless migrant workers to kill drug users. However, it failed to deliver genuine resolution of the drug problem as it allows the escape of drug traffickers like Peter Lim.

SENTRO marched from Welcome Rotonda and converged with the 10,000 marchers of NAGKAISA Coalition to push Pres. Duterte to prioritize the prohibition of all forms of contractualization by supplanting DO 174 with an Executive Order and by certifying as urgent the passage of HB4444.

Allies from human rights groups such as iDEFEND, the World March of Women, and students marched with the workers to call on all “freedom-loving Filipinos to stand up and be counted in the fight for regular and sustainable jobs, to stop the killings, block Duterte’s Death Policies – the reimposition of the death penalty and the lowering of the age of criminality – and to resist moves to amend the constitution to institute “constitutional authoritarianism.” The march followed a coffin with a chick on top, a derivation from a Filipino custom, hoping that the deaths will stop immediately.

“Let us assert our basic right to a dignified and genuinely safe society—not the selective security of the privileged that preys on the massacre of the poor,” added Mata.

Rules Allowing Agency Hiring Rejected Anew by Workers Groups

The anticipated new Department Order (D.O.) on endo is finally out for issuance today. But rejection can only be the immediate response of organized labor for the kind of rules that speak about prohibiting contractualization but ends up allowing agency hiring in many forms.

The Labor Secretary has ignored the overwhelming demand of trade unions and workers’ associations to prohibit contractualization since the previous administrations and which the groups continue to articulate in all official consultative processes called for by the DOLE and national tripartite conferences from the beginning of the Duterte Administration.

The President then was very clear: “Ayoko sa agency agency, wala na dapat itong agency agency,” declared the President during the labor dialogue last February 27. The labor movement, likewise, was very insistent: The current policy is a failure, thus, the government must now shift to prohibition.

Workers were demanding prohibition on contractualization based on the following grounds:

The current policy of “allow then regulate” has failed the workers and this nation. A country of endos is a nation of poor, violated, and voiceless people.

It is immoral as it allows employers to save on labor cost and avoid having direct responsibility to their workers while their middlemen (agencies and cooperatives) earn profit from the same exploitative trading transaction.

It is anti-labor because it violates all the fundamental rights of labor.

It is anti-development as it exacerbates poverty and deepens inequality in our country.

By ensuring continuity and stability of agency hiring, the new D.O. will never put an end but rather perpetuate the epidemic of contractualization.

1. It prohibits labor-only-contracting (LOC) and the cabo system which is already prohibited by law anyway;

2. While it prohibits the contractualization of jobs directly related to main business and subject to control of principal, interpretation disputes shall mean expensive an wearisome litigations in DOLE, NLRC and the courts;

3. Only in-house agencies and labor cooperatives are not allowed to operate. Independent contractors are permitted;

4. The DO opens floodgates to agencies to set up shops. This will enhance cutthroat competition among contractors bidding down salaries and benefits of their employees;

5. The more contractuals the country will have, the harder to monitor and regulate. DOLE’s inspection capacity is a chronic problem that also has to be addressed.

It is still a sad day for workers. But the struggle continues. It’s time for a full court press and nationwide actions. We thus demand that Pres. Duterte issue an Executive Order in place of this bad order and certify as an urgent measure HB4444 that seeks the prohibition of contractualization and the criminalization of such offense

PRESS STATEMENT
NAGKAISA
17 March 2017
Contact: Ka Rene Magtubo, Spokesperson
09178532905

DOLE must enforce ‘prohibit order’ on contractualization

President Rodrigo Duterte’s marching orders are clear: Stop contractualization! No agency hiring!

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III received these marching orders from the President during the labor dialogue last Monday.  He was instructed to work on a new draft Department Order and to address the related plea of PALEA on outsourcing.

“As the alter ego of the President, Sec. Bello is hard pressed to comply with the order and to abide with the demand of workers without further delay,” said Nagkaisa chairman, Michael Mendoza.

Through a symbolic pressing of time button, the group declared a 30-day countdown for DOLE to come up with new rules prohibiting contractualization.

Junk win-win

The group noted that the latest draft of the issuance, distributed in January, still reflects the DTI and employers formula of legitimizing manpower agencies and regulating their practices.

“In the light of the President’s latest instructions, Sec. Bello should junk its draft and adopt Nagkaisa’s proposed DO, which seeks prohibition of contractualization, as the new working draft,” added Mendoza

On orders of the President, Sec. Bello is to convene the Tripartite Industrial Peace Council (TIPC) to discuss the new draft order. The TIPC, composed of workers and employers representatives serves as the clearinghouse of all labor polices, with the power to endorse proposed issuances to the DOLE Secretary.

“Should there be another deadlock at this level, we will expect the Secretary to decide along the line of prohibition agreed upon at the Palace,” stressed Mendoza.

The coalition is likewise hopeful that HB4444 authored by Rep, Raymond Mendoza of the TUCP Partylist, which seeks total prohibition and criminalization of contractualization offenses, will gain ground in Congress once certified by the President.

Once contractualization is finally prohibited, the rights of workers to security of tenure, to unionize and bargain collectively will be restored.

However, Mendoza called on workers to continue working together and be vigilant as the enemies of the working class will surely find ways to prevent workers from achieving total victory against contractualization and other forms of exploitation.

Women march against endo

Women make up more than half of contractual workers. Hence, led the Women’s Committee of Nagkaisa, women workers will continue to exert pressure on the DOLE to stop contractualization.

On March 6, two days before International Women’s Day, women workers will march from Plaza Salamanca to the DOLE offices in Intramuros. Among their calls are, “Sa multiple burden ko, dagdag pa ang endo”, “Sa regular jobs, may forever,” and “Endo itigil na, now na!”

Rights for public sector workers

While calling for a stop to contractualization in civil service, public sector unions has also secured a commitment from the President to ratify ILO Convention 151.

According to Annie Geron of the Public Services Independent Labor Confederation (PSLINK) which is affiliated with Public Services International (PSI), Convention 151 is an international labor standard that recognizes the rights of public sector workers to freedom of association and collective bargaining.

NAGKAISA denounces misrepresentation of Ruben Torres and Usec Say on worker-DOLE consensus that contractualization cannot be prohibited

File photo

NAGKAISA, including the legitimate TUCP President Raymond Mendoza, a co-convenor of NAGKAISA and the author of HB No.4444 which will prohibit and criminalize contractualization, denounce in clear, categorical terms the underhanded attempt of Mr. Ruben Torres and apparently, DOLE Undersecretary Say, to misrepresent to media after the dialogue with Secretary Bello last Thursday, that a consensus was reached with labor leaders that contractualization is inevitable.

That is the very opposite of what legitimate labor federations under NAGKAISA, who constituted 90% of the groups meeting Sec. Bello last Thursday manifested jointly to the Secretary: That we rely on the Presidential promise to end contractualization, and that we look towards an Executive Order to proscribe it in the meantime and towards passage of a Presidentially-certified bill (in the guise of HB No.4444) which will end contractualization).

NAGKAISA is shocked and dismayed that news reports of the Worker-DOLE dialogue on how to end and prohibit contractualization are now being presented as a trade union-government lovefest where both sides reached the same conclusion: that contractualization is here to stay.

Their action constitutes the highest form of betrayal to workers who only want a fair deal. Ruben Torres’ acceptance of the continuation of contractualization for janitors, security guards and salesgirls is craven opportunism of the worst kind, sacrificing the lives of the poorest workers while invoking the name of trade unions for personal advancement. He clearly does not represent the true majority interest of labor.

Our true collective position remains firm: that contractualization is oppression of workers’ rights which allows employers to avoid giving workers a living wage and to deny them a decent life. This is the very reason that we requested that Sec. Bello work out our request for an audience with the President.

Furthermore, the seemingly coordinated statements of former Labor Secretary Ruben Torres, now resurrected and posing as a labor leader of a rump-group TUCP ( the DOLE itself has ruled with finality that his purported federation is not even a part of TUCP, and by that very logic Mr. Torres IS NOT EVEN A MEMBER of TUCP) and apparent partnering of DOLE Undersecretary Say, show the moral depravity that the enemies of workers will stoop to.

We will not allow this underhanded misrepresentation of our position to remain uncorrected. Mr. Torres and his co-horts the Eric Gutierrez-backed Roland de la Cruz , last seen, after their gleeful endorsement of the Presidential bid of Mar Roxas, are now trying to make themselves relevant as apologists of the unbridled free-market, labor-flexibilization schemes which the employers prefer as their justification to abuse the Filipino working class.

Mr. Torres is no way a part of the legitimate TUCP, nor of the larger workers movement. Media coverage would have it appear through their interviews that the meeting last Thursday at the DOLE between workers and top DOLE officials led by Secretary Bello was a veritable lovefest. What happened was the DOLE announced that they would have to go to the drawing board to do a new Department Order on contractualization NAGKAISA only reminded the DOLE that what they will craft, and the bill which we should ask be certified, live up to President Duterte’s promise: END IT! STOP IT!