Category Archives: Precarious Work

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.

SENTRO vows to continue the struggle against contractualization

Photo by JTMata

Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa joins the global working peoples in their 130th commemoration of International Labor Day. Filipino workers have been commemorating the International Labor Day and the continuing struggles of the working masses since 1903, inextricably tying it to the anti-colonial struggle. Faced as it is by monumental challenges and massive societal roadblocks, SENTRO remains undaunted and steadfast in its commitment towards organizing, fighting and winning on behalf of the working peoples of the Philippines.

In less than a year, President Rodrigo Duterte has seen his popularity and trust ratings erode by 7% and 11% among the working poor. While a number of the population remains unperturbed by this, this development is an indicator that a significant section of our people is beginning to fear for their lives— and perhaps even regretting their complicity to the election of an unrepentant violator of human rights and democratic institutions.

The working people gave Pres. Duterte the benefit of the doubt on his promise to end the oppressive policy of labor contractualization. We hoped that Pres. Duterte will dismantle and replace the much-criticized Department Order No. 18-A. But our hopes were met with grim disillusionment with Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello’s release of Department Order No. 174 last March 19, 2017.

This policy 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.

Truth is, the Duterte regime is only consistent in one thing: it wants to kill, and the freedom to kill who it wants to kill. The spate of extrajudicial killings occurring all over the country—ostensibly sponsored and abetted by the Philippine National Police’s Oplan Tokhang and Oplan Double Barrel—has claimed anywhere between 8,000 to 10,000 lives already. This has worsened the situation of poor women, leaving them in trauma, isolation and greater vulnerability to further abuse such as prostitution. In addition to this,the Philippine Congress reintroduces the death penalty,and was passed by the House of Representatives last March 7, 2017, awaiting advancement in the Philippine Senate—despite the Philippines’ international commitment to treaties not to do so. Another legislative bill intends to lower the minimum age of criminal liability to nine (9) years of age, pushing back the victory in the past of children’s rights groups.

It is probably not without reason that this culture of death has been roundly condemned by the international community. The “War on the Poor,” as it is, has made a mockery of its initial propaganda to rid us of the menace of drug dependence and promote a secure, living society. While the poor is being killed, the drug profiteers like Peter Lim are left scot-free.

As expected, the elites are in no hurry to oppose or even modulate the Duterte regime’s reign of terror and death. Many of these politicians have kowtowed to Malacañang, probably in anticipation of the impending push for charter change, which may see the Philippines parcelled around longstanding political dynasties and the further dismantling of the country’s economic infrastructure through their hard-selling of Federalism.

Once again, it is up to the working people and their labor movement to defend our rights, even as we continue to deepen democracy in the country. It is for this reason that SENTRO, together with its allies amongst the progressive forces, is calling on all freedom-loving Filipinos to stand up and be counted in the fight 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 authoritharianism.” SENTRO believes that workers’ and trade union rights cannot genuinely exist if human and democratic rights are compromised and thrown to the gutter.

We call on the working people to continue the struggle against contractualization and the precariousness of living sustained by the Duterte regime’s neo-liberal policies. 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.

Organize! Fight! Win!

Download FIlipino version of the statement

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!