Tag Archives: NAGKAISA Labor Coalition

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

Trade Union Statement on the 8th ASEAN Regional Tripartite Social Dialogue Conference in Manila, 18-19 October 2017

PSI photo

Trade unions across the ASEAN expressed great disappointment over ASEAN governments who refused to commit to advance workers’ rights in the sub-region.

Ironically, governments refused to heed the workers’ calls during the 8th ASEAN Tripartite Social Dialogue Conference—a forum dedicated to deepen understanding and relations between and among social partners—government, employers and workers.

At the two-day Conference, panel sessions delved on effective social dialogue mechanisms, many examples of which featured good practices of the Philippines.

On the final day of the conference, social dialogue in practice was put to a test. The final plenary session was held to come up with the conference conclusions and recommendations.

In separate interventions, workers’ delegates asked that the conference document reflect the calls to ratify ILO Convention 144 on tripartism; Convention 151 on labor relations in the public sector; and core labor standards covering freedom of association and free collective bargaining; an end to forced labor; elimination of child labor; and an end to discrimination at work.

Ratifying ILO Convention 144 is important as it provides the framework for tripartism and social dialogue in ASEAN member countries. The conference did not explicitly define tripartism and provide a framework for social dialogue. ILO Convention 151 was the subject of a panel discussion where the resource persons openly called for its ratification. Meanwhile, core labor standards was a recurring theme, especially with the acknowledged decline in trade union density across ASEAN.

In the course of the dialogue, workers revised their position several times with the hope of convincing governments and employers to soften their position. Workers offered to change the language to “work towards ratification of the ILO Conventions” instead of the direct call for ratification of ASEAN member states to indicate commitment. They still objected without explaining their position. Workers then moved to just “recognize that trade unions are calling for the ratification” of the said standards. But governments led by Indonesia, Malaysia and Myanmar and employers maintained their stubborn stance.

After the discussion on the conference statement, trade unions affiliated to Building and Wood Workers International (BWI) and Public Services International (PSI) along with NAGKAISA Labor Coalition expressed their strong objection to the final Conference Joint Statement for not living up to the spirit of tripartism and social dialogue.

20 October 2017

Signed by ASEAN affiliates of:
· Building and Wood Workers International (BWI)
· Public Services International (PSI);

and, members of:
· NAGKAISA Labor Coalition, Philippines