Big workers’ groups press for end to contractualization, wage increase

Nagkaisa! Labor Coalition and Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU)–the largest labor groups in the country, convened on the eve of Labor Day to reiterate calls for an end to contractualization and push for the enactment of a Security of Tenure Law, while calling for increase in wages nationwide.

“We have long and consistently called for a just end to pervasive contractualization of labor, yet the practice of labor-only contracting, job-only contracting and other forms of flexible labor remain prevalent among the working people,” said Elmer Labog, chairperson of KMU.

Congress has nine more session days after the elections. Newly-elected legislators won’t begin their terms until after June 30. “The labor movement will defend workers’ rights to the last. With enough political will, President Rodrigo Duterte and his allies in the Senate can still have a Security of Tenure Law enacted during this Congress,” said Atty. Sonny Matula, chairperson of Nagkaisa.

Nagkaisa and KMU were together at the Senate in early February during the last few session days prior to the recess of Congress as they mounted pressure on the Senate to pass the Security of Tenure Bill.

“This will definitely continue the pressure on the Senate, especially its reelectionist senators to openly declare either their support or opposition to the proposed End Endo Law,” Matula said.

Ending contractualization is one of the biggest promises of President Rodrigo Duterte. Many believe it was one of the issues that catapulted him to the presidency among the working people in the public and private sectors.

“Two issuances under President Duterte’s watch—DOLE Department Order 174 in 2017 and Executive Order 51 on Labor Day last year—failed to solve, and perhaps worsened contractualization,” Labog said. Duterte then certified as urgent the SOT Bill. The Senate has not passed a Security of Tenure Bill despite also getting the commitment of Senate President Tito Sotto.

The Filipino workers unity will thrive and translate into votes and campaigns against contractualization and opponents of workers’ rights and benefits in the present and next Congress. “Filipino workers are proposing to clamp down on labor-only contractors by having a new law declaring labor-only contracting illegal, irrespective of a manpower agency’s capitalization or investment in equipment, and imposing heftier fines on erring employers and manpower agencies, way beyond the mere P1,000.00 that present laws provide,” Matula said.

“This is unacceptable. We cannot legitimize labor-only contractors, who do nothing but recruit and deploy workers, yet maintain supervision over contractual workers on paper. They connive with principal business owners to deprive workers of security of tenure and other basic labor rights, while avoiding legal and financial obligations,” Labog said.

House Bill 6908 on Security of Tenure was passed early this 17th Congress. Its counterpart measure, Senate Bill 1826 has yet to be passed on second reading. “The passage of the Bill is the necessary first step in changing the law towards prohibiting contractualization. While it may not result in the total ban on contractualization, we find it critical to put a stop to conditions that promote precarious work,” Matula said.

“Failure to enact a law that will end contractualization will be on the hands of the Senate. It will go down as ‘a legacy of failure’ and one of the greatest unfulfilled promises of President Rodrigo Duterte,” Labog said. The groups also said that government as an employer should walk the talk.

The nationwide unity of workers also calls for an increase in wages, especially the fulfillment of a national minimum wage, a stop to all attacks against workers and the full recognition of workers’ rights, especially the right to organize.

“A significant wage hike is long overdue. The sharp increase in inflation and cost of living has already eroded the value of existing wages. We call for an immediate wage increase, and a national minimum wage for all workers in the country,” Labog said.

Labor groups Kilos na Manggagawa, Metal Workers Alliance of the Philippines (MWAP) and BPO Industry Employees Network (BIEN) already filed wage hike petitions before the NCR Regional Wage Board last week. TUCP filed a wage hike petition yesterday.

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