MANILA - An intensive drive by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) against "endo" or the end-of-contract scheme has resulted in the regularization of almost 50,000 workers during President Duterte’s first year in office.
This is based on data from the Bureau of Working Conditions.
According to the BWC, of the 49,393 workers who became regular employees, over 35,000 were voluntarily regularized by their employers. Labor Undersecretary Dominador Say said this was proof of the business sector's commitment to the government’s campaign against endo.
While the labor department said it was aiming to totally eradicate the practice of endo by the end of 2017, Say admitted that the campaign against endo remains a challenge due to the lack of labor compliance inspectors.
“Sa Department, kulang tayo ng inspectors. That is why hindi pa natin masasabi with 100 percent assurance na totally wala nang endo, even if we have all agreed na wala nang endo,” Say explained.
The labor department however said it is confident that Department Order 174, which was a product of over nine months of consultations between the labor and business sectors, will be able to weed out illegal labor practices such as endo.
DO 174 lists stricter guidelines on contractualization and prohibits 'labor-only contracting' and other illicit forms of contractual arrangements.
It also states that workers deployed by service contractors are entitled to holiday, overtime and 13th month pay, retirement benefits and social security.
The department order also states that a worker’s employment with his service contractor is not co-terminus with his contract with the client’s company.
DO 174 also includes measures against illegal and fly-by-night manpower agencies, by increasing the amount of capital requirement and registration fees of contractors.
Employers admitted that DO 174 was a tough pill to swallow. Despite this, they said that they will abide by the new order.
“Do we welcome it? No, but we see it as a necessity, we must implement it. Otherwise, we will never have stability. Without stability, business will not function," said Donald Dee, president of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines.
While employers are ready to follow the department order, albeit grudgingly, labor groups have overwhelmingly rejected DO 174.
Labor groups insist that it goes against President Duterte’s campaign promise that he will stop all forms of contractualization.
“Ang department order na ito ay hindi tumutugon sa pangangailangan ng mga manggagawa dahil patuloy pa rin ang malawak na kontraktuwalisasyon sa hanay nila,” Partido ng Manggagawa’s Renato Magtubo said.
Workers' groups have accused Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello of insubordination for going against the President’s orders, and of favoring business over ordinary workers.
DOLE meanwhile countered that it could not implement an absolute ban on contractualization as the Labor Code allows for certain forms of contractual labor, including seasonal and project-based employment.
“Yung sinasabi ng ating pangulo na ayaw nya ng endo, ayaw nya ng contractualization… what he was referring to is yung illegal and unlawful contractualization. Kasi alam naman natin na gusto man ng ating pangulo, the problem is there are existing laws which allows certain forms of contractualization,” Bello said in March.
The Philippine Association of Legitimate Service Contractors (PALSCON) also warned if all forms of contractualization are banned, investors and big businesses may pull out of the country, or shift to automation.
“Yung mga companies, yung mga investors na nandito they could just easily pull out, dahil nandyan lang naman ang Thailand, ang Indonesia, ang Vietnam,” Rhoda Caliwara, President of PALSCON explained.
Labor groups now pin their hopes on Congress, where at least two bills calling for the criminalization of contractualization have been filed.
The Nagkaisa Labor Coalition has also submitted to the President a draft executive order calling for the prohibition of contractualization.
“Nandun na kami sa puntong wala nang atrasan, nakakapit na kami sa pangako ni Pangulong Duterte na tutuparin nya ang kanyang pangako nung kampanya at nung Labor Day dialogue at nung iba pang dialogue namin sa kanya," Allan Tanjusay of the Nagkaisa Labor Coalition said.
"Sabi nya sa amin hindi nya tatalikuran ang kanyang pangako na tatanggalin nya ang contractualization dito sa ating bansa,” Tanjusay continued.