Meet Miguel: Grappling with PH’s contractualization conundrum

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

It's a never-ending cycle for Carlos Miguel Francisco, who always finds himself looking for a new job every five months.

Francisco, a 23-year-old native of Camarines Norte, went to Manila in 2011 at the age of 18 to study electrical engineering at a state university.

However, he was unable to finish his course and wound up working at a speakers store under a 5-month contract in 2013.

When his contract ended, he found a job as a bagger at a large supermarket chain, again under a 5-month contract.

Francisco went through the same experience when he found jobs as a promodizer at an appliances store and a canteen server, the contract of which ended last month.

He said he loses focus at work every time his contract nears its end, giving himself and his family a lack of sense of security.

With two children to raise, he is now desperate to find a new job. He currently lives with his partner’s family. Since he is jobless yet again, his partner’s parents shoulder the daily needs of his children.

Sometimes he borrows money from friends and relatives while searching for a new job.

Francisco's story is not unique. In fact, there are thousands of Filipinos who share the same ordeal.

They are part of the labor force who has to deal with “endo”, short for “end of contract”, a common practice among employers wanting to avoid the requirement of the law that employees must be regularized after six months of work.

Created by Presidential Decree No.442 in 1974, the Labor Code of the Philippines does not condone labor contractualization, but the law has some loopholes that gave birth to contractualization.

Employers use this loophole to fire employees before their regularization--some are fired and re-hired, some have to look for a new company to take them in.

Statistics show that a total of 2.73 million people or 6.6 percent in the labor force are unemployed while 2 in every 10 employed Filipinos are underemployed.

Based on 2014 Integrated Survey on Labor and Employment of the Philippine Statistics Authority on companies employing 20 or more workers, 39 percent or 1.96 million of the total 5.06 million workers are non-regulars.

In 2014, the construction industry in 2014 recorded the highest share of non-regular workers, having six non-regulars in every 10 workers. It is followed by agriculture, forestry and fishing industry, mining and quarrying industry; and the accommodation and food service activities industry; with each having five non-regulars in every 10 workers.

Contractualization is considered a populist measure, as employers contend that ending the practice will bring dire consequences to the fiscal health of enterprises.

---With reports from Investigative and Research Team

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