Labor groups expressed opposition to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and employers’ sector’s proposal for a ‘win-win structure’ to address President Rodrigo Duterte’s marching order to end contractualization.

In a dialogue between representatives from the labor sector and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on October 3, Secretary Silvestre Bello III presented the proposal to labor leaders who attended the dialogue. Bello, however, clarified that it was not DOLE’s proposal.

The ‘win-win structure’ propose that workers are hired by service providers through the following arrangements: (1) hired as regulars with full benefits such us leave credits, 13th month pay, SSS, Philhealth, etc.; (2) workers get deployed or re-deployed when needed; (4) companies will have the flexibility to hire workers as regular or outsource due to seasonality or specific functions; and, (5) there should be strict compliance of service providers in giving full benefits to the workers.

“Lose-lose situation”

In Kilusang Mayo Uno’s (KMU) position paper delivered by its Chairperson, Elmer “Bong” Labog, it said that the so-called ‘win-win’ solution to contractualization is in fact a ‘lose-lose’ or a no-win situation for workers.

KMU's Bong Labog present their position paper during DOLE's labor sector dialogue last October 3, 2016. (Manila Today Photo)
KMU’s Bong Labog present their position paper during DOLE’s labor sector dialogue last October 3, 2016. (Manila Today Photo)

The position paper further stated that “regularization through labor contractors further weakens workers’ security of tenure as it ceases any employer-employee relationship between workers and the principal employer.”

According to KMU, this kind of scheme is in direct opposition to workers’ demand that principal employers should have full responsibility for its workers, i.e. providing mandatory benefits like leave, health, social security, housing and additional pay for overtime and holiday work.

“We are dismayed that despite the Duterte’s positive pronouncement and marching order to end contractualization and standardize provincial rates of wage, this is not what the DOLE is doing,” said KMU Secretary General Jerome Adonis.

Agencies’ bad record?

“Tinututulan namin ang win-win structure na ito, walang pabor sa manggagawa, puro sa mga negosyante lang [We oppose this win-win structure, nothing is in favor of the workers, only for the businessmen],” said Roldan Jao Clumia, President of St. Luke’s Medical Center Employees Association.

Clumia explained that contractor agencies have been known to conspire with some DOLE officials to avoid penalization for violations.

The union leader shared that in St. Luke’s Hospital in Quezon City, they experienced contractual workers from agencies being pulled-out from work when DOLE inspects the contractor agency.

There are still around 500 nurses and other workers from maintenance, dietary and housekeeping in St. Luke’s Hospital Quezon City that are still contractual where some have worked for 15 years.

“No no one has been regularized from the 500 contractual workers in our hospital since the Duterte administration started,” said Clumia.

Truly addressing contractualization

In July, DOLE released Department Order (DO) No. 162 suspending registration of new applicants as contractors or sub-contractors.

KMU said that DO 162 “falls short to be significant in curbing contractualization and even strengthens the monopoly of big capitalists in the employment agency business.”

All Workers Unity Spokesperson Anne Villasica presents their network's position paper during the labor sector dialogue at DOLE last October 3, 2016. (Manila Today photo)
All Workers Unity Spokesperson Anne Villasica presents their network’s position paper during the labor sector dialogue at DOLE last October 3, 2016. (Manila Today photo)

All Workers Unity, a network of private and government workers, represented by its spokesperson Anne Villasica proposed that “a concrete step that will work towards ending contractualization is a new department order that will prohibit all forms of contracting out of labor, and will repeal DO-18 as the current guidelines for employment.”

She said that the new DO should prohibit both job contracting and labor only contracting.

KMU proposed that an Executive Order should be drafted “that would immediately regularize all workers employed in various contractual employment schemes, especially long-standing ones, in accordance with the Article 280 of the Labor Code pertaining to immediate regularization of contractuals.”

The labor center also proposed that business owners, especially the big foreign and local businesses, should be heavily penalized for implementing contractualization.

Atty. Rey Gregorio, a labor lawyer of 10 years from Negros Island who was present at the dialogue, said that what the President can do to immediately address contractualization is to certify as urgent the anti-contractualization bill filed in Congress.

“The Articles 106 to 109 of the Labor Code should be repealed to remove the basis of contractualization including DOLE DO 18-A,” said Atty. Gregorio.

The Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives have filed House Bill 556, An Act Prohibiting the Practice of Labor Contractualization and Promoting Regular Employment. The bill seeks to repeal and amend some of the the Labor Code’s provisions that legalize contractualization.

HB00556 – Prohibition of Contractualization by Manila Today on Scribd

DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III presents DTI and employers' 'win-win' proposal on contractualization. (Manila Today Photo)
DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III presents DTI and employers’ ‘win-win’ proposal on contractualization. (Manila Today Photo)

However, Bello assured the labor leaders that the president’s position on contractualization is very clear.

“He wants to end endo and contractualization except where it is allowed in the constitution, it is our marching order,” Bello said.

Duterte first 100 days

Bello reported that around 10,000 workers have been regularized 100 days into Duterte’s term.

“Malala pa rin yung kontraktuwalisasyon. Habang busy yung mga employer at management sa paggawa ng kung anu-anong iskema para palabasing regular ang mga kontraktuwal [Contractualization is still rampant. While the employers and management are busy trying to cme up with schemes where they could pretend that contractual workers are regular]“ said Gerry Serue, Secretary General of KMU Metro Manila.

KMU Metro Manila would be joining the people’s rally on the first 100 days of President Duterte on October 7. Workers under KMU would meet in DOLE to demand the agency to speed up ending of contractualization, as the policy remain as rampant as ever as the new administration crosses 100 days in office.

Workers would then join other sectors in reporting their plight and struggles that they wanted the new president to address. The march would start at 1pm in Bonifacio Shrine going to Mendiola.