Security of tenure bill remains imperfect—labor coalition

THE country’s largest labor coalition on Thursday called on lawmakers to add more teeth to House Bill (HB) 6908, also known as the security of tenure bill.

In a news statement, the Nagkaisa labor coalition said the new legislation is still imperfect since it still allows some forms of contractual labor.

Nagkaisa, however, threw its support behind the legislation, which it said is already a step toward finally providing better protection to contractual workers.

“The marked improvement in its provisions would surely address to a great deal widespread use of contractual labor in the country and, thus, strengthening workers’ security of tenure and the exercise of their right to organize and collectively bargain compared to the present laws and regulations pertaining to labor contracting,” Nagkaisa said.

On Tuesday the House of Representatives approved on second reading HB 6908. 

Among the salient points of the legislation is its prohibition of subcontracting of jobs already contracted out by principal employers and any form of fixed-term employment.

It will imposes a fine, ranging from P30,000 to P5 million, on labor contractors who will violate its provisions.

Nagkaisa thanked the House Committee on Labor and Employment and the representatives of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) and Akbayan party-lists, and the coauthors of HB 6908 for supporting the bill.  

The group is now urging the Lower House and the Senate to add stiffer penalties for employers who will violate the provisions of HB 6908. 

“We call on the Senate to introduce more prohibitive provisions in their version of bills pertaining to security of tenure, so as to further improve what HB 6908 has achieved,” Nagkaisa said. 

Almost 2 million workers are expected to benefit from HB 6908 once it takes effect.

In a text message, Federation of Free Workers, a member of Nagkaisa, said it will also hold rallies and forums in the coming weeks to gain public support for the bill.

Aside from the legislative measures, members of Nagkaisa are also set to meet with President Duterte next month to discuss the new EO, which is expected to further restrict contractualization in the country.  

“Malacañang said [a] meeting is expected to take place on February 9,” Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III, for his part, said. 

Associated Labor Union-TUCP, another Nagkaisa member, said they will urge the President to finally sign the new EO during the meeting. 

The meeting was originally scheduled in December 2017, but was later reset due to Duterte’s busy schedule that time.

Nagkaisa is a coalition of 40 major labor groups in the country.

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