Groups back House measure on labor-employment security

THE country’s largest labor coalition defended on Tuesday House Bill (HB) 6908 on the Security of Tenure (SOT) of workers, amid opposition from the business sector who branded the proposed measure as “anti-employer.”

In a news statement, the labor group Nagkaisa said law-abiding employers with contractual workers have nothing to fear once HB 6908 is implemented since it will only sanction those who practice labor-only contracting and other forms of illegal contractualization.

“The fear that the HB [6908] can lead to unemployment is only possible if they are not paying their contractual employees [on] what the law currently demands,” Nagkaisa said.

Nagkaisa maintained that the passage of HB 6908 will be beneficial for the country’s economy.

“Workers with regular employment generate more income, thus, with more purchasing power contribute to increasing demand in goods and services that lead to higher income taxes and VAT [value-added tax] for the government. These are all good for the economy,” Nagkaisa said.

The labor group’s statement came after the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (Ecop) expressed its opposition against HB 6908, saying the bill be “detrimental to the economy and job creation.”

Ecop did not specify which provision of HB 6908 it is opposed to.

Nagkaisa slammed the statement, which, the group said, is tantamount to supporting illegal contractualization.

“The fear that the HB can lead to unemployment is only possible if they are not paying their contractual employees what the law currently demands. In other words, their argument is an admission that they are doing business at the expense of workers’ rights—and they want to continue doing so,” Nagkaisa said.

Among the salient points of HB 6908 is its ban on the practice of subcontracting of jobs and fixed-term employment, as well as imposing a fine ranging from P30,000 to P5 million for labor contractors, who will violate its provisions.

Labor Undersecretary Joel B. Maglunsod told BusinessMirror in an interview that except for the provisions of HB 6908 on fines, revised parameters  and stricter licensing requirements, the bill is almost identical to the existing regulations of labor department on contractualization.

“This [HB 6908] just defined the parameters. Its general rule is regular employment except those who are probationary, seasonal and project-based,” Maglunsod said.

“In case it is passed into law, it will just complement our existing regulations,” the labor official added.

HB 6908 was finally passed on third and final hearing at the House of Representatives on Monday.

Nagkaisa is now appealing to the Senate to also fast-track the approval of the bill.

“This is the farthest a proposed law on SOT has gone for decades. Now, it’s time to get the Senate moving on their proposed SOT measure,” Nagkaisa said.

In a separate statement, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), one of the members of Nagkaisa, said they are hoping President Duterte will sign their proposed Executive Order (EO) on contractualization next week to boost the chances of HB 6908 being passed in the Senate.

“If the EO is signed soon, it will send a strong signal to Congress on how the administration stand on contractualization. It will affect both the House and Senate deliberations given the supermajority of the administration in Congress,” TUCP President Raymond C. Mendoza said.

Labor representatives, including members of Nagkaisa, are scheduled to meet with Duterte on February 9 to discuss labor-related issues, including their proposed EO, which is also being endorsed by the Department of Labor and Employment.

 

 

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