AS government patted its back on accomplishing regularization of 471,394 contractual workers, labor groups slammed employers for pushing for the outright veto of the pending Security of Tenure (SOT) bill.
Labor Assistant Secretary Benjo Santos M. Benavidez told the BusinessMirror the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) was already able, as of July, to facilitate the regularization of nearly half-a-million contractual workers.
Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III considers this as a result of the government’s campaign.
“The regularization of almost 500,000 contractuals is a big thing,” Bello said. “It is unprecedented.”
The labor chief said these figures could still rise especially if President Duterte will opt to sign the pending SOT bill, which imposes additional restriction for contractual work arrangements.
“I am sure and quite positive we will get a positive reaction from the President. After all, this is certified [SOT] bill,” Bello said.
HOWEVER, labor groups slammed employers for pushing for the outright veto of the SOT bill based on a wrong assumption.
Last week, local and foreign business groups submitted a letter to Duterte to appeal to him to junk the SOT bill, claiming it was already redundant with the provisions of Executive Order (EO) 51 and the DOLE Order 174.
Labor coalition Nagkaisa chairman and Federation of Free Workers (FFW) President Jose Matula called the assessment “unrealistic,” citing the thousands of workers who fall prey to arbitrary contractualization.
“With due respect the business leaders claiming that the old rules is enough to solve Endo, it appears they are out of touch of reality with the situation of millions of workers,” Matula told the BusinessMirror.
Endo is the acronym for “end of contract,” an illegal form of contractualization wherein workers are repetitively hired and rehired by their employers for the purpose of circumventing their right to be regularized.
Last May, the DOLE reported it was able to facilitate the regularization of around 400,000 workers since 2016 from 3,377 firms, which were found or suspected of engaging in illegal forms of contractualization.
Many of the said employers claimed they were not aware that some of their positions cannot be legally contracted out since they are part of the company’s “core” business.
The process of determining if a position is “core or non-core” has been the subject of numerous labor disputes due to contradicting interpretations from management and labor unions.
Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) Spokesman Alan Tanjusay said the passage of the SOT bill will aid in ending this contentious issue.
He said it is this mutually beneficial nature of the SOT bill that makes them confident that Duterte will back the legislation.
“The SOT bill, when approved into law, as it is, will identify the jobs that can be contracted out and what are those that can only be regularized,” Tanjusay said. “This will help employers to plan better and cope with demands of the modern times.”
Matula explained the process of this determination will be done through the Industry Tripartite Council, which has representatives from both employers and labor groups.
Bello earlier said the bill was already transmitted to Malacañang last June 21 for Duterte’s consideration.
But even without the SOT bill, Bello said Duterte’s accomplishment on contractualization policy is already unparalleled, which is why he endorsed this achievement together with the soon-to-be constructed overseas Filipino workers (OFW) Hospital in Pampanga to become part of the President’s upcoming State of the Nation Address (Sona) later this month.
The construction of the first- ever OFW-dedicated hospital in the country, Bello said, is expected to start by July 15.
Malacañang said Duterte’s Sona this year will focus more on the administration’s poverty alleviation programs to show the government’s malasakit or concern to Filipinos.