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FACT-CHECKING SONA NUMBERS

Labor group says only 200K workers regularized

A moderate labor group has described as “grossly exaggerated” President Rodrigo Duterte’s claim that the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) had already regularized almost a third of a million contractual workers across the country since 2016.

In his State of the Nation Address (Sona) last Monday, the President said that more than 300,000 workers had been regularized nationwide by business establishments since he took office.

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The actual number is close to 202,000, according to the Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP).

“The ‘more than 300,000 regularized ‘endo’ workers’ claim by the Department of Labor and Employment as its accomplishment since 2016 is grossly exaggerated,” the group said.

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Endo, or end of contract, refers to a contractualization scheme that allows businesses to offer short-term and unprotected temporary work arrangements for workers.

This circumvents workers’ right to at least a minimum wage, security of tenure, self-organization and collective bargaining, and peaceful concerted activities.

Voluntarily regularized

The President, who was elected on a platform that included ending contractualization, said the pace of regularization of contractual workers was still noteworthy.

Based on the records obtained by ALU-TUCP, however, some 202,000 contractual employees have been voluntarily regularized nationwide.

Alan Tanjusay, the group’s spokesperson, said data from the Dole showed that the additional 119,000 cited in Mr. Duterte’s speech were in fact contractual employees who have yet to be regularized since their employers were still contesting the government order.

Questionable

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“Even the 220,000 alleged regularized endo workers are still questionable because [the number] has to be verified if they were ‘regular’ to the middlemen manpower agencies or to the principal employer and principal business owner that utilize their services,” Tanjusay said.

“We urge the Dole to rectify the matter and make the necessary, accurate and honest clarification to the people,” Tanjusay said.

Bello cites data source

The labor group said that Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III may have “misinformed” the President by bloating the number of regularized employees.

But Bello, in a radio interview, denied the allegation and said his data was provided by principal employers, not by manpower agencies.

“The President might hit me if I feed him wrong information,” he said in jest.

The labor chief added that the number of regularized workers was still “small,” considering that there were about 900,0000 business establishments across the country.

On Labor Day last May 1, Mr. Duterte signed Executive Order No. 51, which prohibits illegal labor contracting but allows some forms of contractualization.

The EO dismayed labor groups.

‘Outdated’ Labor Code

The President acknowledged that a more comprehensive action on contractualization had to be done by revisiting the Labor Code, which he described as “outdated.”

The EO also provides that the labor secretary may declare specific activities that can be contracted out in consultation with the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council.

“I remain firm in my commitment to put an end to endo and illegal contractualization,” the President had said.

He added that in order to implement an effective and lasting solution to the problems brought about by contractualization, Congress needed “to enact a law amending the Labor Code.”

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TAGS: Alan Tanjusay, ALU-TUCP, contractualization, DOLE, end of contract, labor-only contracting, Silvestre Bello III, Sona, SONA 2018
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