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‘TAKEN FOR A RIDE’

Labor groups unhappy with executive order on contractualization

The KMU joined the protest as they call to end imperialism in the country. FAYE ORELLANA / INQUIRER.net

Labor groups were unhappy with an executive order (EO) on contractualization that President Rodrigo Duterte signed on Tuesday, saying they were “taken for a ride.”

A labor coalition, Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa, said the EO merely reiterated the current regulatory policy that has failed to prevent the spread of contractualization, an arrangement that offers workers no security of tenure.

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“Once again, Mr. Duterte showed who’s side he is on—with the employers. President Duterte’s EO is useless,” Sentro secretary general Josua Mata said in a statement.

Rene Magtubo, Nagkaisa Labor Coalition spokesperson, said the EO was an insult to workers.

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“We drafted five [proposals] and yet we were not granted with even a single honest-to-goodness discussion,” Magtubo said. “This just proves that he is not a champion [of] workers.”

He said the order did little to limit labor contracting.

What the labor groups wanted, he said, was for the government to have a policy making direct hiring the norm, and labor contracting an exception.

Bong Labog, chair of Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), said he was saddened that the workers had been taken for a ride.

Already in Labor Code

Labog said the Duterte administration should expect more protests from the labor sector because the President had failed to deliver on his campaign promise to end “endo,” or end of contract, a short-term working arrangement that offers no security of tenure.

In Davao City, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said the EO had no use.

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“The prohibition on labor-only contracting is already in the Labor Code,” Zarate told the Inquirer by text message.

He said what was needed was a policy that would prohibit all forms of contracting.

“The EO signed by the President was only aimed at appeasing angry workers because he had failed to fulfill his promise to end endo and contractualization,” Zarate added.

‘False hopes’

Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao said employers would still be able to circumvent the EO.

“He made workers believe that he would fight for our cause. But he fooled us. Just like in any relationship, it’s more painful when someone gives you false hopes,” Casilao said.

Ferdinand Gaite, national president of Confederation for Unity, Advancement and Recognition of Government Employees (Courage), said Mr. Duterte’s stand was similar to that of capitalists.

“They’re making it appear that there are legal and illegal forms of contractualization. For us, there’s none,” Gaite said.

Help Congress

The Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) said that while the group did not agree with the EO version signed by the President, it understood his position.

“The President sent a strong political message to Congress to hurry up and start discussing the security of tenure bill,” said Alan Tanjusay, ALU-TUCP spokesperson.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the President wanted the help of Congress to ensure that the practice of labor-only contracting would be stopped.

He scored labor groups critical of the EO. “I am amused at our labor groups, they are so angry. They reject this executive order even if they haven’t read it,” Roque said in a TV interview.

Labor dep’t version

Roque said the directive that the President signed was the version of the Department of Labor and Employment in its consultations with stakeholders, including labor groups and employers.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III lauded the President “for fulfilling his commitment to the Filipino workingmen.”

“The signing by President Duterte of the EO spells clearly the policy of his government to fully end illegal contracting and subcontracting practices,” Bello said in a statement.

Covenant

Amid the Labor Day protests against contractualization and poor working conditions, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said there should be no room for exploitation between employers and workers.

“Genuine working conditions are fostered not simply by transactions but by a covenant relationship between partners who respect and protect everyone’s dignity,” Cardinal Tagle said in his Labor Day message. —Reports from Jovic Yee, Aie Balagtas See, Tina G. Santos, Christine O. Avendaño and Julie M. Aurelio In Manila; Allan Nawal, Divina Suson, Jigger Jerusalem and Erwin Mascariñas from Inquirer Mindanao

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TAGS: contractualization, endo, executive order, Labor groups, Rodrigo Duterte
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