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Saturday, February 28, 2015

CONTRACTUALIZATION IS ILLEGAL

GABRIELA Women’s Party (GWP) representatives have on file House Bill No. 4396, titled “An Act Prohibiting Labor-only Contracting and Regulating Job Contracting and Sub-contracting.” For a quarter of a century now, the real value of workers’ wages has decreased, contractualization is more rampant, and strikes cause threat of repression. Contractualization constitutes a comprehensive attack on workers’ rights. This Gabriela bill is to put a stop to the pernicious practice of labor contractualization that has been keeping wages low and denying workplace benefits from long-suffering workers. The bill seeks to stop contractual employment by rendering the contractor a redundant agent. Banning Contractualization will dignify rank’n’file labor while strengthening the relationship between the principal employer and employee.

Called “Herrera Law” after its main sponsor, former Senator Ernesto Herrera, a long-time secretary-general of the pro-capitalist Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, TUCP. Former Sen. Herrera has currently endorsed this bill filed by the two Gabriela Women’s Party solons, Luz Ilagan and Emmi de Jesus to rectify the illegality of Contractualization. The HB 4396, a revised version of an earlier bill authored by former Bayan Muna Reps. Liza Maza, Crispin Beltran, and Satur Ocampo) seeks to end labor contractualization by re-amending the Labor Code. Among the bill’s provisions are those that would prevent employers from terminating any worker except for just cause, setting probationary employment at six-month duration, after which period the worker becomes a regular employee, and prescribing penalties for violations.

Ills of Contractualization: (1) helped press down workers’ wages by banning workers’ strikes over capitalists’ non-compliance with the minimum wage, (2) legalized contractualization by giving the Labor Secretary Baldoz the outstanding power to determine what is labor-only contracting and what is not, and (3) authorized repression of workers’ strikes by legalizing the Labor Secretary’s assumption of jurisdiction over labor disputes he or she deems harmful to the national interest....President Aquino has been using the Herrera Law fully to serve the interests of the big capitalists in the country. He has pressed down workers’ wages by refusing to grant a significant wage hike.”–Roger Soluta, Kilusan Mayo Uno, KMU secretary-general; contact information: 09287215313

It is reported that since 1989, under the amended Labor Code, Contractualization had been most popular with capitalists hiring workers for short-term, non-regular employment without the benefits accorded by law to regular workers. Contractualization has become rampant among business and industrial enterprises in the country. The practice has effectively hobbled the already slow growth of trade unionism. It has depressed wages, while the employers enjoyed higher profits, and curbed the workers’ exercise of their right to strike and undertake other protest actions against management abuses. Worse, it has engendered union-busting schemes among enterprises besieged by labor disputes, not the least by the big domestic and foreign-owned corporations or their subsidiaries.

“Contractual employment egged on capitalists to lay off workers more easily and led the shameful finding by the International Labor Organization, ILO, that the Philippines has the highest unemployment rate in all of Southeast Asia. Unemployment in fact is exploding under the Aquino administration from 4.37 million in 2011 to 4.49 million in 2013 while job generation dropped from 1.2 million in 2011 to a mere 317,000 in the same year.”--GWP Rep. Luz Ilagan

De Jesus said that the rampant scourge of contractualization is not only demeaning and costly for young underemployed job applicants constantly hunting for jobs, but also threatens the life and health of workers. She cited the example of the workers injured and killed in 2011 while working on the Eton building who were refused compensation for injuries and death because they were contracted under many layers of job subcontracting. This Gabriela bill seeks to stop contractual
employment by rendering the contractor a redundant agent, while strengthening the relationship between the principal employer and employee. In case the contractor fails to pay wages, the principal is bound to pay the employees directly. Security of tenure provisions prevent employer from terminating employee except for just causes. Contracts made to fix employment durations to violate the bill’s provisions will be ruled null and void. Probationary employment is fixed at six months, after which period converts to regular employment.

Among House Bill No. 4396 provisions are those that would prevent employers from terminating any worker except for just cause, setting probationary employment at six-month duration, after which period the worker becomes a regular employee, and prescribing penalties for violations. Specifically, amendment is sought for the Labor Code’s Articles 106-109: These pernicious Articles have been empowering the Secretary of Labor to issue orders that will promote the hiring of contractual workers.

In 2011 the Secretary of Labor issued an order providing further guidelines for labor contractualization.

The big winners of Contractualization are the billionaire capitalists/developers, mostly foreigners, hiring thousands of Contractuals at starvation wages Big winners also are the employment agency-owners who rake in up to 20 percent of the impoverished laborers’ daily minimum wage. Check out those owners of Contractual employment agencies... be impressed with their luxurious lifestyles; at how wealthy these owners are from squeezing their commission out of these impoverished Filipino minimum wage.

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Dahliaspillera@yahoo.com

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