A labor research group slams the Employers Confederation of the Philippines and Philippine Chamber of Commerce Industry in their unjust opposition to any bill that prohibits contractualization.
The Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER) said that the business groups’ free market argument relies on labor flexibilization and deregulation to reap higher profits from contractual workers in favor of big capitalists. This means guaranteeing that Filipino workers are paid the lowest minimum wages without additional benefits and that they work for longest hours possible. It’s also a direct attack to freedom of association, as contractual workers are prohibited from forming or joining unions.
“Contrary to the claims of ECOP and PCCI, ending contractualization and promoting decent, regular jobs will actually be beneficial for businesses and the poor of the country as regular employment provides access to living wages and series of social protection and welfare programs. It also will strengthen the collective bargaining power of workers,” said Rochelle Porras, Executive Director of EILER.
According to EILER, the neoliberal policy of labor flexibilization is meant to further depress wages through non-standard and precarious forms of employment. This worsened exploitation of workers through rampant contractualization, labor-only-contracting, subcontracting including multiple subcontracting, outsourcing, agency-hiring, fixed-term hiring, intern labor, and others. It also makes use of compressed work week, broken time and flexi-time schemes, multi-skilling, job-leveling, and other non-standard structuring of time and work shifting within the workplace. The capitalists are able to fully implement these schemes under the pretext of voluntary compliance or management’s prerogative. Contractualization and flexible work arrangements led to greater social inequalities and higher job losses in the country.
EILER added that the business groups’ opposition is nothing new.
“They’ve always threatened MSMEs, that profits will decrease, workers will lose jobs, the economy will fall if we ban contractualization. It’s a very profit-oriented, exploitative and self-serving argument. ECOP and PCCI want to intensify contractualization in order to serve the demands of foreign corporations for cheap labor and cheap raw materials. Napaka- anti-worker,” Porras added.
In a separate statement on May 24, EILER welcomed the passage of Senate Bill 1826 on the third reading, but taking a more critical stance, said that the bill alone is not enough to end all forms of contractualization.
“The bill has loopholes as it still allows the principal-contractor-employee relationships, but it is a positive step in ensuring security of tenure of our workers. We must continue to amplify the call to demand to an end to all forms of job contracting and flexible work arrangements,” Porras ended.