SoT bill not enough to end all forms of contractualization

Artwork from End Endo Now Exhibit at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines. Photo by Nadja de Vera
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A labor research group takes on a more critical stance as it welcomes the passage of Security of Tenure Bill on final reading, saying that the broad labor unity and massive nationwide protests have pushed the administration to pass the bill with stricter prohibitions on labor-only contracting.

“The passage of SoT bill is a positive step in ensuring security of tenure of our workers. We must however remain cautious as the bill still retains that there is ‘legitimate’ labor contracting in spite of the workers’ demand to end to all forms of contractualization and other forms of flexible work arrangements,” said Rochelle Porras, Executive Director of Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER).

EILER noted that Section 3 and onwards of the bill still allow outsourcing, contracting and subcontracting as a legitimate labor practice and leaves DOLE the power to regulate contractualization. Despite the prohibitions the bill was aiming to set, many enterprises can still practice labor-only contracting even if this will be regulated. As such, the bill still does not essentially prohibit widespread contractualization. 

“Any provisions allowing job contracting or subcontracting defeats the purpose of ending all forms of contractualization. There should be no loopholes in the law where enterprises can circumvent the right to security of tenure of all workers across all industries,” Porras said.

Porras emphasized that the exploitative endo or the “end of contract” scheme deprives workers of living wages, freedom of association, security of tenure and other labor rights. 

She also said that DOLE is not duly ensuring that enterprises are implementing all its regularization orders in favor of the workers. DOLE and non-compliant businesses must be held accountable for union-busting and dismissal of workers due to reversal of compliance orders.

“We call on our newly elected house representatives and senators to stand firm against pressure from business groups who are still using the rubbish excuse that we need to promote contractualization to attract foreign investors. The truth is they are protecting their primary interest, which is to reap maximum profits from labor contracting,” Porras said.

“Listen to the demands of the workers and ultimately pass a bill that strengthens constitutional provisions on regular employment. Junk neoliberal economic policies and promote decent, regular jobs with living wages in order to effectively end all forms of contractualization,” Porras ended. 

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