Labor Day rallyists want to end contractualization

MANILA Various groups advocating for the complete end of contractualization on Tuesday converged in Mendiola and other parts of Metro Manila to celebrate Labor Day.

Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), Nagkaisa Labor Coalition, Sentro and several groups gathered at assembly points around the metropolis and marched to Mendiola Peace Arch, where their leaders aired their views about the recently signed executive order (EO) of President Rodrigo R. Duterte prohibiting illegal contractualization.

Renato Magtubo, president of Nagkaisa, said the EO should have included the provisions they wrote under the fifth draft that they submitted to the national government, where employment relations are set as direct hiring.

"If there is employment contracting, exemption to the rule, it should be discussed at the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council," he said.

Meanwhile, Labor Undersecretary Joel Maglunsod said the EO signed would serve as a guide of Congress in drafting a bill that will revise the labor laws, noting it was the version of the President and not by the employers.

The Labor Day event concluded peacefully with labor leaders ending the program with a symbolic signing towards unity in fighting for laborers' rights.

Several individuals, who participated in the event shared their collective sentiment to end contractualization.

Estello Abas, 48, member of the Partidong Manggagawa (PM) travelled from Cavite to Mendiola to hold his group's banner, which bore their battle cry towards the regularization of laborers, and to share how the practice of contractualization is a cycle of struggle to majority of the Filipino people.

"Ang anak ko, sila naman ngayon ang pumapasan, sila ang nagtratrabaho. Contractual din (My children, they are now carrying the burden of being contractual workers now that they are employees themselves)," he told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in an interview.

Abas was then a factory worker, jumping from one contractual job to the other. With the numerous times he experienced "endo", or end of contract period, the PM banner-bearing man said he could not remember all the companies he had worked for.

"Karamihan sa atin magtratrabaho tapos mag-e-endo, anong mangyayari? Mahirap. Sana maibigay na yung tama para sa karamihan, regularisasyon (If most of us laborers work and face endo, what will happen to us? We will suffer. I hope that our rights will be given to us regularization)," he said.

Sr. Theody Bilocuran of St. Scholastica's Academy of Marikina shared the same sentiment.

"We hope for a more sincere response on the calls to respect and give the rights of our laborers," she said.

Bilocuran said wages must be increased, and the government must respond to end "endo".

Like Abas and Bilocuran, Ka Bert, member of the Samahan ng Manggagawa ng Harbour Center, said ending contractualization within their ranks will provide them the benefits they long deserve.

Meanwhile, a labor group leader said there was no need for Duterte to sign an EO or for Congress to pass a legislation banning the illegal contractualization of workers since the same law has already been stipulated in Article 106 of the Philippine Labor Code.

Why is there a need for it (EO) since he can order the labor secretary to implement Article 106 of the Labor Code? It's very clear in the Article 106 that labor-only contracting is illegal, said Wildon Barros, secretary-general of Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) in Northern Mindanao.

Since the Department of Labor is a branch of the government's executive power, Barros said Duterte can simply give an order to Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello to implement the Labor Code's provision.

Article 106 states, The Secretary of Labor and Employment may, by appropriate regulations, restrict or prohibit the contracting out of labor to protect the rights of workers established under this Code.

In a speech delivered in Cebu City on Tuesday, Duterte announced that he has signed the EO banning illegal contracting or subcontracting, saying he wanted to stick to his campaign promise to end contractualization and give Filipinos a decent and comfortable life.

He however, said that to implement an effective and lasting solution to the problems brought about by contractualization, Congress needs to enact a law amending the Labor Code.

While the EO alleviates the problems, it is still Congress that needs to do the work, said the chief executive. (With reports from Jigger J. Jerusalem/ Eleazar Batalla, OJT/PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency