Villanueva urges passage of bill ending illegal contractualization

MANILA Senator Joel Villanueva on Tuesday urged for the immediate passage of a bill that seeks to end abusive work schemes like "endo" and labor-only contracting, stressing that stopping the illegal practices not only promotes the rights of the workers but also benefits businesses.

In his sponsorship speech of Senate Bill No. 1826, or the Security of Tenure bill, Villanueva echoed President Rodrigo Duterte's call during his last State of the Nation Address for a law to address the abuses of endo and labor-only contracting.

Endo, or end of contract, is defined as "the scheme of continuously employing workers on a fixed period and replacing these workers again upon expiration of the contract with other workers on the same employment duration."

The practice is prevalent in manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, accommodation and food service, and crop and animal production.

On the other hand, "contracting" refers to an arrangement whereby a principal agrees to engage the services of a contractor to perform or complete a specific job or work within a definite or predetermined period, regardless of whether such job or work is to be performed or completed within or outside the premises of the principal.

Villanueva said the practice of contractualization affects more than 1.9 million workers in the private sector.

Overall, about three out of 10 Filipino workers are not regular and one out of two non-regular workers are contractual, the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Labor said.

He said contractual workers are lowly paid, suffer under inhuman working conditions and they remain poor due to the uncertainty in their economic future.

The senator also lamented the weak enforcement of regularization orders by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), citing the cases of Nutri-Asia and telecommunications giant PLDT.

"Ang bottomline po dito ay ang labor-only contracting na siyang numero unong behikulo ng 'endo' ay labag sa karapatan ng mga manggagawa (The bottomline is that labor-only contracting, which is the main vehicle for endo, violates the rights of the workers), the senator said.

Meanwhile, Villanueva stressed that ending these abusive work schemes will also benefit the industries.

Ending 'endo' is not anti-business. Giving our workers certainty and social protection makes them more efficient, more productive, and, in lieu of 'social clauses' and brand codes of conduct, more market competitive, which is the primary concern of every business," he said.

The lawmaker cited a 2004 study conducted by the International Labor Organization (ILO) in 13 European countries which revealed that the relationship between tenure and productivity for the period 1992 to 2002 shows that at an aggregate level, tenure has a positive effect on productivity for about 14 years and levels off thereafter.

The study suggests that countries remain productive with a high share of long-tenured workers, Villanueva said.

He pointed out that Senate Bill 1826 meets the interests of the labor sector and the interests of the business sector as shown in the salient features of the proposed measure.

First, the Security of Tenure Bill provides social protection to workers by ensuring their constitutional right to security of tenure through the prohibition on labor-only contracting.

Second, the bill only allows independent, licensed and specialized job contracting, simplifying classification of workers and tightening the rules regarding probationary employees.

Third, the measure establishes a Transition Support Program (TSP) for workers to ensure their continuous growth through skills training as well as financial assistance while they are not at work or transitioning between jobs.

Finally, the Security of Tenure bill provides DOLE and the employers with clearly defined policies.

The Security of Tenure bill is pro-labor, pro-business, and pro-Filipino," the lawmaker said.

"I firmly believe that Senate Bill 1826 is about respecting the dignity of our fellow Filipino workers, and at the same time looks after the concerns of all businesses � big and small - in the country, Villanueva said. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency