Unionists Urge DOLE to Push for Security of Tenure
Following the vetoing of the “Security of Tenure” (SOT) Bill last July and the recent proposal for the extension of the 6-month probationary period to 2 years, hundreds of workers under different unions appealed to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to abolish contractualization by creating and endorsing a new security of tenure bill on October 22.
“Secretary Bello cannot fulfill his mandate of fostering industrial peace if he needs President Duterte’s marching order to give employers the unrestricted power to determine which activities can be contracted out,” Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) President Luke Espiritu said.
“Industrial peace cannot be achieved if millions of workers are suffering under precarious working conditions,” he added.
Unions such as Goodyear Philippines, Armscor Union, Cosmic Enterprises Inc. Independent Union, Bestank Drivers Union, and Trans Asia Labor Action participated in the three-hour protest in front of DOLE’s main office. These unions has pending cases involving illegal contractualization practices based on the trilateral work arrangements experienced by workers.
Condemning Anti-Worker Policies
Representative Jose Singsong Jr. of the Probinsyano Ako party-list proposed House Bill (HB) No. 4802, which seeks for the extension of the current probationary period of workers from the current six months to a lengthy 2-year duration. However, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III was quick to reject the proposal along with other government officials.
“The DOLE has taken a different position on the proposed measure because such extension is too long. Kawawa naman ang ating mga manggagawa (We pity our workers),” he said.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo also agreed with DOLE’s decision not to approve HB No. 4802. Should Congress pass the measure, it is very likely for President Rodrigo Duterte to veto the bill as it opposes his stand against the controversial contractualization system, commonly known as “endo” or “end of contract.”
“I agree with him (Bello) kasi precisely nga kontra tayo sa ginagawang maniobra nila doon sa six months probational period tapos hahabaan mo pa (because we are against the practice of employers taking advantage of the six months probationary period and then they seek to extend it),” the Presidential Spokesman stressed.
“If that is the policy of the President then you don’t even need an assurance from him. It means, he will veto whatever law that goes against his pronounced policy,” he added.
The PAGGAWA also condemned the proposed measure while the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) is also against it as it can let the “endo labor slavery system” that is present in the Philippines to proliferate further. TUCP also mentioned that Filipino workers might consider seeking greener pastures abroad should the probationary period extend.
Although filed as “urgent”, the President vetoed HB No. 4444 last July. The bill strengthens the workers’ right to security of tenure after several businesses voiced out their concerns about the security of tenure’s effect in the economy and the possible loss of job opportunities. Regardless of the veto, the President still stands by his “firm commitment to protect the workers’ right to security of tenure by eradicating all forms of abusive employment practices.