“President Duterte’s ‘compromise’ means that he wants workers to be exploited indefinitely; and that we could never accept.”
By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA – The workers were promised an end to ENDO (end of contract or contractualization). Instead, they got a zero. This was the joint complaint of diverse labor groups that united to draft a common proposed Executive Order to end contractualization and submitted it for President Duterte’s signature. All these labor groups are now saying there should be no compromise on the labor sector-drafted executive order.
Last February 7, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) and Nagkaisa Labor Coalition were “utterly dismayed” that after their dialogue in Malacañang, following more than a year of nothing, President Rodrigo Duterte refused yet again to fulfill his promise and heed their demand to end all forms of contractualization. To the labor sector, their draft EO (executive order) is already a compromise. It is the product of dialogues and summits with the Labor Department since last year.
Following a Labor Day dialogue between the President and labor groups in Davao last year, Nagkaisa! and KMU jointly drafted an executive order. The President promised to sign the EO, if he received the draft within ten days after Labor Day. Nagkaisa! and KMU submitted the draft ahead of the president’s deadline.
“The failure of the President to sign last February 7 the draft EO presented to him by workers is perceived by many as turning his back on a longstanding presidential promise. We fear that the government delayed the signing of the EO to water it down in line with its previous policies that has institutionalized and not prohibited contractual employment,” KMU and Nagkaisa! said after the fruitless dialogue.
This week, President Duterte further revealed the direction he’s taking with the Executive Order on ending contractualization. Reports quoted him as saying: “I don’t think that I can really give them all kasi hindi naman natin mapilit ‘yung mga kapitalista na kung walang pera o ayaw nila o tamad (because we could not force capitalists, especially if they do not have the money or they do not want to or they are lazy). Don’t make it hard for them to run the business the way they like it because that’s their money. So something of a compromise must be, maybe, acceptable to everybody.”
“How could Duterte even have the guts to tell us that he could not give us ‘all’ when the truth is he hasn’t really given us anything but more burden. Instead of heeding our demand to end contractualization, he institutionalized it through the DOLE Order 174. On the contrary, Duterte has already given ‘all’ to foreign and local big businesses, from the TRAIN law to charter change,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, chairperson of KMU.
To read about some examples of contractuals in profitable companies, read: TNCS, Big Biz are big employers of contractuals
‘Expected but still enraging’ – KMU
Asked for reaction, Labog told Bulatlat this direction by the president is not unexpected but still enraging.
“Winarningan na namin si Pangulo na anumang pirmahang EO na mas malabnaw pa sa labor sector draft EO ay hindi katanggap-tanggap sa mga manggagawa,” (We already told the president that any EO more compromising than the labor sector-drafted EO is not acceptable to workers), Labog said.
The labor sector tried to meet the president, the Labor department and the employers halfway in their draft EO. Michael Mendoza, Nagkaisa Labor Coalition president, said they have recognized that there will be exemptions. But the labor sector’s unity rests on their draft EO’s effort to restore the norm of direct hiring rather than using manpower suppliers or labor-only contractors, which all the labor groups say circumvents the ban on the ‘cabo’ system (labor-only contracting).
Mendoza said that under the draft EO, they gave the President, through the DOLE Secretary, authority, upon consultation with the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council (NTIPC), to exempt jobs, activities and functions from the prohibition. Nagkaisa groups count among its members labor organizations under the moderate Trade Union Congress of the Philippines and other alliances.
Yet, despite the space the labor sector has already given up because, as Mr. Mendoza puts it, they “recognize the need to balance the interest of labor and capital,” it is still not enough for President Duterte. The Associated Labor Unions-TUCP called on President Duterte to fulfill his promise to workers.
“By rejecting the workers’ EO, Duterte has exposed himself as an obstacle to the Filipino workers’ demands for regular and decent jobs,” Labog said in another statement.
Labog said Duterte is not really after a ‘compromise.’ With Duterte’s decision “what he really meant is for us to lay down our legitimate and just demand to end all forms of contractualization to favor big business interests,” Labog said.
On March 15, the KMU, the Federation of Free Workers, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines and other labor centers under the Nagkaisa! Coalition is set to register their condemnation of Duterte’s refusal to sign the EO through a nationwide all labor sector protest.
“As long as majority of Filipino workers are contractuals, they will remain paid below minimum wage, receive no benefits, and deprived of their basic labor rights. President Duterte’s ‘compromise’ means that he wants workers to be exploited indefinitely; and that we could never accept,” Labog said.