Labor groups slam House bill proposing 2-year probationary period for workers

MANILA, Philippines – Labor groups rejected a proposed House bill seeking to extend the probationary period of workers over 3 times from 6 months to 2 years, warning that its implementation would only worsen contractualization.

Labor groups Defend Job Philippines, Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), and Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) rejected House Bill 4802 filed by Probinsyano Ako partylist representative Jose "Bonito" Singson, denouncing it as a "cheap trick" to deprive workers of their right to regularization and benefits.

"The bill illustrates how our lawmakers are completely out of touch with the conditions of the ordinary Filipinos and seek to further aggravate them," BMP said.

Defend Job Philippines and the Regent Food Workers Union (RFWU) took to the streets on Friday, October 18, to protest the bill.

The groups hit HB4802 as nothing but “a pro-business and anti-workers policy."

Defend Job Philippines spokesperson Christian Magsoy urged House members to junk the bill to prove they were truly serious in enacting a law that will ban all forms of contractualization, provide security of tenure, and institutionalize regular employment for workers.

In filing the bill, Singson, who is the younger brother of businessman and Ilocos Sur kingpin Luis “Chavit” Singson, claimed the current 6-month probationary period was "not sufficient" for employers to determine if a worker was qualified for regular employment.

He added that the bill would benefit workers and "create better job security" because they would be able to enjoy work for more than 6 months, thus enabling them to qualify for some benefits under law.

BMP president Luke Espiritu opposed Singson's view, saying it only goes to show that the lawmaker did not know enough about labor.

In a statement on Friday, Anakpawis party list also voiced their opposition to the bill, describing it as "undemocratic" and "anti-Filpino."

“It is the anti-thesis of the aspiration of millions of Filipino workers for regular work and better job; this champions the interests of foreign monopoly corporations and oligarchs, to rake giant profits," Anakpawis former lawmaker Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao said.

In a setback for workers' groups earlier this year, President Rodrigo Duterte vetoed the security of tenure bill despite certifying it as urgent. Labor groups vowed they would continue efforts to abolish all forms of contractualization. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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