Workers reject 'weak' anti-endo bill

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Various labor groups denounced "in strongest possible terms" the Senate-approved version of the security of tenure bill, which was also adopted by the House of Representatives.

The groups said the anti-contractualization measure failed to address key issues, and thus is "not worthy of support."

The groups who rejected the bill are the following:

"We are denouncing in strongest possible terms the passage of the non-harmonized version of the security of tenure bills.... With the House adopting Senate Bill No. 1826 en toto, our dream of having stronger anti-contractualization provisions in the Labor Code is dead," the groups said.

They argued that some strong provisions in House Bill No. 6908 should have been incorporated in the final version of the bill.

They said the following provisions which were in the House version should have been tackled, if there were a bicameral conference committee:

The liability of the principal employer and contractors was also watered down in the Senate version, according to the groups.

'Totally undermined'

In a text message to Rappler on Wednesday night, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) said it has formally asked Senate President Vicente Sotto III and House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to "consider" the proposed language of the bill, as proposed by the labor groups.

Aside from the suggestions by other labor groups mostly under the Nagkaisa Labor Coalition, TUCP also suggested that industrial tripartite councils per industry should determine what jobs should not be under a manpower agency, and "go after" labor-only contractors.

TUCP noted that there must be "joint and solidary liability" of both contractor and contractee not only on the wages due, but also the unremitted social welfare benefits such as the Social Security System, Pag-IBIG Fund, and PhilHealth contributions for affected workers.

"All these were to be introduced for the consideration in the bicam. However, the bicam was short-circuited," TUCP spokesperson Alan Tanjusay told Rappler.

"This is not the kind of bill that we tried to end endo. We tried our best to work this out with senators and congressmen, but we were outmaneuvered, boxed out, and totally undermined," he added.

Up for signing into law

The anti-endo (end of contract) bill is now up for President Rodrigo Duterte's signature, as the 17th Congress is set to adjourn on June 8.

It defines labor-only contracting, a form of illegal employment, as when:

The anti-endo bill also classifies workers under 4 employment types: regular, probationary, project, and seasonal. Project and seasonal workers have the same rights as regular employees, such as payment of minimum wage and social protection benefits.

Violators would face a fine of up to P5 million, with the labor secretary having the power to "preventively or permanently" close the operations of the labor-only contractor.

Ending contractualization was a campaign promise of Duterte, who certified the endo bill as urgent in September 2018. (READ: TIMELINE: Duterte's promise to abolish endo)

Duterte signed an executive order supposedly ending endo, but progressive lawmakers and labor leaders slammed it as "inutile," as it failed to abolish the practice.

Malacañang then pointed at Congress, saying that a law has to be in place to end endo. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

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