The Metal Workers Alliance of the Philippines has launched the STOP Precarious Work Campaign. Their demand: contractualization in all forms must be banned.

“Contractualization in all forms must be banned. Contractualization must end.” This is the statement of the Metal Workers Alliance of the Philippines, a national alliance of unions and workers’ associations in the industries of electronics, automotive, metallurgical mining, shipbuilding, metal, steel and related industries, on today’s observance of the Global Day for Decent Work and STOP Precarious Work Campaign.

This is the full statement from the Alliance:

“The decades-long implementation of neoliberal policies gave rise to contractualization and other labor flexibilization schemes. Contractual labor is called with so many names: casual, reliever, project-based, agency-hired, commission-based, seasonal, 555, endo, etc.

In complicity, governments and capitalists tried to sugar-coat contractualization and other labor flexibilization schemes, saying that it is needed for businesses and the economy to survive. But for the workers, contractualization meant nothing but lower wages, no benefits, no security of tenure and absence of basic rights.

In the metal industry, contractualization has widely proliferated. It is estimated that 7 out of 10 workers are contractuals and agency workers. Most of them are found in special economic zones, which are also famous for their unwritten “no union-no strike” policies. Many workers are women and young workers. Student labor is also prevalent, especially under the Dual Training System.

The Labor Code clearly states that the workers should become regular after six months of continuous work. However, various laws passes such as Herrera Law in 1989 and DOLE Department Order 18-A series of 2011 serves as a deceptive implementing of rules of Articles 106-109 of the Labor Code, which blurs and diminishes actual employee-employer relations.

No to “win-win” proposal!
We very much welcome Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s marching order to end contractualization. As he marks his 100 days in office tomorrow, we urge him to immediately end contractualization. We urge him to implement pro-worker policies. We say no to the “win-win” solution presented last Oct 3 in the dialogue between labor representatives and the Department of Labor and Employment.

The so-called “win-win” proposal states that workers can be hired by service providers as regulars with full benefits such as leave credits, 13th month pay, SSS, Philhealth, etc; that workers can get deployed or re-deployed when needed; that companies will have the flexibility to hire workers as regular or outsource due to seasonality or specific functions; and that there should be strict compliance of service providers in giving full benefits to the workers.

This “win-win” solution purely smacks of business interest. It doesn’t solve the issue of accountability and responsibility of principal employers. For whatever it is worth, it only strengthens the implementation of contractualization and further puts into greater risk the security of tenure and other rights of the workers.

We firmly stand that the principal employers have the main responsibility and accountability to all its workers. Labor agencies and service providers are simply agents of these employers.

Stop Precarious Work!

In promoting decent work, we reiterate our call to stop precarious work. This is tantamount to a living wage, regular and secure jobs, a safe and healthy work place, and respect of workers’ basic rights, especially the right to form unions, collectively bargain, and the strike.

We continue to call for the abolition of DO 18-A which further legalized labor flexibilization schemes. We call for the passafe of House Bill 556 or An Act Prohibiting the Practice of Labor Contractualization and Promoting Regular Employment.

We call for criminalization and stiffer penalties for violations of occupational health and safety standards.

As we demand regular jobs, we also call for the implementation of a living wage. We laud the pronouncement of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III of a PhP125 wage increase across-the-board as immediate relief to the Filipino workers. Likewise, we support the call to legislate a PhP750 daily national minimum wage.

As primary movers in the country’s economic development, we demand for our right to live a life with dignity.”

Christopher Oliquino
MWAP Secretary General