“Napatupad na ba ang pagbabawal sa ENDO?“

CTUHR Workers Shout SMS Hotline often receives this message from workers from different parts of the country. Six months into the Duterte administration, contractualization remains to be one of the most prevalent problems that plague the Filipino workers even as President Duterte promised to end contractualization.

“DOLE’s inability and inaction to deliver on its promise to end contractualization is utterly disappointing. After several consultations and dialogues with different labor groups, the department even ended up with deceiving proposals such as the win-win solution or the Deparment Order 30 (DO30), eventually called DO 168. They did very well in media interviews in these dialogues but poor in addressing the clamor of the workers,” Daisy Arago, CTUHR Executive Director said.

The group cited the case of “Mario,” a long-time contractual worker in Valenzuela who has been jumping from one job to another for the last eight years. He himself expressed his disappointment and frustration after 6 months of waiting for clear actions to end ENDO.

“President Duterte promised to end contractualization and that is what we are expecting, not some token policy that would worsen our situation,” Mario lamented. Like many contractual workers, Mario is stuck in this seemingly endless cycle of ENDO and the exploitation that comes with it: below minimum wages, no benefits, no social protection, no job security, long working hours without overtime pay and unsafe working conditions. In one of the companies he worked with, he has to change his name every five months so there would be no trace that he ever worked in the company, in case he demands for regularization or benefits.

CTUHR said that the DO 168, whose final version is yet to be publicized by the labor department “further legitimizes” contractualization of labor by passing on to service providers or manpower agencies” the responsibilities of the principal employers on their workers.

“It complicates contractual employment and gives an illusion that workers are ‘regular employees’ of their agencies. But in reality, workers will still be employed on a contract-basis and will still risk losing their jobs if they are no longer needed by companies. DO168 only added the responsibility of agencies to find jobs for them, provide financial assistance while they are still unemployed or give separation pay when they can’t really provide them any work. This setup still violates the right of the workers to security of tenure,” Arago averred.

The group also criticized DOLE’s claims that their hands are tied because of existing laws that allow some forms of contractualization. “The DOLE and the Duterte government should stop giving lame excuses but instead give workers their due: uphold the workers right to security of tenure and better wages. If the government is serious in heeding the workers demands, it should find ways to repeal laws and reject neoliberal policies that continuously aggravate the sufferings of our working,” Arago added.

Last January 6, DOLE announced that the implementation of D0168 is deferred and they are open for more proposals.

“This initial victory is only possible because of to the relentless calls of the workers to end contractualization. Workers must continue to unite and intensify their demand to stop all forms of contractualization,” Arago said.###