Group: New contractualization order a ‘propaganda’

Erwin P. Nicavera

A LABOR group in Negros Occidental is eyeing a massive protest action against the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) as it denounced its order setting stricter guidelines for contractualization.

Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Thursday signed Department Order (DO) No. 174, Series of 2017, superseding DO No. 18 providing the original guidelines on contracting and subcontracting.

Wennie Sancho, secretary general of General Alliance of Workers Association (Gawa), said the new order is not new because most of the prohibitions are already provide in the Labor Code.

Sancho said that like other labor groups in the country Gawa is also dismayed by the order, claiming that Bello did not fulfill the promise of President Rodrigo Duterte to fully stop contractualization.

“We want regularization of workers and not regulating contractualization,” he said, adding that “it is merely a propaganda, the workers were taken for a ride and now we are back to square one.”

Through DO 174, Dole said labor-only contracting, or the practice of merely recruiting or supplying workers to perform a job or work for an employer, is prohibited.

Under labor-only contracting, the agency does not have substantial capital or investment relating to the work or service to be rendered, the order said.

Thus, it sets a bigger capital requirement for manpower agency and shorter validity period of contractor’s registration as well as increasing the registration fee.

The DO also limits “endo” or the end of contract scheme through prohibition of continuous hiring of workers under a repeated contract of short duration by contractor and subcontractor like a manpower agency.

The new guidelines also prohibit the “cabo” system and contracting work from an in-house agency or cooperative due to a strike and those performed by union leaders to ensure employees’ rights to self-organization.

Also, Dole will not allow requiring employees to sign shorter-term contract and compelling agency-hired workers to do jobs being performed by regular employees of the principal company.

Other employment practices and schemes designed to circumvent the right of workers to security of tenure are also prohibited.

For Gawa, these prohibitions would not result to an absolute resolution to long-overdue contractualization woes in the country.

Sancho said the workers’ security of tenure was taken for granted and contractualization will proliferate once more.

He added that they will further study the DO and air their grievances most probably through massive protest rallies.

“This propaganda is a deception, our stand is for regularization of jobs not regulation,” Sancho said, adding that they will also demand for the resignation of Bello for allegedly disregarding the constitutional provision on the workers’ security of tenure.

Meanwhile, Frank Carbon, regional governor of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) in Negros Island Region and Western Visayas, said that initially there is nothing to oppose as most of the provisions of the order are already been existing.

Carbon, also the chief executive officer of the Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBBCI), said they have yet to check the details of the DO, meet, and come up with an official stand.

He added that they welcome the move of the Dole to deploy additional 200 labor law inspectors and deputize labor leaders to function as compliance inspectors.

“Initially, I don't find it unfavorable for the management sector but further evaluation will still be conducted as the welfare of the industry's labor component should also be considered,” he added.