TUCP official urges Duterte to hasten bill on security of tenure

Erwin P. Nicavera

A TOP official of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) urged President Rodrigo Duterte to certify as urgent House Bill No. 444, or the Security of Tenure Act filed by the TUCP party-list, following the issuance of the new order regulating contractualization.

Negrense labor leader Roland de la Cruz, vice president of TUCP and president of the National Congress of Unions in the Sugar Industry of the Philippines (Nacusip), said Friday, the Department Order (DO) 174, Series of 2017 is a “death order” to workers’ right to security of tenure, right to regular-direct hiring of jobs, and right to organize.

He said the order will only strengthen the legitimacy of the rampant labor-only contracting in the country.

“During the dinner meeting of President Duterte with us labor leaders in Malacañang, he reiterated his commitment to end contractualization. Now, workers are confused," De la Cruz told SunStar Bacolod in a telephone interview.

The TUCP official added: “Did the President reneged on his promise or the Labor Secretary committed insubordination? There is no middle ground.”

On Thursday, Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III signed DO No. 174 that sets stricter guidelines for contractualization, superseding DO No. 18 providing the original guidelines on contracting and subcontracting.

Labor groups had earlier slammed the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole), citing that the new rules still allow “legal” contractualization.

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

It 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 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.

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.

For TUCP, it does not address their call for regular and direct hiring of jobs, De la Cruz said.

Mass unity

Moreover, De la Cruz said they are calling for unity among the masses especially labor groups in the provinces, including Negros Occidental, to strongly bring the sector's grievances to the government.

De la Cruz said a national mass protest action is in the works.

Aside from demanding for the passage of Security of Tenure Bill, the mobilization also intends to remind Duterte of his campaign promise to end contractualization, he added.

"Local and national groups should set aside ideological differences to have a strong solid voice," the labor leader said, adding that the call for the resignation of Bello is only collateral to the issue.

Even if he resigns he already committed the damage, De la Cruz said.