Labor group: Absolute end on ‘endo’ unlikely

Erwin P. Nicavera

NEGROS Occidental-based labor group General Alliance of Workers Association (Gawa) said the government will not be fair in interpreting the proposed executive order (EO) absolutely ending contractualization in the country.

Wennie Sancho, secretary-general of Gawa, said they do not expect President Rodrigo Duterte to sign the draft EO during the next dialogue with the labor sector on March 15 like what happened in the third meeting earlier this year.

Sancho said the capitalists have stronger influence on the government than the labor sector thus, the push to stop the end of contract (endo) scheme may still be a failure.

“We are in guarded optimism, but most likely there will be no absolute end of endo,” he said, adding that the President's promise during the election period will not be realized.

On February 26, various labor groups in the country joined the simultaneous national protests calling on Duterte to sign the EO absolutely abolishing “endo.”
Partido Manggagawa (PM)-Negros said that after conducting three dialogues with the President, the latter has not yet signed the EO drafted by the labor groups since last year that would supposedly put an end to contractualization.

Department Order (DO) 174, signed by Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III last year, provides “prohibitions” against contractualization but does not totally abolish such employment scheme, the group claimed.

“Based on the EO that we drafted, there should be no subcontracting. Meaning, workers should be employed directly by the principal employers,” PM-Negros secretary-general Priscilla Goco said.

The DO No. 174 sets stricter guidelines for contractualization, and superseding DO No. 18 providing the original guidelines on contracting and subcontracting.

Under which, 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" through the prohibition of continuous hiring of workers under a repeated contract of short duration by contractor and subcontractor like a manpower agency.

The guidelines 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.

National labor leaders had earlier slammed the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole), citing that the new rules still allow "legal" contractualization.

Roland de la Cruz, national president of National Congress of Unions in the Sugar Industry of the Philippines (Nacusip), had  earlier said they felt that the workers are just being played since it has been almost two years and three meetings yet nothing has  happened.

The labor sector was serious in its commitment to submit a draft executive order but government failed to do its part of the bargain, by approving the same, De la Cruz said.

“In fact, the submitted executive order was watered down by the Dole from the original proposal submitted by the labor sector. We are very disappointed,” he added.

Amid apprehensions that contractualization will still perpetuate, Sancho pointed out that they do not oppose project-based or seasonal employees.

“However, works that are necessary and desirable to the company should be regularized,” Sancho said.

He added that labor groups in the province have yet to consolidate possible actions to make stronger opposition against contractualization.