“Bigo si Pangulong Duterte para tuparin ang batayang karapatan at kahilingan ng mga manggagawa at mamamayan (President Duterte failed to fulfill the basic rights and plea of workers and the people),” said Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) Secretary General Jerome Adonis in a media forum organized by Pinoy Media Center in Quezon City on April 18.
Adonis made the statement in relation to the labor data presented by Rochelle Porras, Executive Director of labor research center Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER) during the said forum.
According to Porras, workers continue to suffer ‘slave-like’ conditions. In a presentation, EILER said that the average labor productivity per day of workers in the National Capital Region (NCR) is worth P2,554 in 2013 while the computed family living wage needed to live decently is P1,119. The labor research center computed that the living basic pay in 2015 is pegged at P750, just enough for the workers to survive a day on a budget but the minimum wage remains P481 a day for workers in the NCR and much lower in other regions.
In addition, EILER claimed contractualization is worsening in the country.
In EILER’s estimate, contractual workers are now more than 50% of the employed labor force. In a research the research group conducted, 7 out of 10 construction workers are non-regular workers.
On the other hand, Ferdinand Gaite, Confederation for Unity and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) President presented that government employees are not spared from contractualization and low wages.
According to Gaite, in 2015, contractual employees now comprise 33.3% or 720,000 of government employees compared to 5% in the 1990s. He added that government employees also suffer from low wages where the lowest salary grade receives only P9,981/month and if an employee is from a 6th class municipality, an employee will receive only 65% of the minimum salary an employee from national agencies receive.
“Invisible ang hukbo ng mga kawani na ayaw ituring na mga manggagawa dahil walang employee-employer relationship (The army of employees become invisible because of the absence of employee-employer relationship),” said Gaite.
DO 174 fails to end contractualization
Meanwhile, Adonis hit the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) Department Order (DO) 174 which he said not only failed to end contractualization but further legitimizes it.
In Section 5 of DO 174, it states that labor-only contracting is absolutely prohibited which exists when the contractor or subcontractor (1) does not have substantial capital, (2) does not have investments in the form of tools, equipment, machineries, supervision, work premises, (3) it’s employees recruited and placed are performing activities which are directly related to the main business operation of the principal, and (4) does not exercise the right to control over the performance of the work of the employee.
However, in Section 8 of DO 174, it describes the circumstances when contracting is allowed. DO 174 will allow contracting or subcontracting if the contractor or subcontractor is engaged in a ‘distinct and independent business’, has substantial capital to carry out the job farmed out by the principal, it is free from control or direction of the principal, and the Service Agreement ensures compliance with all the rights and benefits for all the employees of the contractor or subcontractor.
“Ang paglabas ng Department Order 174 ay nagtuturo sa kapitalista kung papaano gawing ligal ang contractualization (The release of Department Order 174 teaches the capitalists how to legitimize contractualization),” said Adonis.
According to the KMU leader, contractualization boils down to the provision of Articles 106 to 109 of the Labor Code which define and allow job contracting and labor-only contracting which are both forms of contractualization.
“Ang itsura nito sa aktwal, mas agency ka, hindi ka regular sa prinsipal. Kaya yun ang malawak na dagat na mukha ng kontraktwalisasyon na nakakalat sa buong Pilipinas, talamak ito sa mga empresa at sa mga export processing zones,” said Adonis.
DO 174 was signed on March 16, 2017 by DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III despite opposition of labor groups and counter-proposals.
Adonis narrated that they have held several dialogues with Sec. Bello and even with President Duterte and presented a draft DO that will ban all forms of contractualization, but both failed to act on their proposals.
KMU is set to lead thousands of workers on Labor Day, May 1, to press the Duterte administration to end all forms of contractualization, call for regular jobs, living wages, social justice and just peace.