employment rate in the Philippines

Misamis Oriental workers seek end to contractualization

Bobby Lagsa
Misamis Oriental workers seek end to contractualization
Labor leaders say workers do not feel the effects of the Philippines' economic growth

CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – Close to 3,600 workers and farmers from Misamis Oriental took to the streets on Labor Day, May 1, to demand an end to contractualization and unfair labor practices.

Tita Hadman, regional coordinator of Kilusang Mayo Uno, said that the country’s labor sector is in a dismal state.

She pointed out that the cost of living of a family of 5 is around P1,000, while the minimum wage in Northern Mindanao is P318 a day.

This makes the trumpeted 6% average gross domestic product growth of the Aquino administration far from being felt by the Filipino worker, according to Hadman.

“The 6% economic growth is only for the few and friends of President Aquino. It never reached the table of the working and peasant class. There is no economic growth for us,” she said.

2015 data from the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) showed that Northern Mindanao posted the fastest average growth in gross regional domestic product at 6% over the last 12 years since 2003.

The region has a labor population of 2.133 million workers and an employment rate of 94.3%, according to NEDA data. 

But its underemployment rate is 25.5% and there are 122,000 Filipinos unemployed in the region.

“There is no security of tenure anymore. After 6 months, you will have to work for another job,” Hadman said. (READ: Can the next president end contractualization?)

LABOR DAY PROTEST. Workers from Misamis Oriental march through the streets on May 1, 2016. Photo by Bobby Lagsa/Rappler

End contractualization now

Gregorio Pizarro, national president of the Federation of Democratic Labor Organizations, said that the provision in the Revised Labor Code that stipulates that “any person who works for the company for 6 months and one day must be treated as regular employee” has become a “choking point” for gainful employment instead of ensuring job security. (READ: SM Investments Corp: We don’t practice contractualization)

Pizarro added that some workers do not even know their rights as an employee – which is a sign of poor labor practices.

“They don’t know what their rights are, or if they are covered with the bonuses even if they just work for just 5 months,” he said.

Pizarro also criticized Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Department Order 18-A series of 2011, which was signed by DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz.

DOLE Department Order 18-A states the implementing rules for articles 106 to 109 of the Revised Labor Code.

Pizarro said that while Baldoz’s order defines the roles of sub-contracting, labor only contracting, private recruitment, and placement agencies, it also strengthens agency-based hiring.

“You are a regular worker of the agency, not by the business principal, even if you are doing the core business of the principal,” Pizarro added. “The employees are doing the core business of the principal of the agency, which under the law is illegal.”

Jomorito Guaynon, regional chairman of the Kalumbay Lumad Organization and Kalumbay party list first nominee, pointed out that while the presidential candidates have promised to end contractualization, it would be easier said than done.

They promised that they will work to put an end to ‘end of contract.’ That we will have to see and it takes a lot of political will to do it,” Guaynon said.

Hadman believes that none of the 5 presidential bets have actually specified how they intend to stop contractualization.

“The workers are already jaded with the promises of the politicians about their labor policies,” she added. “What we want is the end of labor export policies. Decent work with just compensation must be achieved here so people will stay.” – Rappler.com

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