Contractual DOTr workers to be renewed after December 2018 deadline

MANILA, Philippines – Contractual employees under the Department of Transportation (DOTr) will no longer be terminated by year-end. Their services will be renewed for another 3 months instead.

Senator Joel Villanueva, chairperson of the Senate committee on labor, asked during the DOTr's budget briefing on Tuesday, September 11, why the department asked to be exempt from renewing the services of its contractual employees.

Under Joint Circular No. 1, series of 2017, all government agencies are allowed renewal of contracts until December 31, 2018. Come 2019, the government will hire contractual workers through private agencies instead – a notorious practice in the private sector.

The circular, however, allows agencies to apply for an extension of 3 more months for their contractual employees, as part of the transition period in complying with the measure. (READ: Why contractualization is bad for everyone, not just for workers)

At the Senate hearing, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade pledged to shelve the DOTr's plan to terminate the contractual workers, saying they would now opt for the 3-month extension.

"I am overriding the decision. We will act [on this]," Tugade told Villanueva.

Villanueva pointed out that the government has been strict in implementing labor laws in the private sector, and yet the government is one of the biggest employers of contractual workers. (READ: Contractual gov't workers oppose hiring through manning agencies)

"What we are trying to do is to push the private sector to adhere and submit to this position in ending the evils of endo (end of contract scheme). And yet, there are a lot [of contractual employees] in the government. It's hard to preach and ask the private sector to practice this [in this case]," Villanueva said in a mix of English and Filipino.

According to the senator, the DOTr's staffing summary includes 1,728 contractual employees, 89 casual employees, 5,175 job order (JO) employees, and 178 contract of service (COS) employees. They are part of the 25,000-strong DOTr workforce.

Based on the Civil Service Commission's 2016 audit of the bureaucracy, there are 2.4 million workers in the national government. One public sector worker attends to 42 Filipinos, pegged at the Philippine population of 100.98 million as of August 2016.

The number of JO and COS workers recorded was at 592,162 – nearly a quarter of the whole workforce. They are those hired through a term-based arrangement without benefits and tenure even if many of them have been in government service for at least a decade. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

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