MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) revealed on Tuesday, October 4, that about 10,532 workers have been regularized by 195 employers so far during the first 100 days of the Duterte administration.
"This means that we are on track in our objective to reduce illegitimate contractualization practices and 'endo' by 50% by the end of 2016, and abolishing it by 2017," Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said on Tuesday.
"Endo" is the colloquial term for "end of contract" – the process by which companies hire employees for less than 6 months to avoid being covered by the labor code requirement to regularize employment after that period.
On Tuesday, Bello said he considers the regularization of these employees as among his department's biggest accomplishments yet. (READ: Duterte to companies: Stop contractualization or I will close you)
He even cited as example the local franchise of 24/7 convenience store chain 7- Eleven and SM Investments Corporation.
According to him, 7-Eleven has already regularized some 800 workers, while SM has so far regularized around 4,796 workers – 1,156 of them are probationary, while 3,640 are seasonal workers.
"Although sumusunod sila unti-unti sa regularization, we were able to discover some violations of labor standards (While they are slowly following regularization, we were able to discover some violations of labor standards)," Bello explained.
He also revealed that Rustan's has committed to regularize 1,200 workers. The chain of upscale department stores has 4,000 workers, according to the labor secretary, but only 2,400 of them are regulars.
In eliminating illegitimate contractualization, labor-only contracting, and "endo," the department adopted two tracks.
The first track is a series of consultations and meetings by regional offices to encourage employers to voluntarily regularize workers.
The second track is a sustained inspection of establishments, principals, and contractors that are practicing "endo" and labor-only contracting arrangements.
Bello said those found to be engaged in labor-only contracting arrangements are subjected to mandatory conferences. For instance, DOLE will meet SM this week for a mandatory conference.
Below is the breakdown of the number of workers who were regularized under both tracks:
DOLE said as of 2014, there were almost 622,000 agency-hired contractual workers in the country.
Labor Undersecretary Dominador Say said the Duterte administration's crackdown on "endo" is for the benefit of employees.
"[It] doesn't necessarily mean anti-establishment, but [the President] is for the Constitution," he added, reiterating that being pro-law is the duty of any elected official.
Labor groups react
Labor groups, meanwhile, described the government's efforts as "backpedaling" on the issue of serial labor contracting.
"Our barometer that there is no more contractualization is when Shoemart (SM), Robinson Malls and the whole Gokongwei empire, [has ended the hiring of contractuals]," said Butch Peña of the National Anti Poverty Council (NAPC) Formal Labor and Migrant Workers Council (FLMWC).
Representing the labor sector in NAPC, FLMWC urged the department to eliminate the practice by repealing Articles 106-109 of the Labor Code, which legally allows subcontracting.
The group also wants Duterte to certify as urgent a bill pushing for security of tenure for both public and private workers.
Aside from the bill, they are also urging the DOLE and the Civil Service Commission (CSC) to "immediately issue their own department order stating that all forms of contractualization are prohibited."
The CSC has the mandate to manage the workers in government, where there is a high incidence of contract-based employment. – with reports from Patty Pasion/Rappler.com
Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.