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House OKs bill requiring universities to teach workers' rights

MANILA, Philippines – A bill that would require higher education institutions to integrate into their general education curriculum the rights of Filipino laborers hurdled the House of Representatives. 

On Monday, September 23, legislators approved on 3rd and final reading House Bill (HB) No. 4466 or the proposed Labor Education Act with a vote of 234-0-0. 

The measure was authored by the following legislators: 

Go, as chairperson of the House committee on higher and technical education, sponsored the bill in the House plenary.

If passed into law, HB No. 4466 would require universities and colleges to integrate labor education into the "mandatory social science subjects being offered under the general education curriculum in higher education courses." (READ: [OPINION] Contractualization and the rights of workers) 

The measure defines labor education as the "teaching of labor rights, workers' welfare and benefits, core labor standards, labor laws and regulations, the national and global labor situation, labor market concerns, labor issues, overseas work and related problems, the nature of human labor, the role of labor in the self-realization of the human being, the foundations of the dignity of labor, and other topics related to labor and employment."

The Commission on Higher Education would be tasked to develop the program on labor education. 

Filipino laborers and unions have long been pushing for the government to end all forms of labor contractualization or endo and fixed-term employment in the country.

Ending labor contractualization was a campaign promise of President Rodrigo Duterte, who had certified as urgent the security of tenure bill in the previous 17th Congress.

But he later vetoed the measure, saying that labor-only contracting "should be prohibited" but "legitimate job contracting should still be allowed." (READ: Workers forgotten in SONA? TUCP says labor not Duterte's policy priority) 

Legislators like the progressive Makabayan bloc lawmakers and Senator Joel Villanueva have since refiled their versions of the security of tenure bill under the current 18th Congress. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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