UCA News


Church backs campaign against casual labor contracting

Philippine workers launch signature drive to demand passage of law ending practice

Joe Torres, Manila

Joe Torres, Manila

Updated: February 21, 2018 08:48 AM GMT
Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Church backs campaign against casual labor contracting

Father Erik Adoviso (center), director of Manila Archdiocese's Labor ministry, speaks at a media briefing in Manila on Feb. 20. (Photo by Roy Lagarde)

Share this article :
A signature campaign by Philippine labor groups to force the government to pass a law that will end "casual labor-only contracting" has received backing from members of the Catholic clergy.

"Labor-only contracting" is the practice of using agents or manpower agencies to recruit casual workers on behalf of a bigger business, so the latter can circumvent labor rules and avoid hiring regular employees, consequently making it easier to sack people.

In January, the Lower House of Congress passed a bill outlawing the practice, but several legislators opposed the proposed measure for its alleged limited reach.

The country's labor groups, however, wanted President Rodrigo Duterte to sign an executive order to end so-called contractualization, one of the campaign promises he made in 2016.

The May First Movement, a federation of workers' groups, vowed to collect a million signatures by May 12 to dramatize their call.

"We strongly convey to President Duterte that signing anything less than the labor sector's executive order against contractualization is unacceptable," said Renato Magtubo, spokesman of labor alliance Nagkaisa.

Magtubo said the failure of the president to sign a draft order presented to him by workers last week has been perceived as backing away from his promise to support the labor sector's demand.

Father Erik Adoviso, executive director of Manila Archdiocese's Ministry for Labor Concerns, assured the labor groups of church support for their campaign.

"[We are] one with the workers on the issue of contractualization," said the priest, adding that from the very start, the church has proclaimed that "the human person is more important than capital."

Father Adoviso, however, said that in the Philippines "the priority is capital over the dignity of a person."

Duterte earlier asked labor groups to give him until March 15 to assess the draft executive order, which would prohibit labor-only contracting, and to explain it to employers.

The Labor Department earlier announced that it is targeting to regularize at least 300,000 contractual workers in 2018.

There are varied estimates as to how many from among employed Filipino workers are so-called "contractuals" or casuals. Consensus among labor groups is that at least half the country's 42.5-million labor force are casual workers.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority two-thirds of those employed are full-time workers.

In July 2017, full-time workers comprised 68 percent of the total employed persons, while the rest were part-time workers. 

Support UCA News...

As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.

That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.

Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.

UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.

And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.

We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.

With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.

Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...
UCAN Donate
Thank you. You are now signed up to our Daily Full Bulletin newsletter
Support UCA News

William J. Grimm, MM


Union of Catholic Asian News

"As Pope Francis has said, we live not so much in an era of change as in a change of era. That is especially true in Asia and for the churches of Asia. UCA News is the dedicated, Asia-wide news and information service for the Church in Asia and we need your help to maintain the service."