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Philippines

Philippine bishop urges end of unfair contract practices

Workers must unite to ensure one voice to stamp out unjust labor contracts, he says

Mark Saludes, Manila

Mark Saludes, Manila

Published: July 04, 2016 09:57 AM GMT
Philippine bishop urges end of unfair contract practices

Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila says stakeholders need to cooperate if they want to end inequitable temporary labor contracts. (ucanews.com photo by Mark Saludes)

A leading Philippine church leader has called on the country's labor sector to unite despite "ideological differences" to press the government to stop temporary labor contracts that are unfair.

"Filipino workers must come together and set aside political ideology to ensure oneness of our voice and stamp out [temporary contract] practices," Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila told ucanews.com.

The prelate said "cooperation and close coordination" of stakeholders is vital in providing a solution to the industry practice of non-renewal of workers' contracts after a period of six months.

Filipinos workers have been complaining of uncertain tenure because many are hired under contracts usually not renewed beyond six months.

Under the contracts, companies hire the workers through employment agencies and pay them the minimum wage or less without social benefits such as paid leave, health care, retirement or separation pay.

When the contract expires, the worker becomes jobless and waits for the next contract or applies at another agency.

New Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has vowed to stop the use of temporary labor contracts (contractualization) during his term.

"Contractualization will stop. They have to stop it ... It is an injustice committed against the Filipino people. I will not allow that as president of the country," promised Duterte during his election campaign early this year.

Recommendations

On June 3, the Church-Labor Conference, an organization of labor and church groups in the country, came up with ten recommendations on how the government can address the problem of short-term contract use in the workforce.

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The group proposed to conduct a nationwide labor consultation to thresh out employment schemes that violate labor laws; generate proposals to address violations; and establish mechanisms to encourage workers’ participation.

The organization also urged the government to deputize labor leaders to conduct inspections and provide reports on violations of labor laws and regulations.

The group said the use of temporary labor contracts are the "gravest threat to our workers’ right to security of tenure."

Bishop Pabillo said the recommendations aim to strengthen the workers' security of tenure.

The prelate said a five-month work contract with a minimum wage pay "serves only the interests of the businesses and not of the worker."

"This labor scheme prohibits our workers to organize themselves and create unions. It is important for a worker to be part of a union that ensures collective bargaining," said the prelate.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello said the government under Duterte would discontinue temporary contract use for employees whose services are essential in the operation of business.

Bello said he is planning to require business owners to regularize 80 percent of their staff within three to six months of the new administration.

He said the government would also implement a verification system that will determine if a worker is cheated when it comes to security of tenure.

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