By Nelson Flores, Ll.B., MSCK
A NEWLY organized labor alliance of trade unions and political centers, Workers Against Contractualization, on Labor Day accused President Rodrigo Duterte of betraying the working class by rejecting their collective demand to end all forms of contractualization.
WAC spokesperson Ernie Arellano and leader of the National Confederation of Labor (NCL) said Malacañang’s declaration last April 19 that Duterte will no longer issue an executive order to stamp out contractualization was the last straw, after the President made the working class wait for almost two years to fulfill his campaign promise.
“Laborers having composed the majority that elected him to office are not merely frustrated with the administration’s inaction but are infuriated by this betrayal,” said Arellano, a veteran labor leader.
Arellano insists that, Duterte and Labor Secretary Bello’s spin masters cannot take the workers for fools by claiming to have ended contractualization by outlawing “endo,” or short-term, five-month contractual work through department order 174.
“How could they claim to have ended contractualization when the conditions in our work have not altered?” he asked.
The WAC believe that the regime’s crackdown on “cabos,” or fly-by-night labor-only contractors will not put an end to the systemic abuse inflicted by “permanent contractual employment” and “regularization in manpower agencies” under DO 174 adding that the crackdown is a mere stunt.
“The existence of “cabos” is not the entirety of contractualization. In fact, “cabos” are no longer the dominant practitioners of contractualization. Hence, Duterte’s macho posturing, what he calls “Tokhang Cabo,” is a farce, for “cabos” hardly exist nowadays,” they explained.
“Essentially contractualization persists because of the existence and legalization of third-party service providers in the form of manpower agencies, labor cooperatives, and independent contractors. Through DO 174, they act as modern slave traders licensed to facilitate the lease of laborers to companies and earn by getting their cut from the workers’ meager individual salaries.”
They further stressed that contractualization has systematically condemned workers and their families to a lifetime of destitution and blackmail, having to sell their labor at starvation wages with little or no benefits, crippling their upward mobility.
“We have no other recourse but to continue pressing. Duterte’s betrayal not only inspired us to unite but emboldened us to continue the struggle be it in Congress or in the parliament of the streets until we are no longer deprived of our rights,” Arellano disclosed.
The WAC is an alliance composed of Association of Genuine Labor Organizations (AGLO), Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), Solidarity of Unions in the Philippines for Empowerment and Reform (SUPER), Metro East Labor Federation (MELF), National Confederation of Labor (NCL), Associated Trade Unions (ATU), National Federation of Labor (NFL), Katipunan ng Samahang ng mga Manggagawa (KASAMA), Katipunan ng Makabayang Manggagawa (KMM-KATIPUNAN), Legal Advocates for Workers Interests (LAWIN), National Union of Builders and Construction Workers (NUBCW), United Filipino Service Workers(UFSW), SOCIALISTA, Workers for Peoples Liberation (WPL), and Worker Advocates for Social Transformation Organization (WASTO).
Meanwhile, the BMP, a socialist labor group and WAC convernor, declared Duterte as an “Enemy of the Working Class” due to his flip-flopping and actions that led to the spiraling prices of commodities, burdensome taxes, and increasing unemployment figures.
“The gloves are off from now on. Having waited for years to fulfill his promise, his strongly-worded pronouncements against the abuse of employers and invitations to hold dialogues were all good-for-nothing,” declared BMP President Luke Espiritu.
The BMP says that the president displayed his true loyalties by siding with abusive employers in their employment schemes to profit out of their labor.