Abolish contractualization, end regional wages
The mass of Filipino workers will look back and remember 2019 as the year President Duterte’s famous promise to end “endo” died ignominiously.
With the stroke of his presidential veto of the security of tenure bill, Mr. Duterte shamelessly killed his pledge to abolish contractualization.
Ending endo became another victim of extrajudicial killing under the administration.
From the time Mr. Duterte vowed to end endo during the campaign period up to the eve of the presidential veto, millions of workers held on to the belief that those words would become deeds.
For four long years, the labor movement engaged with the government for the implementation of the promise. Through the twists and turns of the campaign against contractualization, labor groups kept up the pressure, only for Mr. Duterte to veto the bill.
On the eve of the security of tenure bill lapsing into law last July, Mr. Duterte heeded the employers’ call and betrayed his promise to workers.
Despite the veto, the labor movement should be relentless in the end endo campaign this year. But the anchor of the continued campaign will not anymore be Mr. Duterte’s broken promise, but the real movement of contractual workers demanding regularization.
In the last few years, labor unrest has been on the rise, with the number of strike notices and actual strikes increasing. A majority of these labor disputes are due to regularization.
Besides high-profile cases like those of NutriAsia, PLDT and Philippine Airlines, there are lesser known struggles by workers, such as those in the Sejung garments factory in Cavite and the ES Transport firm in Cubao, the issues of which include regularization.
Encouraged by the presidential promise of ending endo and the labor movement’s visible campaign, workers in these firms have not waited for the reforms from above, but instead are claiming their rights by action from below. It is upon these grassroots initiatives and struggles that the labor movement should base its campaign to abolish contractualization in 2020 and beyond.
Aside from the fight against contractualization, the labor movement should also open a new front in 2020 — the struggle to end regional wages. Mr. Duterte again made a promise — not as prominent as end endo — but a pledge nonetheless to stop “provincial rates.”
It is high time the system of wage fixing got fixed. We call on the government to abolish the regional wage boards and set up a National Wage Commission with the mandate to set a national minimum wage at the level of the cost of living, in consonance with the constitutional provision for a living wage. The fight for a living wage should begin in earnest this year.
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