DOLE to help workers affected by ‘endo’ memo

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By Mico Agustin

LABOR Undersecretary Dominador Say has allayed the fears of workers who will be affected by a Department Order No. 174 earlier issued by Secretary Silvestre Bello III banning all forms of illegal contractualization and the so-called end of contract schemes.

In a statement, Say said the government has allocated a budget for this year for the provision of temporary assistance for workers who will be displaced as a result of the implementation of the memorandum.

“We will be ready para tumulong ng at least three months para sa mga maaapektuhan na mga empleyado” Say said.

(We will be ready to help for at least three months to all affected workers).

He also added that the government will also provide training for workers to retool and upgrade their skills, thus enhance their employability to other industries.

“Tutulungan namin silang ma-retool at ma-train ng ibang skills kung saan mayroong demand “ he added.

(We will help them to re-tool and train them with other skills for jobs who are in demand).

Those who will undergo training, he said, will be provided with allowance in the entire duration of the training, which will run for three months.

“We understand that they have needs especially with their families. So we are prepared to spend at least three months for their allowance while they are training,” he stressed.

 

Loopholes

The memorandum order was earlier subjected to a review following complaints that it contained loopholes as it was circumvented to allow various forms of contractual arrangements and end-of-contract schemes.

As a result, Undersecretary Joel Maglunsod was tasked to supervise a team of labor compliance officers composed of representatives from workers and employers sectors that will conduct inspections of more than 90,000 establishments to assure their compliance with existing standards and labor laws.

The team will directly report to Bello the results of their inspections and make necessary recommendations should they discover that some companies are violating the order.

The new DO also shortens the validity of the certificate of registration of contractors and subcontractors from three years to two. It likewise increases the registration fee from P25,000 to P100,000.

 

Criticizing 

Despite the initiatives of DOLE, many labor organizations still criticized and even rejected the order, quoting it was a ‘sad day for workers’.

“This will enhance cutthroat competition among contractors bidding down salaries and benefits of their employees,” the Labor coalition Nagkaisa said.

The Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines noted that some prohibitions, such as that on labor-only contracting were already prohibited by law.

Also, Kilusang Mayo Uno condemned the order, which it said would further legitimize the already widespread labor contractualization in the country.

But on the other hand, Bello said that he had no power to prohibit all types of contractualization and fixed-term employment.

“Based on the Labor Code, as amended, I have no power to prohibit all forms of contractualization and fixed-term employment. This matter is a function of legislation. While I have quasi-legislative power, I cannot, through rules and regulations, amend or supplant existing provisions of law,” he said.

The secretary of labor could only regulate contracting and subcontracting, Bello said.

He signed the new policy despite the opposing stands of labor and management groups.