Press Release
November 10, 2009


Putting an end to contractualization is key to improving the quality of the standard of living of millions of contractual Filipino workers, not to mention a big boost to government revenues, opposition Sen. Chiz Escudero said yesterday.

"The welfare of the Filipino worker cannot and must not be sacrificed in the name of progress. Walang saysay ang paglago ng ekonomiya kung patuloy nating babaliwalain ang kapakanan ng ating mga manggagawa," Escudero said.

The opposition lawmaker said the constitution recognizes the importance of labor as a "primary social economic force" and promotes the protection of the rights and welfare of workers.

"Unfortunately, contractualization continues to be the norm among some private sector entities, citing the global economic crisis. Yet we read about these companies earning billions of pesos in profits. How can the government reconcile this contradiction and not act on the issue of contractualization? Hindi patas at hindi tama," Escudero noted.

He explained that this regime of unequitable labor arrangements is easing out long-term jobs in favor of temporary and contractual employment. In most cases, workers get measly pay and no benefits.

Escudero said it was the government's duty, as enshrined in the constitution, to see to it that the rights and welfare of Filipino workers are protected.

"Ngunit ano ang nangyayari? Patuloy na pinaiiral ng ilang mga kumpanyang pribado ang contractualization at patuloy na pinapayagan ng pamahalaan ito. Kung hindi ang pamahalaan ang kikilos para sa manggagawa, sino ang kikilos para sa kanila?," he said.

"We hear of employees enticed to take optional retirement and then be replaced by contractual workers. And then we hear of these workers being forced to work beyond the mandated eight-hour workday without overtime pay. These are some of the unacceptable practices that prevail in the workforce today," the senator explained.

He said a contractual worker is usually hired for less than six months after which his services are terminated. The contractual worker cannot be immediately rehired by the same company, which is an affront to "tenurial security" that is provided for in the constitution.

Escudero said putting an end to contractualization is a concrete measure to improve the quality of life of Filipino workers because they will become eligible for social security and health benefits.

"Overtime pay, SSS, and Philhealth benefits are due a regularly employed worker. These are benefits that employers do not have to pay when they have a contractual workforce but which are otherwise supposedly stipulated in the Philippine Constitution," he said.

Putting an end to contractualization will also result in higher revenues for the government, the opposition lawmaker said.

According to the Department of Labor and Employment, there are about 17 million minimum wage workers in the country. There are about 297,614 registered contractual workers in the country.

"If all registered contractual workers were made regular employees, the government - particularly the SSS and Philhealth - can earn about P3 billion a year from contributions. This is coverage that will favor contractual workers," he said.

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