Will the estimated 9,000 employees affected by the 291 “end of contract” or endo cases become regular employees or not?
The affected employees of these pending endo cases at the Department of Labor in Central Visayas (DOLE-7) will soon know the answer to these question once a task force is formed to quickly resolve these cases.
“Right now, we are getting more pending cases so we have to dispose of them as quickly as possible,” said Director Exequiel Sarcauga of DOLE-7 during the 888 News Forum on Tuesday.
Sarcauga said that these are 32 direct-hire and 259 agency-hire cases.
Sarcauga said the task force will be composed of hearing officers, legal officers, himself, and his assistant regional director.
He added that they will “sit down” to review decisions together so they can come up with similar case presentations.
Should the agency be able to resolve these cases and prove that the concerned firms are practicing labor-only contracting, 437 direct-hired and 8,399 agency-hired workers will be regularized.
He said most of these workers are employed in resorts, hotels, restaurants, and malls, which are among the priority industries of DOLE alongside manufacturing and Information Technology-Business Process Management (IT-BPM).
Sarcauga said they target to dispose of more than 50 percent of the office’s pending labor cases within March this year.
Labor-only contracting, a prohibited act, is defined as an arrangement where the contractor or subcontractor merely recruits, supplies or places workers to perform a job, work or service for a principal.
Among the marching orders President Rodrigo Duterte gave upon assuming office as well as one of his campaign promises was to end contractualization in business establishments in the country.
The President’s camp, however, clarified that they would not be eliminating contracting per se, but that which is prohibited by law.
Duterte was referring to the “end of contract” scheme (colloquially known as endo) practiced by several companies wherein contracts with workers are routinely ended on the fifth month to avoid having to regularize their employees.
Nationwide, the DOLE targets to fully eradicate this scheme by December 2017.
According to data from the Bureau of Working Conditions as of May last year, there are 5,150 regular contractors and subcontractors with 416,343 workers deployed across 26,194 principals in Central Visayas alone.
So far, Sarcauga said at least 100 companies employing around 3,500 employees in the region have voluntarily committed to comply with the government’s drive to end prohibited contractualization.
The labor official, however, admitted that the problem just can’t be addressed immediately because the government is still looking for a win-win scenario both for the management and labor sectors.
The labor sector wants to prohibit all forms of contracting, but businessmen bucked this proposal on the premise that there are jobs that need to be carried out on a contractual basis.
President Duterte reportedly met with labor groups on Monday, Feb. 27, to discuss a compromise on the solution to the “endo” scheme.
Lawyer Jonas Asis, regional vice president of the Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP), said that Duterte was “inclined” to certify as urgent House Bill No. 4444 or an act prohibiting contractualization and all its forms.
“He will not certify it as urgent yet, but he is inclined to do so. We hope this will really push through so the bill can move forward,” he said during the same news forum on Tuesday.
HB 4444, filed by TUCP Party-list Rep. Raymond Mendoza, prohibits all fixed-term contracts and criminalizes violations.
Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) past president Philip Tan, for his part said employers are bound to follow what is provided by the law.
However, he said a “win-win” situation must be reached for both labor and management.