Cebu groups echo call for end to contractualization
FOUR years ago, labor organizer Jefren Abalo quit his job as cement mixer in a Japanese firm at the Mactan Economic Zone (MEZ) 2 in Lapu-Lapu City.
He said he could no longer tolerate the contractualization scheme of the company.
As a casual employee, his contract was renewed every five months and he was not entitled to benefits nor security of tenure. He earned P327 per day, which was the daily minimum wage in Cebu at the time.
“The renewal of contract is every five months. But in the two years of working I was only renewed twice,” Abalo told Cebu Daily News.
He said the employees had organized themselves into a union and called for a certification election. That did not happen because the company filed for bankruptcy.
Abalo, an Associate in Computer Technology graduate, said he has not sought another job since then because he was discouraged by the rampant contractualization scheme.
Now, he sells “kakanin” to put food on the table. Abalo has a wife and two children to feed.
As an active member and organizer of Partidong Manggagawa in Cebu, Abalo was among the estimated 200 people who joined the march from Fuente Osmeña to Colon Street in Cebu City in observance of Labor Day yesterday.
Contractualization, or endo (for end-of-contract), allows employers to hire casual workers for less than six months without benefits. Under the Labor Code, an employee who is allowed to continue working after six months of probationary employment is considered a regular employee.
Contractualization has become an election issue, with all five presidential candidates vowing to eliminate it if they get elected on May 9.
Under this scheme, employers do not have to subsidize the premium contributions of their employees to the Social Security System, Home Development Mutual Fund and Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth). The workers are not entitled to a 13th month pay and other benefits given to regular workers.
Niño Olayvar, vice president of Anakbayan Cebu and regional coordinator of Kabataan, urged the government to stop contractualization.
He also pushed for a daily minimum wage of P750 nationwide.
“We are disappointed with the Aquino administration because these problems (contractualization and low wage) have not been addressed under his term,” Olayvar added.
Teody Navea, Sanlakas–Cebu secretary general, said the minimum wage should be based on the cost of living.
Navea said they will endorse a candidate who will adopt their seven-point program for regularization, climate justice, people taxation and budget, no corruption, farmers land and aid, democracy and comprehensive services.
Sanlakas has not endorsed any presidential candidate, but has expressed support for Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero.
The group is also endorsing senatorial candidates Dado Valeroso, Walden Bello, Neri Colmenares, Levi Baligod, Toots Ople and Lorna Kapunan.
Senatorial candidate Risa Hontiveros, who also joined the Labor Day march, said the bill providing security of tenure should be re-filed.
“At least 90 percent of a company’s workforce should be regular. Only 10 percent should be contractual like consultants,” Hontiveros said.
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