CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 14 September 2019

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Labour contracting must go

MANILA (UCAN): As a new broom has come into Malacañang on the promise of defending the rights of the poor of The Philippines, Bishop Broderick Pabillo challenged the labour sector to put in a call for an end to temporary labour contracting, which is seen as being responsible for an up in the poverty level.

“Filipino workers must come together and set aside political ideology to ensure oneness of our voice and stamp out the practice,” the auxiliary bishop of Manila said on July 4.

He added that cooperation and close coordination is vital in providing a solution to the industrial practice of not renewing contracts after six months to avoid any buildup in workplace benefits.

Companies have been hiring through employment agencies and paying the minimum wage or less, without paid leave, health benefits, accident insurance, retirement or separation pay.

When a contract expires, people can only wait for another one or go to another agency.

The newly-elected president, Rodrigo Duterte, has vowed to stop the temporary labour contracting system, known as contractualisation.

“Contractualisation will stop. They have to stop it... It is an injustice committed against the Filipino people. I will not allow that as president of the country,” he promised during his election campaign.

On June 3, the Church-Labour Conference, an organisation of labour and Church groups, set out 10 recommendations on addressing the problems resulting from short-term labour contracting.

At a nationwide labour consultation it encouraged worker participation in the negotiation process and urged the government to deputise labour leaders to conduct inspections and provide reports on violations of labour laws.

It called short-term labour contracting the gravest threat to a worker’s right to security of tenure.

Bishop Pabillo said the recommendations aim to strengthen job security.

He called a five-month work contract with minimum pay a benefit only to business and not the worker.

“This labour scheme prohibits workers to organise themselves and create unions. It is important for a worker to be part of a union that ensures collective bargaining,” he said.

Labour secretary, Silvestre Bello, said the government under Duterte would not continue temporary contracting in the essential operations of businesses.

Bello said he is planning to require business to regularise the employment of 80 per cent of staff within three to six months of the new administration’s tenure.

The labour secretary went on to add that the government would also implement a verification system that will determine if workers are being cheated out of their job tenure.

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