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The Best Way to Commemorate Labor Day is to Protect Workers’ Rights – PIMENTEL

 

“The best way to commemorate Labor Day is to continue to work to protect the welfare of the Filipino Worker, who continues to be denied rights guaranteed by our Constitution.”

This according to Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, who on Labor Day reiterated the need to pass a law strengthening the prohibition against labor-only contracting, or what is popularly known as “endo,” or end of contract scheme.

Pimentel, author of Senate Bill No. 117, An Act Strengthening the Prohibition Against Labor-Only Contracting, said that while Article XIII, Section 3 of the Constitution says that “the State shall afford full protection to labor, local and overseas, organized and unorganized,” many companies exploit loopholes in the Labor Code to deny workers their constitutionally-guaranteed right to security of tenure.

“Despite the rights of workers under constitutional and labor laws, there are employers who wantonly circumvent labor laws through a system that is designed to prevent workers from attaining regular employment and security of tenure,” lamented Pimentel, who obtained his law degree from the University of the Philippines College of Law.

The gaps in the law are exploited, according to the former Bar topnotcher, “by terminating employment every five months and thereafter rehiring the same workers for the same duration.”

Aside from this, Pimentel added, employers also avoid the regularization of its employees by engaging the services of workers either from manpower cooperatives or placement agencies.

“These prevalent practices of labor contractualization,” stressed Pimentel, “have made it difficult for workers to attain the security of tenure guaranteed by the Constitution.”

Pimentel’s proposed measure would amend Article 280-A of Presidential Decree 442, so employees that have been rehired repeatedly “by the same group of companies, the parent and subsidiary companies, or by companies with interlocking directors” shall be considered regular employees from the date when they were first hired, regardless of whether such service is continuous or broken.

The senator from Mindanao said that he was hopeful that measures to end “endo” would be passed under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, who has spoken out repeatedly against labor-only contracting and has expressed support for legislation to end the practice.

In one of his first public statements after assuming the presidency, the Chief Executive warned employers to stop contractualization, as “it will not do good to our country,”

“Don’t wait for me to catch you because I will be unforgiving. If I find you out, I’ll just simply close your plant.”

Pimentel added that in addition to plugging loopholes in the Labor Code, efforts should also be made to increase penalties for violations of labor standards, particularly wage laws.

The Senate President also said that the Social Security System (SSS) should go “all out” in filing cases against employers who fail to remit the SSS contributions of their employees.

“One way we can encourage compliance with our labor laws is to make employers know that attempts to skirt the law will not be countenanced,” said Pimentel.

“We should let businesses know that when it comes to enforcing labor laws and standards, we mean business.”

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