Youths mark Int’l Youth Day, assail contractualization for ‘killing’ their future

MEMBERS of the Alliance of Progressive Labor-Youth, on the occasion of today’s International Youth Day (IYD), launched their campaign against rampant contractualization by picketing several outlets around the country of McDonald’s – the global fastfood chain that spearheaded the use of contractual labor among the youth.

“This year’s observance of the IYD would be grossly inadequate unless it takes on the scourge of contractualization,” Marco Gojol, APL-Youth spokesperson, said, adding: “Now is the time to raise the collective voice of the youth against this pernicious tactic of unscrupulous employers.”

“Our action today should serve as a warning not just to McDonald’s but to all companies that are abusing workers through contractualization,” Gojol declared, as he informed that APL-Youth pickets will simultaneously be held in selected branches of McDonald’s in Metro Manila, Batangas, Cavite, Cebu, General Santos and Davao.

APL-Youth points to the corporate strategy of deliberate and unbridled contractualization as a major factor to the serious employment problem, including the youth sector, specifically those aged 15 to 24 years old, who, last April alone, already comprised over half (51.1 percent or 1.6 million) of the total 3.09 million unemployed workforce in the country.

Though still conservative, official data also confirm that the youth unemployment rate at 18.8 percent in the same period was already way beyond the national average of 8.0 percent.
The young activists slammed contractualization as a harmful and unjust practice that primarily benefits only the capitalist elites while most of the working people, including the working youth, are doomed to a “job” devoid of security, decent wages and other benefits, and where many labor and trade union rights are withheld.

Gojol emphatically described contractualization as killing the youth’s “chance to live and hope for a decent life and future.”

Contractualization is actually so pervasive not just in McDonald’s and other fastfood businesses but also in almost all types of industries, especially in the burgeoning services sectors of hotels, restaurants and in the business process outsourcing, particularly the call centers, where the 500,000 mostly young Filipinos currently employed here are the world’s second biggest BPO workforce behind India.

But while a study of the International Labor Organization released last month said that Filipino BPO workers “earn 53 percent more than same-age workers in other industries,” it also revealed that one in three workers resign every year due to extreme pressures from “odd (work) hours, irate clients, tedious workloads and (heavy) performance demand.”

A study in 2000 by a leading international research NGO using Philippine government data also showed that the “combined share of casual, contractual and part-time workers in total enterprise-based employment” had increased from 14 to 15 percent in 1990-94 to 18.1 percent in 1995 and to 21.1 percent in 1997, which meant that for every five workers at least one was a non-regular worker.

Another local research has even claimed that between 1995 and 2005, contractual labor in the Philippines has “soared from 65 percent to as much as 78 percent of the country’s employed labor force.”
Whether or not that is accurate, what is certain is that figures on contractuals have surely shot up when businesses in the country, led by large foreign and local firms, have been described as “going on an orgy of contractualization” following the Department Order (D.O.) No. 10-97 in 1997 of the Department of Labor and Employment that sweepingly legalized “flexible work arrangements.”

After widespread protests from organized labor, D.O. No. 10 was revoked in 2001; however all the contracts entered into during its effectivity were honored, and was replaced the next year by D.O. No. 18-02 which practically restored the repealed D.O.

“We are studying hard for a better future and our parents end up being heavily indebted to ensure that we finish our education. But what kind of future would a series of three to five months’ of work will give us?” Gojol asked. “Contractualization could give us nothing but disposable jobs!” he retorted.

The APL-Youth is challenging the Aquino government to generate secure jobs for all, especially for the working youth, and for jobs wherein workers are justly remunerated and their rights are fully respected.
The APL-Youth is also calling for the passage of the Security of Tenure bill, which has been lingering in Congress for more than a decade now.

APL-Youth is the youth arm of the Alliance of Progressive Labor, a national labor center of various workers’ organizations in the private, informal and migrant sectors. APL-Youth, composed of community-, school- and workplace-based teens and young adults ages 15-35, aims to unite and empower the youth sector and to link them with the labor movement and the broader social movements.

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