In the heat of today’s morning, over 100 workers belonging to the Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) staged a re-enactment of Christ’s passion on the cross in Mendiola to dramatize the continuing suffering of precarious workers. During the re-enactment, Kristong Manggagawa was seen bearing his cross representing contractualization and other forms of precarious work while Roman soldiers, representing corporations, are flogging him.
“It is clear that outsourcing and contractualization is the labor policy of the Aquino administration. After all, Malacañang allowed the massive outsourcing of regular jobs in PAL, which will lead to the termination of some 2,600 regular workers and shift them as contractual workers,” Edwin Bustillos, APL Deputy Secretary General said.
“Contractualization and other forms of precarious work consigns many of our workers to poverty, while it provides windfall profits for corporations,” added Bustillos. Precarious work is a harmful system where workers’ constitutional right to security of tenure is constantly and progressively undermined through various work arrangements that are devoid of any tenurial rights. It comes in many names: outsourcing, contracting-out or subcontracting, casualization, contractualization, contingent or fixed-term contracts, etc.
The relationship between poverty and deepening inequality, and the growth of precarious work in rich and poor countries alike, has been well documented. This happens not only because precarious workers are paid less and are provided with minimal benefits, if any, but more so because the widespread use of precarious employment weakens trade unions, which then prevents workers from bargaining for a better deal.
“For far too long, workers are the ones sacrificed before the altar of ‘development’. Now, using the mantra of ‘competitiveness’, workers are being asked to endure more suffering as employers call for more labor flexibility,” APL cross-bearers bemoaned.
The Philippine Development Plan for 2011-2016 calls for increasing the country’s competitiveness ranking using the World Bank’s Doing Business Index that promotes more labor flexibility measures.
“It is time that we pass the Security of Tenure bill,” Bustillos declared. “This is one of the best antidotes we have against outsourcing and contractualization,” he added.
The Security of Tenure bill seeks to strengthen the workers’ constitutional right to security of tenure by plugging the loopholes in the Labor Code that allow employers to get away with labor-only contracting, despite being prohibited by existing laws, and abuse subcontracting arrangements to intimidate workers from exercising their rights, including their right to form unions. The Security of Tenure bill, which has been pending in Congress since the 13th Congress, is a priority bill of the 15th Congress.