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15 Senators shed hope for millions Endo workers by passing 21-year old Anti-Endo Bill

By ALU-TUCP
May 23, 2019

QUEZON CITY The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) lauded the Senate for displaying great political leadership and the highest standards of legislative independence, when it passed on second and third reading Wednesday night, the historic Senate Bill No. 1826 or the 21-year old "The Security of Tenure Bill".

"Fifteen senators shed hope to millions of endo workers nationwide. TUCP and the Nagkaisa Labor Coalition are overjoyed that notwithstanding a fierce lobby opposing the passage of SB 1826, led by employers, agency contractors and the joint foreign chambers of commerce, the Senate passed the measure that will begin the process of finally ending contractualization and "Endo" (end-of-contract) employment," said TUCP President Raymond Mendoza.

"By a vote of 15-0, the Senate also brushed aside the apprehensions and objections made by Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez that the Bill would negatively affect the economy and was contrary to the interest of management flexibility. We remind Secretary Dominguez that TUCP also respects management flexibility, but it must be consistent with the Constitutional rights of workers, the right to security of tenure, the laws and the higher goals of building decency and fairness in a society faced with growing income and social inequality," said the TUCP President. "By helping President Duterte meet his campaign vow of ending contractualization, all of us are actually building a socially inclusive country and strengthening genuine grassroots democracy," said Mendoza.

"Much credit should be given to Sen. Joel Villanueva, the Chairman of the Committee on Labor and the principal sponsor of the bill who patiently and carefully built the coalition of Senators who passed the measure by a vote of 15-0 tonight. He converted potential oppositors into allies by showing them the reasonableness of the bill that the needed first step to putting a stop to "ENDO" is not to ban contractualization per se but to go after contractors and agencies who do not actually directly have workplace control over the workers they place in firms. Further, the bill only serves to regularize those workers from agencies who are actually doing jobs directly relayed to the principal business of the firms they are deployed in. And finally, it deems agencies that are merely recruiting and deploying workers, irrespective of their capitalization or equipment, as being engaged in illegal labor-only contracting," explained Mendoza.

"We understand that several Senators led by Senator Joel Villanueva walked out of a private briefing being given in the Senate by the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce who were scare-mongering legislators as to the economic impact of the Security of Tenure bill. We also recognize the leadership of Senator Vicente Sotto III and Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri in resisting the attempted derailment of the bill by certain parties," added Mendoza.

"Kudos also goes to Senators Nancy Binay, Grace Poe, Rissa Hontiveros, Franklin Drilon, Ralph Recto, Loren Legarda and Cynthia Villar who contributed their great moral persuasive powers to helping right the historic wrong of epidemic-scale contractualization. TUCP must pay mention of outgoing Senators Bam Aquino and J.V. Ejercito, who stood with the workers from the very start and leave this Congress with great honor for serving our nation nobly," said Mendoza.

"There are easily 15 million contractual and "Endo" workers in our workforce. The bill will incentivize workers to higher labor productivity by regularizing huge numbers of them. It will cut down production costs by doing away with 'Labor-only' or 'Cabo' contractors whose financial services charges add 15% to the labor costs of employers utilizing such agencies. It will reduce training costs for firms who are constantly refitting a new workforce as they phase out workers whose "Endo" contracts have run out. It means having an experienced and loyal workforce for employers treating their workers fairly. After all, our labor market model should not be sweatshop countries like Bangladesh. By equipping our workers with world-class labor standards, we help our workers make world-class products, "Mendoza said.

Endo workers are thriving in the services sector such as hotels, restaurants, resorts, repair shops, malls, supermarkets, security agencies, offices, transport, and logistics. Followed by agriculture and manufacturing industries.

"We understand that in a caucus requested with the Senators by the Department of Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez prior to the vote, Secretary Dominguez expressed opposition to the House version of the same measure, which the House passed overwhelmingly 2 years ago by a vote of 177 - 8. It is apparent that Secretary Dominguez was openly hinting that the Department of Finance actually looks on the Security of Tenure initiative with hostility. We still fear that DOF Secretary Dominguez will move to kill the worker's bill as it goes to the Bicameral Conference Committee next week," said TUCP Vice President and Nagkaisa co-convenor Luis Corral. "We trust however that both the Senate and House panels will keep the faith and uphold the workers' interest who universally wants to see the end of contractualization which is really a modern form of slave labor," he added.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte certified the Security of Tenure bill last year as an urgent administration bill, even as he said, that only Congress, not the President, could put an end to contractualization. In the 2016 polls, he promised to put an end to contractualization of workers in "months". In both his 2018 and 2019 Labor Day Address President Duterte has called on Congress to pass the Security of Tenure bill. "It has been the great unmet promise of his 2016 Presidential campaign. Before the end of the 17th Congress, we pray that it is realized substantially through the enactment of this new law," said Corral.