By Leslie Ann Aquino
A labor group said Department Order 174 a “major flop.”
The Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) said this is because instead of seeing an end to the exploitative practice of contractualization as it has promised, the DO issued by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello accomplished the opposite.
“The plight of workers has worsened,”Luke Espiritu, president of BMP, said in a statement.
He added that although the DO presented itself to empower workers by granting them the benefit of seeking an inspection from the labor department upon their request to check for violations of labor standards, this has only backfired against them.
Espiritu said inspections has only drawn retaliatory actions from the management of the questioned establishments.
The group cited the case of the employees of Pacific Plaza Towers (PPT) as an example.
“They filed a Petition for Certification Election and at the same time requested an inspection on the valid assertion that Polystar General Services, their former employer was a labor-only contractor. In response, building management refused entry of the labor inspector, pre-terminated the contract of fourteen employees under Polystar and three weeks later requested the DOLE office to hold an inspection when the employees where already retrenched,” BMP claimed.
The predicament of the PPT employees, the group said is closely similar to those of PLDT and DBSN Farms Agriventures, an exclusive poultry supplier of San Miguel Foods Incorporated in Albuera, Leyte, wherein they claimed that the employers abruptly terminated its employees after allegedly being discovered to have violated multiple labor standards including DO 174.
“What pains us most is not the retaliatory measures employed by the companies but their arrogant non-compliance of decisions favorable to workers and the lack of political will of the Labor department to enforce its orders and decisions,” said Espiritu.
He said the laborers lament that their faithful observance of the laws to redress their grievances and assertion of their constitutional rights has only left them faring much worse after the labor inspection.
The group foresees that litigious nature of this administration’s policies on ‘endo’ and the inaction of the Labor Department will inevitably lead to more labor unrest and disputes across industries nationwide as workers will continue to assert their rights.
Espiritu maintained that “If the Duterte administration does not address these loopholes and allow the status quo of rampant labor rights violations and squalid sweatshop conditions, workers will have no other option but to wield its remaining weapon in its aresenal – the right to strike”.