Labor calls on gov’t: Stop mass layoffs, ensure job security

Published November 30, 2020, 4:00 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The government should put a stop to mass layoffs after some companies have allegedly taken advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to terminate regular workers, a labor group said Monday.

The Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) has proposed to the government to implement instead stringent measures to ensure employers would not undermine the workers’ job security during the pandemic.

The labor group is among the organizations that launched protest actions demanding better job security, health care, among others, for workers during the commemoration of Bonifacio Day Monday.

“Employers have been taking advantage of the current crises by terminating their regular workers and unionists and replacing them with contractual workers,” BMP president Atty. Luke Espiritu said.

“The DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) must declare an immediate moratorium on mass-layoffs. They must impose stricter regulations and verification processes to ascertain that companies are not just exploiting the economic crisis to undermine security of tenure and unionism,” he said.

The labor group also voiced opposition to the House Bill No. 7036, or the so-called security of tenure bill , which only supposedly seeks to legitimize the practice of contractualization. It expressed concern for the plight of contractual workers, saying employers use third-party service providers to rescind from their obligations to regular workers.

“What we need is not a stricter definition for legitimate contracting nor to impose higher penalties for labor-only contracting, which is now prohibited by the Labor Code, but to abolish this anti-labor practice altogether. We demand an end to all forms of contractualization,” Espiritu said.

Other labor groups have also called for a stop to the alleged harassment of trade unions and red-tagging of activists as well as pushed for the repeal of the country’s anti-terror law, improved safety and health for workers, resumption of operations of provincial buses, during Bonifacio Day.

The Pagkakaisa ng Uring Manggagawa (PAGGAWA) coalition was among the groups that held a Bonifacio Day rally in Mendiola, Manila. Other multisectoral groups held rallies near the University of the Philippines in Quezon City

“The labor movement must realize the narrowness and limitations of craft-level and localized trade unionism, which could not fully address the ravages of the pandemic, recession, fascist attacks against trade union and human rights, and climate-induced disasters,” PAGGAWA spokesperson Leody de Guzman.

“Hence, PAGGAWA has collectively resolved to fight for a comprehensive overhaul of state policies and laws in order to protect the rights and welfare of the working class and their families,” De Guzman added.

Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) also called for the government’s accountability for alleged criminal negligence in dealing with the pandemic, economic crisis, and calamities that hit the country this year.

The group criticized the government for its alleged “ill-conceived militaristic measures” which supposedly made things worse for the country. The country’s jobless workers have reportedly reached 27 million during the pandemic, KMU said.

“In the tradition of Bonifacio’s militant struggle against oppressors, we are united here today. Our message is clear. We have had enough! Enough of the red-tagging and violations of our rights. Enough of the dismissal of our needs and concerns,” KMU chair Elmer Labog said.

A group of business process outsourcing employees has also denounced the labor department for allegedly being the “Grinch who stole Christmas’ when it allowed companies to provide prorated 13th month pay as well as extend the floating status of workers.

“At the onset of the pandemic that started sometime in March this year, thousands of BPO workers were either laid off, forced to file for a leave of absence or placed under floating status. We were expecting that DOLE will share the same sense of urgency by swiftly addressing these issues. But the other side of the coin is their policies and guidelines made it worst,” Mylene Cabalona, president of the BPO Industry Employees’ Network, said.