Labor group thumbs down new security of tenure bill

Published December 3, 2020, 12:08 PM

by Leslie Ann Aquino

The Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino has thumbed down the new security of tenure bill that the House of Representatives passed on third and final reading on Dec. 1 junked.


The labor group said House Bill 7036 is no improvement from the version vetoed by President Duterte last year.

“It is even worse,” it said.

“Despite the addition of higher penalties and fines for erring employers, the new security of tenure bill rushed in the House of Representatives is no improvement from the version vetoed by President Duterte last year. In fact, it is much worse because it expands the scope of allowable fixed-term employment or ‘endo,’ which now include OFWs and ‘relievers’ who are temporary replacements of absent regular employees,” said BMP president Luke Espiritu in a statement Thursday.

According to the group, the most reprehensible feature of the new bill is that, despite its attempt to establish firm structures against labor-only contracting, it preserves and strengthens the legal status of third party contractors, which they aver is the most prevalent form of contractualization in the country.

“The bill regulates, and therefore allows, the contracting out of jobs to manpower agencies and service cooperatives that act as middlemen/third parties between a principal company and the worker. In this trilateral work arrangement, workers are deemed direct employees of these job contractors, even though their labor-power is directly consumed and profited from by the principal company. All the work and responsibility of a regular worker in the principal company is afforded them except the status and benefits of being one,” Espiritu said.

The group said that by sustaining the legal distinction between “legal” and “illegal” contracting (job contractor versus labor-only contractor) with clearer conditions and higher requirements, the bill only serves to retool and modernize the exploitative practices of manpower agencies and service cooperatives.

“These changes do not spell an end to contractualization. They merely seek to end primitive contractualization to pave the way for modern contractualization at a time when the third-party contractors can already afford to embrace modern means. HB 7036 virtually tells capitalists: ‘You don’t need to practice ‘5-5-5′ to keep your workers’ wages and bargaining power low. You can contract out their jobs to a middleman. But don’t choose the cheap and generic contractors. Choose the slicker, more expensive ones.’ HB 7036 dilutes the concept of security of tenure to compliance with these new minimum labor standards,” said Espiritu.

BMP said that the SOT bill in its current version would be another crippling blow to unions already struggling to survive the pandemic and recession.