The Duterte administration’s regularization order for fast food workers of Jollibee is only a publicity stunt, unless it is backed by concrete policies to prohibit and penalize all forms of contractualization.
Workers have the right to regular jobs; to fair wages and benefits; and to the freedom to organize, unionize, and bargain with their employers. But contractual workers are denied all these basic rights. That’s why the unjust, anti-worker practice of “endo” or contractualization is not something that should be merely regulated, or limited. It should be wholly and permanently banned.
In February, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) ordered Coca-Cola to regularize 675 employees. Similar orders were issued for nearly 8,000 PLDT workers in January. And this April, DOLE ordered Jollibee and Burger King to regularize 6,482 and 704 workers, respectively.
These developments can be attributed to the unceasing and legitimate campaign of workers, pressuring the government to uphold the right to regularization. KMU has supported all unions and workers who hold protest actions, pickets, and strikes against illegal dismissals and other violations of labor rights.
But none of the affected corporations have complied, so the DOLE orders are virtually worthless. The government has no mechanism in place for ensuring implementation; and indeed, often sides with the management of companies who refuse to regularize their employees. Instead of penalizing Coca-Cola and other corporations who violate the DOLE orders, the Duterte regime even sends police forces to disperse legitimate pickets and strikes.
These individual DOLE rulings, trickling out one after another over the past few months, are merely a ruse to make it look like the Duterte administration supports workers’ rights. In truth, Duterte openly refused to sign a draft executive order (EO) prepared by an alliance of labor groups intended to end all forms of contractualization. Signing that draft EO would have been an impactful and decisive move, proof of his determination to fulfill his campaign promise to workers, but Duterte rejected it.
Meanwhile, Duterte has announced that he will hold another dialogue with the labor sector on April 16. Duterte’s claim that he is “not empowered” to stop endo is patently false. If he can legitimize contractualization, as he has done for the past two years, then he can also end it. He controls both the executive and legislative branches of government through his appointees and allies and has managed to railroad a slew of anti-worker and anti-people policies, such as the Tax Reform Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law.
Workers have rightly lost faith in Duterte’s sincerity. DOLE orders and dialogues are not enough for the Duterte regime to claim that they are against contractualization. Without stronger actions from Duterte, these tactics must be dismissed as ploys to deflate the agitation of workers and derail preparations for May 1 protests.
We condemn the transparent attempts of the Duterte regime to feign opposition to contractualization, while in fact doing everything they can to legitimize and institutionalize it. We call on all workers to join the protest during the dialogue on April 16, as well as the major labor sector-led protest march on May 1. Both DOLE and Duterte have consistently obstructed the efforts of workers to end contractualization — it’s now up to all workers to claim victory in the organized mass struggle to fight for our rights.