Duterte’s SONA: What workers want to hear

On President Rodrigo Duterte’s first State of the Nation Address, Filipino workers want to hear concrete plans on how the new administration would fulfill its commitment to end contractualization in the country.

Particularly, we want to hear him announce immediate and actual measures to curb contractual labor such as signing an Executive Order regularizing all workers employed under contractual employment schemes for more than 6 months, junking of Department of Labor and Employment Order 18-A that institutionalized contractualization under the Aquino administration, and ordering the “super-majority” to prioritize the passage of the House Bill 556 or the Regular Employment Bill filed by Anakpawis Partylist.

We welcome the Duterte administration’s firm commitment to end “endo” or the 5-5-5 scheme. However, we also urge President Duterte to also ban all contractual employment schemes. Both the legal job contracting and the illegal labor only contracting should be banned as they both violate basic workers’ rights and subject workers to the worst forms of labor exploitation.

All forms of contractualization must stop. It has become very rampant in the country that more and more workers are becoming victims of these demeaning and unjust schemes. Independent think-tank IBON foundation estimates that four out of ten (43.5%) of rank-and-file workers are hired under various contractual employment schemes.

We also urge President Duterte to support Filipino workers’ clamor for the implementation of a National Minimum Wage of seven hundred and fifty pesos (P750) a day for private sector employees and sixteen thousand pesos (P16,000) monthly for government employees.

It is a just and achievable demand that would give immediate relief against the growing hunger and poverty among workers and their families. This will enforce a genuine national minimum wage in the country and bring existing legally-mandated minimum wage levels closer to the living wage.

The P481 minimum wage in the National Capital region, the highest wage level in the country, does not even come half of the P1,096 estimated Family living wage. Worse, most workers receive wages below the mandated minimum wage. According to IBON foundation, almost half (46.1%) of wage and salary workers earn below the minimum wage, 24.6% are able to receive the minimum wage, and only 29.4% receive higher than the minimum wage.

Tomorrow, Filipino workers will march to Batasan to urge President Duterte to address these pressing issues and demands in his first SONA. We will also show our willingness to support his administration in implementing pro-worker and pro-people reforms such as ending of contractualization and raising workers’ wages.