By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
The Senate on Wednesday finally gave its nod to the bill ending the practice labor-only contracting, or “endo.”
Voting 15 for and none against, senators approved on third and final reading Senate Bill 1826, which seeks to strengthen workers’ right to security of tenure and amend provisions of the Labor Code.
The bill was certified urgent by President Duterte, allowing senators to do away with the three-day legislative rule after passing measures on second reading.
Senator Joel Villanueva, chair of the Senate labor committee and sponsor of the bill, expressed elation following the approval of his pet bill.
“We longed for this day to come, especially our workers who have suffered because of the evils of endo, a practice which corrupts the dignity of labor,” Villanueva said, thanking his colleagues for supporting the bill.
“We want to give all workers peace of mind when it comes to their employment status, that no worker can be dismissed without just or authorized cause, and due process. We listened to the concerns of various stakeholders and took these into account in putting together this bill. We believe this measure protects the interests of all parties concerned,” he added.
SB 1826 prohibits the practice of labor-only contracting and limits such to licensed and specialized services.
Under the proposed measure, labor-only contracting exists when:
- The job contractor merely supplies, recruits, and places workers to a contractee.
- The workers supplied to a contractee perform tasks/activities that are listed by the industry to be directly related to the core business of the contractee.
- The contractee has direct control and supervision of the workers supplied by the contractor.
Under the proposed law, contractors should obtain a license from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to be able to engage in job contracting.
Villanueva said requiring contractors to secure licenses would allow the DOLE to scrutinize their capacity to adhere to existing labor laws and regulation and gauge their ability to provide for their employees.
Aside from this, the bill also specifies the classification of workers: regular, probationary, project, and seasonal.
Project and seasonal workers have the same rights as regular employees like the payment of minimum wage and social protection benefits, among others, for the duration of their employment, the bill proposed.
“The provision trims down the employment arrangements and addresses the current practice of misclassifying employees to prevent them from obtaining regular status,” Villanueva explained.
Also, a mechanism would be established for industry tripartite councils to determine roles that can be outsourced. This shall serve as a venue for stakeholders—government, employee representatives, and industry bodies—to discuss and determine jobs which can be contracted out to a job contractor.
The industry tripartite council may set a positive or negative list of functions or task that are or are not directly related to the principal business.
Having an industry-determined listing will help minimize disputes among employers and affected workers, Villanueva said.
Other senators also lauded the chamber’s approval of the Security of Tenure bill.
Sen. Bam Aquino said the passage of the measure helps workers and families in their fight for “just” working policies.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros, meanwhile, gave credit to progressive groups for pushing for an end to “endo”.
“This bill is not a gift of the Senate to labor union and workers. It is a gift of the labor movement to our countrymen,” Hontiveros said in Filipino.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, meanwhile, assured that the bill “will not be detrimental to industries” adding that its is “industry-friendly.”
With their six remaining session days, Villanueva said he remains optimistic that the measure will have just enough time to be tackled in the bicameral conference.
“The next phase of our struggle for the security of tenure bill is in the bicam. We are determined to pursue this, especially that this measure has been certified urgent by the President,” he said.
SB 1826 was authored by Villanueva, Aquino, Hontiveros, Zubiri, and Sens. Koko Pimentel, JV Ejercito, Grace Poe, Loren Legarda, Richard Gordon and Senate President Vicente Sotto III.