By Leslie Ann Aquino
The Nagkaisa Labor Coalition on Thursday rejected the proposal of Probinsyano Ako party-list Rep. Jose “Bonito” Singson Jr. to extend the maximum probationary period for workers from six months to two years, saying it is an insult to the labor movement and the Filipino working class.
“This is an insult to the labor movement and the 44-million Filipino working class,” the group said in a statement.
The proposal, Nagkaisa said, is a derogation or an attack on security of tenure, which workers are entitled to after a period shorter than six months as guaranteed by existing laws, for more than 50 years now.
“It is an indecent proposal and contrary to the ‘Decent Work Agenda’ that the Philippines has committed to in its Decent Work Country Program with International Labor Organization to address social and economic exclusion, poverty, and inequality,” the group said.
Nagkaisa particularly took exception to the assessment of Singson, who filed House Bill No. 4802, that the current maximum six-month probationary period “is not a sufficient period in order for the employer to determine if the probationary employee is qualified for regular employment.”
“Our experience in the labor movement, to the contrary, shows that employers can regularize workers in as short as three months as their skills and capabilities would have been demonstrated by then. Filipino workers are skilled and trainable and are pre-qualified prior to employment. As such, they can even be considered regular on their first day of employment,” the group said.
Nagkaisa said Singson showed his “true colors” when he unabashedly justified the practice of endo, which they said is explicitly illegal.
“It’s as though employers are forced by circumstances to fire workers when they are in fact just circumventing the law. Now, he wants to practically legalize endo, prolong the hardships of workers and kill them with insecurity without accountability for two years. Probinsyanos, as with the labor force in the urban areas, want security of tenure,” said the group.
It added that training workers during employment is the principal function of employers and should not be passed on as an added burden to the worker as a requirement for regularization.
“Besides, the workplace should be the venue to acquire skills, talents, and additional qualifications,” Nagkaisa said.
The group also scored Singson for making the false assumption that the bill will be creating better job security for the average probationary employee.
“If this bill becomes a law, it would in effect legalize fixed-term employment of two years. Unscrupulous employers deliberately exploit the loopholes of the law. Instead of rewarding them by legalizing their unlawful practice, they should be criminalized by doing it,” said the group.
Should the bill even be considered by Congress over the Security of Tenure Bill, Nagkaisa said, it would sustain the turnaround of President Duterte, who vowed to end contractualization.