Statement of the Commission on Human Rights welcoming the re-filed Senate bills that seek to end contractualization

Statement of the Commission on Human Rights welcoming the re-filed Senate bills that seek to end contractualization

A dignified, productive workforce is the lifeblood of the economy that sustains us all. As such, the Commission on Human Rights expresses its steadfast support for the passage of the Security of Tenure and End of Endo Act in the 19th Congress. We stand in solidarity with the enactment of laws, which aim to ensure the rights and well-being of every Filipino worker, especially within the context of post-pandemic recovery.

Senate Bills (SB) No. 130 and 398 authored by Senators Joel Villanueva and Joseph Victor G. Ejercito, respectively, targets to address the issue of contractualization in the Philippines, taking into consideration both perspectives of the worker and the employer through rigorous and comprehensive consultations. These follow after the initially vetoed draft of SB 1826 also authored by Senator Villanueva during the 17th Congress, which points out the need to balance the interests of all parties concerned. Such efforts to propose better measures that endeavor to address the concerns of sectors involved as well as ensure its relevance to current context and evolving times manifest genuine dedication to provide sustainable solutions to the labor sector.

Notably, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has endorsed SB 130 as the amendments it will introduce will simplify the “interpretation, implementation, and enforcement of the prohibition on labor only contracting and curb practices that circumvent the prohibition.” An important feature of the bill is the inclusion of industry tripartite councils, which shall determine jobs that are directly related to the principal business. This amendment will allow both the labor sector and employers to present their concerns. On the part of laborers, they will have the opportunity to voice their concerns as to why certain jobs are on contract basis. For employers, they will have the chance to present the realities of business operations as well as the rapidly changing technologies that may affect the nature of jobs. SB 398 also has a similar provision, which requires the recommendation of the National Tripartite Industrial Council to ensure that the conditions of legitimate contracting are met.

The Commission is hopeful that the cited bills will be consolidated to merge their best features and provisions toward upholding the workers’ rights while also ensuring that businesses will continue to thrive. The need to end the cycle of intermittent contractual jobs is long overdue. All Filipino workers deserve to be afforded security of tenure, humane conditions of work, and a living wage, while being able to organize and engage in peaceful concerted activities in accordance with law. As required by the Constitution, it is incumbent upon the State to guarantee workers of “full protection to labor, local and overseas, organized and unorganized, and promote full employment and equality of employment opportunities for all.” This will also be in accordance with Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which underscores every workers’ right “to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.”

To genuinely ensure inclusive growth during this period of recovery, we must constantly remind ourselves of the value of our workforce in sustaining our economy amid challenging and evolving times. We must be resolute in ending labor practices that are hugely disadvantageous to vulnerable workers who stick to exploitative jobs out of poverty or desperation. The urgent progress and consolidation of the cited bills are earnestly requested. At the same time, interim efforts to address labor issues, including contractualization, must continue. ###