Solving âendoâ ills
The last point that needs to be underscored is the need to improve the quality of our workers. Company human resource officers categorize rank-and-file labor as skilled and unskilled, while those in the professional ranks are classified according to the level of expertise.
Solving ‘endo’ ills
BIZLINKS - Rey Gamboa (The Philippine Star) - August 13, 2019 - 12:00am

President Duterte’s recent veto of the controversial “anti-endo” bill that Congress submitted for approval into law in June does not mean that militant workers’ clamor is no longer valid, but neither does this mean that the position of the united employers’ rank will carry.

This is one of the more salient issues that Ed Lacson, who chairs the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP), pointed out to me during one of our chance meetings. In other words, he’s saying that nothing has been set in stone with regards the proposed Security of Tenure Act.

According to Ed, businessmen and prospective investors are still weighing the situation since vetoed bills in the past have been resurrected, gone through the legislative mill, and approved by Congress in almost the same form.

Ed pointed out that the labor sector may feel that the President has reneged on his repeated promise to end “endo,” but this is not the case especially with the issuance by the Department of Labor and Employment of DO 174 and by the President of EO 51, both of which have strengthened the ban on “endo.”

Since the DO’s issuance in 2017, more than 200,000 workers formerly going through the “endo” mill had been regularized. While labor groups may argue that DO 174 and EO 51 have introduced little to strengthen the Labor Code, the result had undeniably been stricter enforcement of labor laws, particularly against companies that try to avoid regularization of contract employees to save on cost.

Need for flexibility

As recent studies have indicated, labor behavior and management are going through significant changes, and uncertainties prevail especially with the expected advancement of artificial intelligence and the rising use of cyberspace for work.

More Filipino workers are now opting to do contract work, and while employers from more mature economies offer better paying jobs, local opportunities are fast catching up on the pay scale especially for work that require specialized skills.

In recognition of these trends, codification is recommended as a last resort since it would only introduce rigidity at a time when major changes are expected to occur. The signs are already apparent, one among them being the rise in online jobs.

In the same way, businesses are looking at new ways of working. Contracted work is going to be a major feature of the future’s work environment, where human resources can come from any part of the world.

Stronger enforcement

Meanwhile, to protect workers from abuses like “endo,” stronger enforcement is key. Seasonal jobs, which labor groups contend to be a position that is abused and subjected to unbridled discretion, can be better defined and justified, and abuses limited or totally removed.

Seasonal jobs, after all, are a reality. During the Christmas season, a department store will really need additional manpower to cater to an expected surge of customers. The same is true for a bookstore during school opening is at hand.

It would be suicidal for establishments to put seasonal workers on the regular payroll and give them salaries and benefits the whole year round when they are effectively productive and needed only for a couple of months a year.

On the other hand, a seasoned and committed regulatory office can easily spot positions in a company that really require full-time employees but are continually filled in by seasonal workers. This part of the enforcement routine is what must be strengthened.

The timely issuance of new DOs or EOs in areas of enforcement that need to be improved is the kind of flexibility that is needed to enable the Philippine labor force to improve and compete vis-à-vis the global competition.

Labor empowerment

The last point that needs to be underscored is the need to improve the quality of our workers. Company human resource officers categorize rank-and-file labor as skilled and unskilled, while those in the professional ranks are classified according to the level of expertise.

Many of those who enter the blue-collar job market with no work experience will often fail a six-month probationary period either because of a lack of discipline (exhibiting a high incidence of tardiness and absences) or a low absorptive capacity for improving on the job.

The best example for this would be in the construction sector, which has experienced a demand for workers in the real estate industry in recent years, and lately because of the government’s golden age of infrastructure program.

Recruitment departments of construction companies often complain of the unsuitability of blue-collar workers – masons, welders, machine operators, electricians – in project sites. The experience is worse with applicants who are not high school graduates.

Job mismatches and poor quality education

In the case of fresh graduates, among the reasons for their inability to readily get absorbed in the labor market would be job mismatches, and the poor quality of education resulting in being unsuitable for regular positions.

Many provincial colleges offer courses that are not synchronized with the job market, resulting in their graduates being forced to take on jobs that their education did not prepare them for. Diploma mills, on the other hand, will predictably churn out secretaries, for example, who do not have good communication skills.

While the above may seem detached from the issue of “endo,” a close look at the problems besetting labor unsuitability contribute to many workers not getting permanent positions in companies.

From experience though, workers and fresh graduates that show an aptitude for improving their knowledge are able to find better jobs and permanent positions in companies, or greatly improve their earnings by charging higher rates as self-employed contract workers.

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