DOLE to start shutdown of ‘endo’ firms
(The Philippine Star) - October 4, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) will start shutting down this week firms engaging in “endo” – short for end-of-contract or labor contractualization.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said yesterday the closures might start before he leaves for Oslo, Norway on Thursday, as he has directed all DOLE regional offices to implement the shutdowns soon.

But the business community is complaining that it has yet to receive a clear definition from DOLE on what constitutes the end-of-contract scheme.

Business groups said they see no problem with the closures, as long as the government defines its terms.

“We have always said that endo is illegal, and we support the government on that,” said Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr., honorary chairman of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and president of the Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. “But our question is what is really the definition of endo? A lot of people in DOLE are saying different things. So, our problem in the business community is what really is endo?”

Bello said he had told a number of big companies employing some 7,000 endo workers to comply with labor regulations or face immediate closure.

“I am issuing a warning to these big companies that I will cancel their license to operate if they fail to comply with the regulations against contractualization,” Bello said.

In mid-August, the labor department gave the businesses a month’s moratorium, for them to cease from illegally contracting workers and comply with labor regulations.

Bello said the one-month moratorium was also for employers to learn the difference between illegal labor-only contracting and contractualization.

Employers Confederation of the Philippines president Donald Dee said businesses that are in the midst of adjusting, though beyond the DOLE’s one-month moratorium on contractualization, should be exempted from the forced shutdown.

“We don’t mind if they close down those practicing endo, but for those who are transitioning, let them finish, as long as they are already doing it,” Dee said.

Laborers reject DTI proposal

Bello consulted with labor groups yesterday to hear their positions on new policies the DOLE is now drafting to put a stop to illegal contractualization.

Last week, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) submitted a proposed “win-win” scheme to address the endo problem. But labor groups strongly rejected the proposal, which they claimed is pro-employer.

Labor leader Alan Tanjusay said labor groups are one in rejecting DTI’s proposal.

Tanjusay insisted that workers would only agree to regularization of all endo workers.

Bello said the government is so far on track with its target to reduce endo by half by the end of 2016.

“Based on our records, almost 10,000 endo workers have been regularized by their principal employers, so that is about 20 percent,” he said.

DOLE also said there are now 5,150 registered contractors and subcontractors deploying more than 416,000 workers to not less than 26,000 principals.

Rally for higher wages

Meanwhile, militant groups are set to stage a protest rally on Oct. 8, Saturday, to demand fulfillment of President Duterte’s promise of change on his 100th day in office, such as higher wages for workers.

Arman Hernando, program officer of migrant group Migrante, said overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families are joining the rally to mark Duterte’s 100 days in office.

“The rally is calling for the fulfillment of the People’s Agenda for Change crafted at the start of the Duterte administration,” Hernando said. “Groups are pressing the administration to implement much needed socio-economic reforms in keeping with the President’s promise of change.”

He said Duterte’s promise to raise workers’ wages and end contractualization has yet to be realized.

Migrante, he said, is supporting calls to implement a P750 per day national minimum wage to significantly reverse the migration trend among Filipinos.

“If this is legislated, for every year, around 200,000 workers will opt to stay and contribute their labor and skills for nation-building while living decently with their families,” Hernando stressed.

He said OFWs who are receiving a basic salary of $400 or $500 a month would prefer to work locally because the income in the country would be at par with the meager pay they receive abroad.

Quoting data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, Hernando said the country deploys annually at least 200,000 workers to job positions with salaries ranging from $400 to $500 a month.

He said most of the Filipino household service workers (HSWs) and general laborers deployed to the Middle East receive a monthly pay of $400 and 1,500 Saudi riyals, respectively.

He said the Duterte administration must provide local employment and higher wages soon, so Filipinos won’t leave the country just to earn decent income.

“To President Duterte, now is the time to use your might and wield your powers for the upliftment of people’s lives,” Hernando said.

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