Let government show compassion to JO workers
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - March 22, 2020 - 12:00am

Considering that the government keeps on reminding private sector employers to be compassionate with their employees, take care of their health, safety, and welfare, let me ask government a quite unsettling question: What are you doing for your job order workers? How do you take care of these human beings during the COVID-19 crisis?

Let government practice what it keeps on preaching by applying precisely what they mandate to all employers, whether large conglomerates and multi-nationals, medium-sized factories and plants, or small firms or micro enterprises. Let government lead by example by starting be compassionate to their own job order workers who stand to suffer from the “no work no pay” policy. Mayor Vico Sotto, in Pasig City, without much ado, and without telling the whole world (unlike what Yorme Isko is always wont to do), in his own silent and effective way, issued regular status to hundreds in Pasig City. Workers under the Eusebio political dynasty for over 20 years, gained salvation under Mayor Vico.

Now, since DOLE, and its inspectors have been issuing compliance orders to employers directing (not even suggesting or requesting) principal employers to absorb thousands of employees deployed by legitimate service contractors, why doesn't DOLE start to regularize all its job order workers? Secretary Bebot Bello himself admitted via national TV that DOLE has thousands of job order workers in the national head office, attached agencies, and bureaus and in the 17 regional offices, as well as the provincial and satellite offices of DOLE, NLRC, POEA, TESDA, OWWA, and the regional tripartite wage and productivity boards. So, why not start social injustice in its own backyard?

There are JO workers in Malacañan, the Supreme Court, Congress, Senate, all commissions, agencies, boards, and all sorts of councils and government task forces, and even embassies (called local hires) who don’t have job security, benefits, social insurance, PhilHealth, or Pag-Ibig. Government even has the temerity to say explicitly in their documents that there is no employer-employee relationship between the agency and the worker. This, to me, is hypocrisy in the worst form. I say that with due respect to all my friends in government. This is a slap on the face of the Civil Service Commission. Now, I challenge them to answer this directly.

Let’s go down to the LGUs. How about Cebu Province and Cebu City? How many JOs do you have? What are your plans for them? Do you consider them employees, and if so, what are your HR personnel doing to alleviate their conditions? Are the JO workers even included in your own total human capital development program? Are you merely using their labor and not thinking of their health, safety and welfare? Aren't they human beings too? If Vico Sotto can do something very monumental in Pasig, what can you do for the “least of your brethren”? Are they being treated as the “aliping namamahays” or “aliping saguiguilids”? Or, are they being nurtured as children of the same God?

I don’t want to insult or to unsettle the honorable men and women in high places in government. I am just a voice crying in the wilderness reminding political leaders, to practice what they preach. In this season of Lent, can there be salvation for these poor outcasts called JO workers?


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