Sponsorship Speech: HB 303 (Security of Tenure Bill)

Sponsorship Speech: HB 303 (Security of Tenure Bill)

Rep. Kaka J. Bag-ao

December 8, 2010 / Committee on Labor and Employment

 

The right to security of tenure is a sacred Constitutional right. It is embodied in Section 3, Article XIII of the 1987 Constitution which mandates that the State shall afford full protection to labor and declares that all workers shall be entitled to security of tenure. This right was also enthroned in our local legislation under Article 279 of the Labor Code.

Despite the protective mantle of the Constitution and existing statutes, this right is still the most frequently assaulted right of Filipino workers.

In the guise of broad management prerogatives, corporations are now given the liberty to indiscriminately lay-off a glaring number of its workers by the mere expedient of invoking subcontractualization.  Sadly, this is the current trend in the business sector.  Our Filipino workers are being made vulnerable to unnecessary and unscrupulous subcontracting.  At the risk of losing their bread and butter, they settle with intermittent and short term employments and content themselves in living on a mere hand-to-mouth existence.

As lawmakers, it is our duty to strengthen the protective walls around the hard earned right to security of tenure guaranteed by the Constitution.  To achieve this, we need a more defined and restricted procedure for subcontracting to ensure that the prerogative of the management to subcontract, as an aspect of property right, will be balanced with the right of the Filipino workers to security of tenure and to a decent living.  This is in keeping with the principle echoed throughout our laws that labor is not merely an economic factor and a means of production but is an integral part of the core of human dignity, and ultimately, the achievement of social justice.

House Bill 303, or the ACT STRENGTHENING THE SECURITY OF TENURE OF WORKERS IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR, while recognizing subcontracting as a valid business practice, is a viable step in regulating unjustified subcontracting.  It aims to achieve equilibrium where both the rights of the workers and employers are placed at the same degree.

The bill recognizes the existing mechanisms in our laws but introduces innovations to further strengthen the current framework of regulating the practice of subcontracting.  To ensure that the practice of subcontracting is not merely resorted to as a means of circumventing the law, the proposed bill limits the maximum number of employees to be subcontracted at 20%.  This will prevent the recurrence of indiscriminate lay-off of majority of the employees as a means to prevent regularization or to bust labor-unions.  This appalling practice is vividly illustrated by the current labor unrest in the airline industry where thousands of employees stand to lose their jobs on the pretext of subcontractualization and are now placed at the mercy of a ruthless corporation.

This policy will also curtail the common practice of corporations in spinning off all its departments and employing the retrenched employees in a dummy company owned by the very same corporation. Ultimately, this policy will deter the practice of companies in employing different seemingly valid acts which are in fact circumventions of the law to ensure non-regularization and exempt them from giving the full benefits under the Labor Code to regular employees.

In general, the bill seeks to institutionalize a contractual worker’s right to security of tenure. It likewise makes a clear delineation on what constitutes regular, casual and project employment in order to eliminate all conflicting interpretations on the matter and avoid deliberate misclassification which misleads the workers as to their rights.     Finally, the proposed bill also provides an affective procedure for the regularization of employees which will prevent non-regularization and compel companies to give what is due to its regular employees.

On a final note, employers, having the upper hand in the whole economic spectrum, should not be permitted to brazenly invoke the familiar excuse of management prerogatives to mask what is otherwise a clear violation of the Constitutional right to security of tenure. Clearly, while the manner of running the business is left to the discretion of the employers, the same does not mean that they are given the broad power to commit pernicious practices that abuse and infringe with impunity the rights of the workers. For, to allow the employers to do such sordid acts under the pretense of management prerogatives will ultimately cause the retrogression of our labor laws and will render naught the achievements of our forefathers in the advancement of the rights of the Filipino workers.  As emblazoned in our Constitution, labor is a primary social economic force and the rights and welfare of workers should be protected and promoted.

This being said, the immediate enactment of the proposed law could not be any clearer.

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