Union members in Philippines rally to end contractualisation

Members of the Federation of Free Workers joined the protest at the Senate demanding end to precarious work.

Hundreds of members of the Nagkaisa! Labor Coalition, including members of BWI affiliates the Free Federation of Workers (FFW), National Union of Building and Construction Workers Union (NUBCW) and Associated Labour Union (ALU) rallied outside the Philippines Senate in Manila on Tuesday 6 July, demanding the swift implementation of legislation to end contractualisation.

Under current Philippines labour law workers can be contracted for up to six months then terminated, while never receiving the benefits that regular workers get such as social security, unpaid level or contributions to the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation.

“Contractualisation was at the core of Duterte’s bargain with working people, and workers are growing concerned with delays”, said BWI Regional Representative Apolinar Tolentino. “We hope this Bill has a quick passage through the Senate so we can end precarious work in the Philippines and millions of exploited workers can take control of their lives again.”  

Pressure to implement the “Security of Tenure Law” has grown swiftly on the back of the workers at food conglomerate NutriAsia popular struggle for regularisation; it has grabbed headlines after security forces violently disbursed protesting workers.  In addition, a recent reinstatement order forcing a group of hotel workers struggling for regularization to return to their jobs has underscored the sense that the contractualisation issue was not being taken seriously by the Government.

In solidarity with these workers and many others, the FFW members chanted #TrabahongRegular (“Regular Work”) and called for justice for the NutriAsia workers. 

“The violence at NutriAsia is a direct result of contractualisation”, said FFW Attorney Sonny Matula, chairperson of the Nagkaisa! Labor Coalition. “The law on security of tenure should be enacted to prevent employers from circumventing and defying lawful orders for regularization and enable the DOLE to effectively enforce laws.”