Philippine construction workers demand regular employment and union rights

19 July 2016 07:47

On Thursday 14 June 2016, 167 construction workers rallied in front of the office of their employer, Stages and Design Construction (SDC), demanding regular employment and an end to union busting. The workers yesterday sought justice at a labor mediation board, after their formation of a union and demand to be treated as regular workers resulted in their termination.

“This is backbreaking work, we don’t want to fade away as non-regular workers without retirement pay or pension benefits”, said 31 year old Melvin Aquino, an all-round certified carpenter who has worked for SDC for over a decade. “We have been building high-rise condominiums, malls and departments across Metro Manila all our lives, yet we don’t even have a house of our own.”

Last week, after the workers completed the process of forming a union and beginning to demand regular employment, "SDC, the building contractor for Robinsons and Waltermart malls, chose to ignore their right to freedom of association and terminate their roles", explained Gerard Seno, ALU-TUCP National Vice President. “This is an obvious attempt to keep living standards and quality of life down. Construction workers, deserve the same full wages and benefits of any regular worker.”

ALU policy advocacy officer Alan Tanjusay said they are optimistic President Rodrigo Duterte and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello would be faithful to their promise to curb the prevalent practice of contractualization work arrangement within six months.

“The common practice of contractual or temporary work in the Philippines is keeping a large segment of Filipino workers in poverty. The Philippine economy is booming and many businesses are doing well, however the wealth gap is getting bigger. The workers, the economy’s real wealth-creators, are not getting their fair share of the benefits,” said Tanjusay.

Note: Known as “Endo” or “555”, ‘End of Contract’ is a precarious work arrangement where workers are hired only for 5 months and are rehired for another 5 months to avoid regularizing workers to improve margin of profit.