ANOTHER International Labor Day has come and gone. Another day of endless speeches about labor being the backbone of any economy. More promises made without first making good on last year’s pledges. And yes, more job fairs for the unemployed or underemployed.
Just another day in the life of a blue collar worker, whose only consolation this day, at least in the Philippines, is an additional amount for working on a holiday. Just another day of hoping that tomorrow will be better.
And hope is really all what a simple laborer has. Hope to the unemployed is finally landing a job which can provide for at least the most basic of necessities of life. To an OFW, hope is in the promise of finally coming home alive and well without the need to ever returning to an overseas job just to support a family back home. Hope to a Philippine laborer is putting all his children through school that they in turn will be able to support them as they grow old and become less useful to society.
Hope for a contractual laborer is finally being made a regular member of the workforce.
This hope, in the Philippines, was given boost with the coming of President Duterte with his promise to end contractualization in his first year in office. And in a way, the Labor Department was able to appease a small segment of this sector when it came out with guidelines for business contracts. But it has still fallen short of what employees, militant labor most especially, are after.
The problem lies in an old law which sounds good but in practice is a way to further trample on the rights of the lowly worker. It called on workers to automatically make a regular member of the staff any employee who has rendered six months of continuous work after being considered a trainee for any position.
However, such a scheme backfired as employers quickly learned that they do not have to keep an employee longer than five months at a time. This way, the employer will still cling to the letter of the law without penalty or sanction. Never mind the poor employee of course.
Contractualization, a term coined in the Philippines but hits employees anywhere the hardest. Through this, no worker is ever assured of staying employed. (At least in the Philippines, they are guaranteed of at least five months of work. In other countries, a worker can be sacked anytime for the merest of infractions.) With the contractual set up, no worker can aspire to climb up the so-called corporate ladder and become successful themselves. No, promotions are denied them together with all the perceived benefits attached.
There are many more unjust policies being practiced, introduced, and implemented by governments all over the world which keep employees subservient to the master-capitalists but contractualization is by far an evil which needs immediate solution, or at least sincere attention. But no government could enact laws that would guarantee security of tenure for blue collar jobs lest they run counter to the wishes of capitalists, and their promises of development and progress.