THE Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECoP) said it will sign an agreement with the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) for the voluntary regularization of workers at ECoP member companies.
In a phone interview with BusinessWorld on Wednesday, ECoP President Sergio Ortiz-Luis, Jr. said that the group will sign a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) by the end of this week.
“We are going to sign an MoA on Friday,” he said.
Mr. Ortiz-Luis added, “Basically, (the MoA) refers to the voluntary submission of regularization of companies… Instead of fighting it, we will voluntarily regularize.”
According to DoLE, the voluntary regularization plan will cover more than 3,200 establishments, most of them ECoP members, and will commence this month. The establishments involved employ an estimated 200,000 workers.
“As a start, between 30% to 40% of the workers of the pre-identified establishments will benefit from the plan,” DoLE Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III said in a briefing on Wednesday.
He added that the MoA the department will sign with the employers’ group is a significant development amid the government’s efforts to address illegal contractualization, which denies workers with sufficient tenure under the law a path to permanent employment and benefits.
“We consider this agreement a breakthrough in the campaign of the government to reduce, if not eliminate, the practice of contractualization in the country,” he said.
Mr. Bello also believes that ECoP will deliver on its promise, adding: “We are confident that ECoP will not enter this agreement without showing faithful compliance.”
For his part, DoLE Undersecretary Benjo A. Benavidez said that the regularization initiative of ECoP will help save time, labor, and effort on the part of DoLE .
“In this partnership, we put premium on the voluntariness of the regularized (…). With this, iniiwasan namin ang gastos at mahaba na proseso(we are avoiding costs and long processes),” Mr. Benavidez said in a briefing on Wednesday.
When asked what are the benefits of the voluntary regularization of the ECoP member companies, Mr. Bello said that the labor department won’t do mandatory inspections in the establishments for three years unless there is a complaint on labor law violations.
“On the part of DoLE, we will declare a moratorium on inspection. Our labor law compliance officers won’t visit them except if there is a complain,” he stressed.
On the other hand, some labor groups have expressed their doubts regarding the intentions of ECoP regarding their regularization plan.
Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) President and Congressman Raymond C. Mendoza said that ECoP will take advantage of the moratorium from DoLE
“We thus find it hard to trust and believe that this agreement between DOLE and ECOP will bring about regularization of contractualized workers become regular workers with their principal employers. We suspect this a way for some abusive employers to escape from labor inspection,” Mr. Mendoza said in a statement on Wednesday.
Nagkaisa Labor Coalition (NAGKAISA) Chairperson Sonny G. Matula also shares the same sentiments, adding in a statement on Wednesday “Clearly, in this case, workers are yet again the victims of their evil design. The mere act of signing with employers, behind the back of workers-an equal partner under the principle of tripartism and social dialogue-exposes DOLE’s betrayal of the workers.” — Gillian M. Cortez