Call to end of contractualization, passage of Security of Tenure Bill

This is a press statement from Akbayan as they call for end of contractualization, passage of Security of Tenure Bill on Labor Day

Akbayan Party today joined the traditional Labor Day march from Espana to Mendiola of the various labor unions under the banner of the newly-formed labor alliance named NAGKAISA! and called for the immediate end to contractualization of the labor force. The progressive group said that the continued erosion of labor rights coupled with the increase in prices of basic goods should be a cause of concern to the government and that it should immediately push for the passage of the Security of Tenure Bill.

According to Akbayan Representative Kaka Bag-ao, one of the authors of the Security of Tenure Bill, contractualization together with the increase of electricity and oil prices was pushing many working Filipinos deeper into poverty.

“Contractualization of labor has only pushed more and more Filipinos into poverty. Because these contractual employees do not enjoy the same rights as those of regular employees, such as the right to form and join unions and therefore participate in collective bargaining agreements, they are often subjected to abuses from their employers and are on the losing end of the deal,” Bag-ao said.

Stronger government regulation of oil industry pushed

Meanwhile, Akbayan Representative Walden Bello said that greater governmental regulation in the oil industry was needed to prevent price shocks caused by speculation from adversely reducing the purchasing power of Filipino workers.

“On top of the obvious need to eliminate the VAT on oil products, the government should also seriously consider government regulation and intervention in the oil industry. One way to do so would be to expand and modify the current fuel subsidy program of the government or the Pantawid Pasada Program from a 125 million peso program into a 500 million peso subsidy program with substantial changes,” Bello said.

According to Bello, a modified and expanded Pantawid Pasada program was necessary in order to ensure that the program would have an impact on the purchasing power of transport workers and in order to guarantee that the benefits would redound directly to the jeepney drivers.

“The current program is still not large enough to have a substantial impact on the income of our jeepney drivers because the subsidy given is very limited and is allotted to jeepney owners instead of the drivers themselves. The subsidy card should be reloaded every 3 months in anticipation of any fuel price increase. Also, a national ID system would be necessary to ensure that the cards would go directly to the jeepney drivers,” according to Bello.

Akbayan also proposed a fair price setting mechanism to determine the price of oil. According to Bello, “a fair price setting mechanism is necessary to ensure protection for consumers while guaranteeing moderate profits for these oil companies.”

“This mechanism would ensure that the huge profits enjoyed by these companies would return to the very consumers suffering from the high prices of oil products. It would be prudent for the president to form a committee with representatives from the government, consumers’ groups, and the oil companies, and three independent experts that would review and set a monthly price band and which would look into the books the oil companies to ensure that they are not making profits more than 2%,” Bello concluded.