VARIOUS labor groups gathered in Manila and other urban centers last Tuesday, Labor Day, to protest what they believed to be President Duterte’s failure to deliver on his campaign promise of putting an end to “endo” or end of contract, a contractualization scheme that offers short-term and unprotected temporary work arrangements.
But while restive workers were already out in the streets marching toward Mendiola near Malacañang Palace to vent their grievances, what they didn’t know was that Duterte, in the government’s commemoration of Labor Day, was signing in front of workers and employers as well as job applicants an executive order (EO) prohibiting illegal contractualization.
According to Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello, the new EO strictly prohibits illegal contracting and subcontracting, as well as acts that will circumvent workers’ rights to security of tenure, self-organization, and collective bargaining. The order also mandates the Labor Secretary to inspect establishments to check compliance with all labor laws, including the EO.
But Duterte conceded that his EO is not enough since Congress needs to revisit and revise the Labor Code, which he said was “outdated.”
Still, the EO represents a triumph for both sides: for Duterte, who finally delivered on his campaign pledge to put an end to “endo”, and for the workers, who got what they had long wished for.
All’s well that ends well, at least for now.
The bigger challenge, as we know, is enforcing the EO to benefit the working class while also protecting enterprises and employers.