On 28 years of Herrera Law: youth party slams worsening ‘plague’ of contractualization

Friday, March 3, 2017

On the 28th year anniversary of the passing of the Herrera Law (Republic Act 6715), Kabataan Partylist strongly condemns the continuing contractualization policy spurred by the said law.

The groups slammed Duterte for his inaction on his vow to end all forms of contractualization and repeal all laws and policies thereof, and instead worsening the existing setup through DOLE’s Department Order number 168.

“The Herrera Law, passed during Cory Aquino’s term, has spurred the plague which is contractualization, which only promoted lower wages and unfavorable working conditions for our workers. And now, Duterte seems bent on retaining the worsening contractualization by kowtowing down to the interests of big businesses,” Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago said in a statement.

“Contractual workers are more vulnerable to attacks: they are not allowed to join unions which are supposed to be their primary weapon against attacks on their rights and welfare, and they do not have the benefits (health, social security, etc) that regular employees enjoy,” Elago added.

Contractualization is a labor scheme wherein workers are hired on a job-only basis. Under the law, workers working for a company for more than six months should already be made regular employees, and are entitled to benefits from the company. Contracts usually last for five months as a result. Thus, contractualization is more profitable for companies since they employ cheaper labor and they do not have to pay for their benefits.

Elago also hit on DOLE’s DO 168, which Secretary Silvestre Bello touts as a “win-win solution”.

“DO 168 changes the face of contractualization by employing workers under agencies and isolating them from the capitalist employers, washing the hands of the latter in giving lower wages and prohibiting their right to unionize and strike. It it the capitalists who are ‘win-win’ here,” Elago said.

“We condemn contractualization, the pressing down of wages and other neoliberal policies attacking workers and unions. In the name of profit, workers’ rights are being violated, workers’ basic needs are being neglected, and workers’ dignity is being attacked,” Elago said.

The youth party blames neoliberal policies for workers’ woes.

“In the hopes of attracting more foreign investment in the country, the government creates policies that make it easier for foreign companies to do business here. Capitalists are always looking for ways to maximize profit and they would be more attracted to do business in countries with lower production costs like cheap labor and raw materials,” Elago explained.

“And now, Duterte is bent in furthering the exploitation of our workers. Despite his empty promises to end contractualization, his neoliberal advisers in the cabinet are bent on ensuring profits for big corporations and foreign investors through their 10-point economic agenda. Even the labor dialogue at Malacanang last Monday yielded nothing much with the demand to end contractualization, as no replacement order to DO 168 was presented,” Elago said.

The youth party calls on the Filipino youth and workers to hold Duterte for his failure to abide by his promise of change, and for the people to intensify their struggles for the just demands of the people, especially the revocation of the Herrera Law and the criminalization of contractualization and other anti-worker policies.

“Twenty-eight years is enough! It is high time that Duterte attend to the just demands of the workers,” Elago concluded.

Kabataan joins youth groups and various sectors in trooping to DOLE today to protest the continued existence of the Herrera Law and the anti-worker contractual labor system. The youth party calls on the people to register their protest and mount big mobilizations, one of which is to be held on the International Working Women’s Day on March 8. ###