Workers group challenges Duterte to fire pro-contractualization Trade Secretary

Socialist workers’ group Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) today called on President Rodrigo Duterte to fire his Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez.

Lopez has been defying and contradicting the President’s own campaign promise to end the practice of contractualization so the President must remove him from office if he is still serious about fulfilling his promise, BMP said.

The group was reacting to Lopez’s most recent statement saying contractualization will only scare away foreign investors.

“Since he assumed office, trade Secretary Ramon Lopez has consistently opposed measures to end contractualization,” the group noted in its statement.

“At every step of the way, Lopez has represented and defended not the interests of Filipino workers but of capitalists—Filipino and foreign. He fails the test that the President set because he wants to “add more to the abundance of those who have much” rather than “provide for those who have little,” the group added, quoting the President’s inaugural speech.

Expressing frustration at the lack of progress in eliminating contractualization, the group said the President needs to do more to demonstrate his commitment to workers by firing Lopez.

“This is an important moment for the President—another early test by forcing him to choose whose side he will take and whose interests he will protect.

If the President really cares about Filipino workers, if he really wants to “provide for those who have little,” as he said in his inaugural speech, then he should match his rhetoric with action and do what needs to be done: he should immediate fire those in his Cabinet who favor contractualization.”

In addition, the group called on the President to take concrete steps needed to end labor flexibilization. This include: 1) certifying as urgent – and mobilizing all his party mates to pass – a bill to amend Articles 106 to 109 of the Labor Code in order to prohibit the contracting and subcontracting of “usually necessary or desirable” work in the normal operations of a business, which should be performed by regular employees, in line with Article 280 of said law; 2) revising the BMBE law so as to remove the exemptions to labor standards compliance of small and micro establishments, which comprise more than 90% of the employers’ sector; 3) repealing DOLE’s DO 18-A and issuing a new order which reviews all existing subcontracting arrangements and cancels those that encroach upon the duties and functions which should done by regular employees.

Finally, the group challenged the President to actually prosecute employers that practice contractualization, starting with the country’s richest families such as Sys, the Ayalas, the Gokongweis and others./

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