There are compromises and there are compromises. One is principled. It is attained by contending parties reaching a middle ground after failing to win over the other side to one’s position. For both sides, they give concessions to each other, while expecting to fight over the contentious issues in due time.
Principled labor groups may lift a strike or settle a legal dispute, despite not getting the maximum demands, not to content oneself with partial victories and temporary cessation of hostilities, but to preserve one’s strength to live and fight another day.
Duterte’s appeal for a compromise in reply to labor’s demand for an Executive Order to prohibit all forms of contractualization, is not a compromise but a sell-out. It is a compromise for traitors. We expect it to be no other than a rehashed version of Sec. Bello’s Department Order 174.
DO 174, which was deceivingly called a “win-win solution”, deems agency workers as regular employees of contractors, manpower agencies and labor cooperatives. It exempts principal employers from their obligation to regularize workers who perform “usually necessary or desirable” work to the normal operations of their business, as stated in Article 280 of the Labor Code.
The Duterte Executive Order on contractualization (EO), which is expected to be signed on or before his March 15 deadline, means the continuation of contractualization; this anti-labor scheme that would make workers cheap and docile, using the capitalist blackmail of unemployment to force workers to accept starvation wages and surrender their rights to the altar of capital.
Duterte’s basis for his compromise offer is an affront to legally-enshrined labor rights, which were won through a century of heroic struggles by the international working class movement. He said, “Don’t make it hard for them to run the business the way they like it because that’s their money”.
What a revolting display of convoluted logic! The president, as a lawyer, should very well know that “management prerogative” and “property rights” are not absolute. They should give way to the primacy of labor and our right to live decently.
It is even more insulting to workers, whose votes propelled him to the presidency during the 2016 elections, because he has continuously sworn to stop contractualization as part of his electoral agenda. Yet we are not surprised. After all, this is not the first time that he has reneged on his promises.
The BMP calls on organized labor – especially the trade union movement – to reject the compromise offer of Duterte and struggle for an Executive Order to prohibit contractualization. Not because we place our faiths on a fake messiah in the persona of Rodrigo Roa Duterte, but because, an executive order provides a swift resolution to address this anti-labor scourge, as compared to long-drawn legislative lobbying in the trapo and capitalist-dominated halls of Senate and Congress.#
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