Marcos excludes seasonal workers ‘like agriculture’ from anti-endo plans

Employers refusing to regularize workers whom they claim to perform only ‘seasonal work’ is a perennial problem of the labor force

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr claimed he will end contractualization or “endo” (end of contract) but not for workers who perform only seasonal jobs.

Marcos said in a taped interview streamed on Monday, March 21, that he will revisit President Rodrigo Duterte’s vetoed anti-endo law.

“Kung sakali man na makaupo ako ay babalikan natin, titingnan natin, ayusin natin para … tama nga naman, na it applies only to those businesses that are not seasonal. ..We have to adjust to reality, pero bigay natin yung safety ng may…pagka hindi seasonal ang trabaho, na merong security yung ating mga empleyado, at nakukuha nila yung kanilang benepisyo,” said Marcos in an interview with One PH’s Cheryl Cosim.

(If I become president, let’s revisit, let’s see, let’s fix it so that…because it’s correct, that it applies only to those businesses that are not seasonal. We have to adjust to reality, but let’s priovide safety to those whose jobs are not seasonal, let’s provide them security, that they can get benefits.)

Marcos was defending President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision in July 2019 to veto an earlier version of the anti-endo bill. A new version was passed by the House of Representatives on third and final reading in December 2020, but progressive lawmakers still opposed this version, saying it still retains what was precisely the problem — hiring seasonal employees and not regularizing them.

Employers refusing to regularize workers whom they claim to perform only seasonal work is a perennial problem of the labor force.

Marcos defended these employers in the Monday interview.

“Meron naman talagang trabaho na seasonal na hindi naman buong taon, agriculture for example, very simple na example.. rin, yun ang kailangan nating…. we have to adjust to reality,” said Marcos.

(There are really jobs that are seasonal because it’s not all year long, agriculture for example, it’s a very simple example. There are really businesses like retailer, during Christmas they hire a lot, you need to get people even on a casual basis, But after the season you have to let them go, that’s what we need to…we have to adjust to reality.)

This has been a long-running thorny issue in labor disputes because to be deemed a regular worker under Article 295 of the labor code, one must perform a “necessary and desirable” task. To deny their workers the right to regularization, companies have argued that the tasks are not necessary and desirable. But how do you define necessary and desirable?

In a 2018 decision of the Supreme Court Third Division, the High Court declared workers of Universal Robina Sugar Milling Corporation (URSUMCO) as regular even though the company said milling was seasonal work. The Supreme Court said when workers were hired off-milling season to do repairs, they still peformed “necessary and desirable” work. The Court upheld an earlier ruling that these workers are regular employees.

During the DZRH presidential interviews last January 25, Marcos Jr. said he would address the problem of contractualization by talking to company owners who, he said, are “friends.”

“Eh siguro naman kung kausapin natin – kaibigan naman natin sila – sabihin naman natin, para maging patas naman na gawing permanent ang mga iba at ibahin nila ang sistema,” said Marcos.

(For sure, if we talk to them – they are my friends – let’s tell them, for the system to be fair, make workers permanent and change the system.) –

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