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Stop the farce

By: Solita Collas-Monsod - @inquirerdotnetPhilippine Daily Inquirer / 11:01 PM November 04, 2011

Philippine Airlines is crying harassment by its employees and their union (Palea) and asking for support
from business groups like the Makati Business Club. Sort of like a were all in this together and if it can
happen to us it can happen to you structural message.

Unbelievable. In the past decade the public has been witness to how badly PAL has treated its pilots
(terminating, then rehiring them at entry-level wages, asking for legislation to prevent pilots from
working for foreign airlines) and its flight attendants (firing, then rehiring at entry-level wages, onerous
working and retirement conditions, long-drawn-out, never-ending CBA negotiations). And now, it wants
to give its ground crew the same fire-and-rehire-at-entry-level wages treatment, slightly modified.
Chutzpah.

From where I sit, PAL is not the victim of labor unions (leftist/Red-leaning, is the sub-message) but the
exploiter of labor. It has been doing it for a long time, but this is beyond the pale. It should not be
allowed to get away with it. Only consider:

First, the background: In 1998, PAL was in financial trouble as a result of a pilot strike, and as part of its
rehabilitation plan, downsized its labor forcebut almost immediately rehired most of them at entry-
level salaries (i.e., loss of senioritythe start of a pattern). The Palea went on strike to protest the
downsizing, and then President Joseph Estrada, a great friend of PAL owner Lucio Tan, created an
interagency task force to broker an agreement between PAL and Palea.

The agreement included Palea consenting to a 10-year suspension of the PAL-Palea Collective Bargaining
Agreement (CBA), in an effort to assure creditors and potential investors of industrial peace. In effect,
Palea not only agreed that in the next 10 years, any wage increases would be decided solely by
management, but that there would also be a 10-year moratorium on strikes. Does that sound like PAL
was a victim and Palea the predator?

After the 10-year period, during which the employees were given yearly wage increases that were less
than what they had been receiving with previous CBAs, PAL announced to Palea (August 2009) that it
intended to spin off/outsource the airport services department (every activity of PAL performed in the
airport) as well as the catering department. Does that sound like PAL was a victim and Palea the
aggressor?
Just like that. Having gone without bargaining for 10 years, in order to help PAL turn its finances around,
that is how Paleas patience gets rewarded. And up to this time, PAL has refused to sit down with Palea
for CBA negotiations. Which means, as a result, that for the past three years, the PAL employees have
not received any salary increase. Does that sound like PAL is a victim and Palea the aggressor?

Now let us focus on outsourcing. While it is different from off-shoring (sending your laundry to the
cleaners is outsourcing), most outsourcing is also off-shoring or offshore outsourcing, and our BPOs are
examples. And the basic reason is to cut costs (e.g., in the BPO situation, Philippine or Indian labor being
cheaper than American or European labor), and/or, as it is so delicately phrased, to allow a company to
concentrate on its core competencies.

That sounds good, doesnt it? Who can possibly be against such objectives? Which is why our labor
department and the Office of the President so sanctimoniously talk about management prerogative
being a valid reason for retrenchment.

But hold on a moment. A closer examination of how this cost-savings will take place shows how PALs
version has made a farce, a travesty of this principle.

Consider: who is PAL going to contract these services out to? Well, from reports, it wants to contract the
airport services (passenger, baggage, cargo, handling, equipment maintenance) to a company called Sky
Logistics, and thus will no longer need the services of about 2,000 current employees. It intends to
contract its in-flight catering activities to a company called Sky Kitchen, thus no longer requiring the
services of 400 current PAL employees. And finally, the reservations and bookings will be contracted out
to a call center called SPI Global, thus making another 300 of its current employees redundant.

The problem, dear reader, is that with the exception of SPI Global (which is PLDTs BPO arm, and which
probably started the rumor that Manny Pangilinan was about to buy PAL), the other two companies
have absolutely no experience in the services they are supposed to provide, and were in fact reportedly
incorporated only in 2009 (when PAL announced it was outsourcing). It seems that their only claim to
airline services activities is that they are both named Sky.

Sky Logistics and Sky Kitchen are reportedly owned by a Chinese-Filipino named Manny Osmea from
Cebuno relationship at all with the Cebu Osmeas. I promise to look up their financials and their other
owners, if any.
So, if these two corporations are new and untested, why did PAL choose them? One will not speculate.
But what PAL intended to do (in the guise of doing its employees a favor) is to have these firms hire the
2,400 employees it wants to retrenchbut at entry-level salaries. Again. The nth time PAL uses this
technique, thats where the cost-savings will come from.

In other words, PALs outsourcing consists of firing its employees, and then hiring them at entry-level
wages through what looks like a couple of dummy corporations.

Stop the farce. Stop the exploitation

Worker hired, fired every 5 months

By: Kirstin Bernabe, Penelope P. Endozo, Sara Isabelle Pacia - @inquirerdotnetPhilippine Daily Inquirer /
04:51 AM May 01, 2014

HAZARDOUS WORK Workers equipped with hard hats install scaffolding at a construction site in Quezon
City. With a 71.4 percent share, construction is the sector with the biggest number of nonregular
workers. JOAN BONDOC

(First of two parts)

On his fourth month as a salesclerk, Mark finally adjusted to a new work routine just when his contract is
about to end next month.

From 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., he works at a supermarket chain in the City of San Fernando, receiving new
product shipments and processing bad orders or expired items.

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He gets one day off every Sunday and is paid the minimum daily wage of P336 in Pampanga province, or
about P8,000 a month, a tad below the official poverty threshold of P8,022 a month for a family of five in
the first half of 2013.
Come June 5, however, 21-year-old Mark (not his real name) will have to change his routine to a more
familiar one that centers on a never-ending job hunt to earn enough money to support his family.

On Sunday, when the Inquirer spoke to Mark, the clerk had just come from a regular work shift although
it was his day off.

Even that was practically routine, Mark said. Working beyond the required hours happened often since
his five-month contract with the supermarket chain began in January, the tail-end of peak season.

Sometimes I extend my work to 30 minutes [because I want] to finish it, but thats not part of
overtime, he said, adding that he wasnt the only one among his colleagues who did it.

In June, Marks contract will end and he will have to find work elsewhere, whether near Santa Ana town
where he lives with his parents and three brothers, or in Manila where he said there was more work to
be found.

Breadwinner

Now, he endures traveling for about 45 minutes from Santa Ana to San Fernando for work every day.

As breadwinner, Mark cannot be on his own yet since he has to help his family.

Being jobless is not an option, he said. There is still a 20-year-old brothers tuition to pay for his second
year in college, a cost he shoulders now that his parents have no work except for his fathers occasional
stint as a roof fixer.

Another brother, 18, works at a fast-food chain; the youngest, 17, hopes to enter college after graduating
from high school this year.

Contractualization rampant
Mark is one of the many endo, or end-of-contract workers, under what trade unions dub
contractualization scheme, which refers to short-term and unprotected temporary work arrangements.

In its many forms, contractualization is rampant in the country. Endo workers, in particular, are bound by
a five-month timeframe so that companies will not make them regular employees after six months under
the Labor Code.

From this arrangement stems the 5-5-5 scheme in which an endo worker is hired and fired every five
months so that employers will not make them permanent employees.

Across industries

Contractualization also cuts across industries and economic sectors, from construction to manufacturing
and even in the information and communications sector, said Anna Leah Escresa, executive director for
the Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (Eiler).

The supermarket, in fact, is Marks second endo stint. In his previous job, also in sales, Mark ended up
staying for over a year despite his contract.

After five months, Mark unofficially worked for the company for another 17 months, split between two
branches, and was not part of the regular payroll.

At the time, how Mark got the money didnt matter. It was stable work, he said, and considered himself
lucky to at least have a weekly salary.

Not uncommon

Marks story is not uncommon where he works. Even his girlfriend, 19-year-old Jessa (not her real name)
whom he met on the job, was an endo worker in the same supermarket until March.

Like Mark, Jessas contract as a salesclerk assigned to the fresh produce department was for only five
months beginning September last year. Like Mark, Jessa does not live in San Fernando but in Macabebe
town. Jessa was also paid P8,000 a month and regularly worked overtime in a more demanding and ever-
changing schedule.

Only a few lasted in our area because it was hard, she said. A Tuesday day-off was her only rest day.
You [also] cant avoid supervisors who want things done very fast.

Jessa has yet to find another job since her contract ended, choosing to help run the familys sari-sari
store with her mother. But she plans to find work to augment the money her father sends from Saudi
Arabia. She is hoping Mark will help her with that as well when he hunts for a new job by June. He told
me wed look for work together, she said.

Together for Mark and Jessa could mean another five-month stint at a different supermarket chain
recommended by people they know. Together, however, could end just as quickly if Mark pursues his
plan to work in Dubai with his uncle, or if Jessa finishes another two-year course on hotel and restaurant
management in Manila.

Below minimum

Endo workers are paid very low wages, oftentimes below the prevailing minimum wage rates and are
forced to work for long hours, Escresa said.

Various reports from workers confirm that endo workers are often not paid overtime. They only receive
minimum mandatory benefits, such as SSS and PhilHealth.

Mark and Jessa are even considered lucky that they had overtime pay, except it would have given them
at most P1,000 each a month. They considered it a small bonus, sometimes not worth the effort to file
and have it approved by their supervisors.

The minimum benefit package that endo workers receive doesnt run parallel with the growth of the top
companies in the country.

Top firms huge profits


Citing 2012 data from research group Ibon Foundation, Kilusang Mayo Uno chair Elmer Labog said that
in 2006, the profits of the top 1,000 corporations in the country reached P599 billion and just after six
years, in 2012, their profits almost doubled to P1.08 trillion.

If companies are growing and earning more, why arent workers getting more? Labog said.

Labor research group Eiler sees the inequality as one of the social implications of contractualization.

The scheme persists precisely because companies find it very lucrative. Hiring contractual workers
means saving on labor costs, as contractual workers are paid less than regular counterparts and are
denied the full package of benefits, Eiler executive director Escresa said.

Attack on labor rights

While contractualization generates immense profit for companies, it is entirely an attack on workers
basic labor rights, she added. Endos are getting much less than what they are entitled to in jobs that are
not even stable.

Without college degreesMark only finished three years of computer science at St. Nicolas College and
Jessa, a two-year vocational course in hotel and restaurant services at Asian Caregiving Technology
Education Centerthe two have slim chances of being regulars.

Other employees, however, offered the clerks a glimmer of hope. If you have perfect attendance and if
your performance is good, you have a chance to become a regular [employee], Jessa said, which was
what happened to her sister, who was a contractual worker for a year in the same company before
becoming a full-time employee.

But with no four-year degree to boast of like her sistera requirement that helps fast-track job security
Jessa knew that she could never follow in her sisters footsteps.

Dengue depletes tuition


Mark, too, has heard of this possibility if he performs well enough. But he knows better when it comes to
his chances, having quit college after his tuition was used to pay for his hospital bills when he contracted
dengue in 2012.

I dont think about being regular because there hasnt been an undergraduate who has done it yet in
my area, he added.

Even with the temporary work they do, the two are grateful. After all, not all undergraduates are lucky
enough to have jobs.

Looking at contractualization in a sense that it provides livelihood even to those with minimal
educational attainment, an economics professor said it could help bridge socioeconomic gaps.

If contractualization leads to greater employment for the unemployed, especially for those with lower
skill [sets], then we can say it helps in terms of inclusive growth, said Geoffrey Ducanes, assistant
professor at the University of the Philippines School of Economics.

But this is just one face of the coin, he added, because if the system leads to lower labor standards, it
doesnt make a difference.

Worsening inequality

If the result of contractualization is a lower labor standardfor example, wages are fixed always at
minimum wage and workers have no other benefits and the lower-skilled people are not employed, then
this contributes to worsening inequality in the country, Ducanes said.

Obligations with a period

But despite the dismal conditions, contractualization is allowed under the law. Although the 1989 Labor
Code mentions only four types of employmentregular, project employment, seasonal and casual
contractual workers are allowed under the Civil Code, said Jonathan Sale, dean of the UP School of Labor
and Industrial Relations.
Under the law on obligations and contracts under the Civil Code, particularly under the obligations,
there is what they call obligations with a period and that is the basis of contractual employment. The
other terms used in relation to contractual employment is fixed period employment or term
employment, Sale said.

Illegal

Repeated contractualization, however, in which an employees contract is renewed every five months
under the same employer is illegal, according to Sale.

If the purpose of the employer in laying down the [repeated] period [of five months] is to prevent the
employee from attaining a regular status or security of tenure, then its illegal. Its contrary to law and
renders the contract void, he said.

But the problem is: What employer will candidly admit that that is the purpose, di ba? he added.

The varying name of contractualization is just one of the reasons it is rampant today.

Large, growing sector

According to the 2012 Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics Integrated Survey (BITS), 30.5 percent
of total employment constitutes nonregular workers, which account for apprentices, probationary,
seasonal, casual and project-based workers.

The sector with the biggest share of nonregular workers is construction with 71.4 percent, followed by
administrative and support services with 39 percent and manufacturing with 29.7 percent.

The BITS results are but rough estimates as the survey is based only on forms submitted by
establishments with 20 or more workers, and thus based on a total employment figure of 3,769,259.

Even Sale said the number of temporary workers varied depending on definitions used.
The statistics varies [in counting the temporary and informal workers]. In the International Labor
Organization, about 40 percent to 80 percent workers are in the informal economy . So I guess we
really have to determine it once and for all, Sale said.

But whatever it is, whether its 40 percent, 80 percent, or anything between 40 percent to 80 percent,
its there and its a large sector. Its very substantial. Its large and its growing, he also said.

Labor surplus

This growing percentage has led to a labor surplus in the Philippines, said Ducanes. Because of this
excess, manpower is the countrys biggest come-on for potential investors.

It (labor) is our competitive advantage, Ducanes said. We have a big pool of skilled or better-educated
workers who are also good at English. These skill sets are also the reason Filipinos are employed
overseas in various sectors, he added.

But the labor surplus, according to Ducanes, only makes it that much harder for endo workers to bargain
for bigger wages and more benefits.

On the one hand, you want to protect the workers. On the other, you want to make it easy for business
to be established and for the unemployed to be employed, he said.

In most cases, the latter reasoning prevails because employing contractual workers affords companies
greater flexibility, Ducanes said.

Should an economic crisis occur or should the demand for certain goods go down, companies have to
only wait out the workers five-month contracts or fire them on the spot without the need to give
separation pay or other benefits.

The surplus even assures companies that they can easily find new and willing contractual workers. Even
if you fire workers, you feel confident that when you need to hire somebody again, you can always get
from the pool of the unemployed, he said.
Contractualization in essence makes hiring and firing easy, he added.

Legal reinforcer

Eiler considers Articles 106-109 of the Labor Code, or what they call Herrera Law, as the reinforcer of
the contractual scheme.

Articles 106-109 allow contracting and subcontracting arrangements, and empowers the labor secretary
to issue rules that promote contractualization, Escresa said.

To supplement the Herrera Law, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) approved in 2011
Department Order 18-A, which states the illegal forms of contractualization but does not ban it
altogether.

For Escresa, DO 18-A merely downplays the harsh work environment contractual workers have to live in.

DO 18-A deodorizes the rampant implementation of contractual arrangements in many companies, as it


tries to promote contractual workers rights while encouraging businesses to adopt ethical
contractualization, she said.

And while the law allows even contractual workers to organize and protest, it is all but a theory, Labog
said, as we know that management can easily fire these people.

Not only does it trivialize job security for endo workers but contractualization also makes it harder for
regular employees to demand better pay and benefits, Labog said.

The expanding pool of contractual workers, often outnumbering the regular workers, also has a huge
impact on our organizing effort as management can use them against the regular workers who launch
mass actions to push for higher wages and more benefits, he said.

Fight for regularization


It is the contractual workers who keep the business running when unions decide to launch a strike and
boycott work, said Nelson Cornelio who speaks from experience as a former union leader and mall
employee for 14 years.

So we in the union realized that we have to also fight for the regularization of these workers, Cornelio
said.

Cornelios union once succeeded in this goal with hundreds of endo workers regularized but the
company eventually responded with new tactics to prevent it from happening again, he said.

The state of contractual workers can be attributed to the neoliberal schemes of policymakers, Labog
said.

They believe that to invite foreign investment, the state of labor should be depressed, meaning lower
wages, contractualization, among others, he said.

The government keeps on saying that human resource is our biggest asset but they cannot even protect
and uphold the rights of the workers, Labog said.

Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/598582/worker-hired-fired-every-5-months#ixzz4kcyj4yU9

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SPECIAL REPORT

The informalization of Philippine workers

By: Kirstin Bernabe, Penelope P. Endozo, Sara Isabelle Pacia - @inquirerdotnetPhilippine Daily Inquirer /
03:21 AM May 02, 2014
JOB SEEKERS Jobless Filipinos fill out application forms at a job fair of the Department of Labor and
Employment on Labor Day at SMNorth Edsa inQuezon City. LYN RILLON

(Last of two parts)

Ronald has been working for a real estate company for 14 years, but he was never quite sure if he was
ever on the employees list.

It seems like we are not part of the company because we have not signed any contracts and we do not
receive any benefits, only our salaries, he said.

Ronald gets between P360 and P400 a day, below the minimum wage of P466, and nothing elseno SSS,
PhilHealth, Pag-Ibig and bonuses.

Upon the invitation of his cousin who works as a construction worker in Manila, Ronald left his home
province of Bukidnon to try his luck in the Big City.

He never thought life would be complicated in Manila. Being an undergraduate, he had few choices and
finally settled for a job as a utility assistant and water-meter reader.

Now, even his job description is not clear to him. A real estate development company behind a number
of subdivisions in Manila and Cavite province hired him as an on-call troubleshooter for doing work as
an electrician, carpenter, mason, plumber and house painter.

Sometimes someone calls me in the middle of the night because theres no electricity in a village and I
have to go right away, he said.

Informalization

Ronald works under an employment scheme that labor relations expert Rene Ofreneo of the University
of the Philippines School of Labor and Industrial Relations calls informalization.
While contractual workers are bound by a five-month time frame, Ronald is part of an informal sector
that is forced to find jobs in the limited and underdeveloped organized sector of the economy.

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Informal-sector work involves coping with the requirements of daily living, no matter how minimal the
income is from an informal economic undertaking, which include hawking, home-based production,
unregistered repair services and so on, Ofreneo said in his paper Precarious Philippines: Expanding
Informal Sector, Flexibilizing Labor Market (2013).

Community of builders

Unlike Ronald who has had a steady, albeit informal, job for more than a decade, a community of
construction workers in Rizal province is not as lucky.

In Sitio (settlement) Tabing Ilog, when theres work to do, almost everyone works, no matter what kind.
When projects come to an end, everyone is on the lookout for the next one.

For most men in this village near Gate 1 in Cogeo, Antipolo City, construction work has been a way of life,
said Rodolfo Cristobal. There are about a hundred families living in Sitio Tabing Ilog which share a unique
relationship as neighbors and coworkers.

Masons. Carpenters. Welders. Electricians. Plumbers. Name it, we have them all. When contractors
need men, we usually go as a group, Cristobal said.

But for a barangay (village) composed mainly of builders who have the skills to put up towering
structures and skyscrapers, many cannot afford to construct decent houses of their own.

No electricity, running water

Cristobal, who is in between jobs, lives in a hovel with no electricity and draws water from a nearby well.
He left his last project in Taguig City in September last year when he was hardly bringing anything home
for his wife, Marissa, and their 10 children.

As a mason, Cristobal was paid P370 a day, also below the minimum wage. He had no other benefits
when he was part of the crew that was building a posh hotel in Bonifacio Global City.

At 49, he can hardly find a job at construction sites because he is considered old.

Im still strong but jobs are scarce. Actually, I never know when Im needed, so I just have to be ready
anytime, he said.

The minimum wage for private sector workers in Metro Manila is set at P466, consisting of P451 in basic
pay and P15 in cost-of-living allowance.

The cost of living for a family of six in Metro Manila was pegged at P917 per day in 2008 by the National
Wages and Productivity Commission.

The figure has not been updated but Partido ng Manggagawa said its own study in 2013 showed that the
cost of living in the metropolis stood at P1,217 a day, or nearly triple the minimum wage.

Take-home of P185 per day

I left my last job because my wages werent enough for my family. In Taguig, each meal costs P50 and I
only take home around P1,300 per week or P185 per day. I wanted to skip my meals so I could save but I
need to eat for strength because my work is mainly physical. This is hard labor work. I might faint if I
work on an empty stomach, he said.

Cristobal said he was spending about P200 per meal daily for his family of 12. As to whether its lunch or
dinner, it depends on what time he gets the money from doing extra work or borrowing money from
friends.

Unequal, exclusivist growth


Times have been harder since Cristobal lost his job last September. He is one of the 12 million jobless
Filipinos estimated by Social Weather Stations in the last quarter of 2013.

For a country that achieved a 7.2-percent growth in gross domestic product last year, the second-fastest
in Asia next to China, many like Cristobal do not feel its benefits.

Growth is unequal and exclusivist, said Ofreneo. To this majority, it is difficult to connect their own
lives with the celebratory view of the dawning of the Asian century, he said.

Cristobal said he was grateful for any construction work he could find. He belongs to a family of
construction workers. His father was a contractor. He became a mason. His sons are also construction
peons.

Sons death

When his son, Benbon, and nine other workers died at the construction site of Eton Residences in Makati
City in 2011 after their overloaded gondola snapped, the family cried for justice.

To this day, no one has been held accountable for their deaths. They lost their claim to the case at the
National Labor Relations Commission and it was brought to the Court of Appeals, Cristobals wife said.

But Benbons death did not stop Cristobals two other sons, Valentino and Junie, from working on
construction projects. They are only high school graduates and cannot find other work.

Its hard labor and we risk our lives out there. We just try to get through the day, he said.

Exponential growth

No official data on the size of the informal sector is available because it is not part of the countrys labor
statistical system but a number of factors show it has grown exponentially.

In the absence of official statistics on the informal sector, estimates give a sense of its size.
The Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics placed the informal sector at 41.5 percent of the total
employment figure of 36 million in 2010, an underestimate, Ofreneo said.

The Employers Confederation of the Philippines said it was 77 percent, or 25 million out of the 36
million employed in 2006, an overestimate but is closer to reality, given the large number of
unregistered microenterprises in the country, he wrote.

No papers, social protection

In Ronalds and Cristobals cases, their employers dont even bother to put their workers employment
on paper. The number of workers under this scheme is said to be huge.

With no papers, no taxes paid and no formal ties to the company that supposedly employs him, Ronald,
like other members of the informal economy, receives no social protection from the government.

When a catastrophe strikes, like an illness or natural disaster, they are left scrambling for money. For
them there are no PhilHealth, Pag-Ibig and SSS benefits to cushion the impact.

Ronald, for example, has three children, one of them with special needs. Every time his son suffers a
seizure, he has to shell out at least P6,000, which is more than half of his salary for a month.

We have to borrow money from anyoneneighbors, friends, said his wife, Sol, who works as a house
helper earning P3,500 a month.

According to Ofreneos study, although there were efforts from the government to protect informal
workers, none have substantially eased their plight.

In the past, the government exhibited a combination of benign neglect and occasional programs of
assistance that were generally limited in scope and budget, he said.
It cited the antipoverty programs of the government, like the conditional cash transfer program,
PhilHealth coverage of indigents and lending initiatives, among other things, but coverage and funding
for these programs are generally limited.

Magna Carta

Ronald and his family have not benefited from any of these programs. For one, based on 2013
government statistics, they are not considered poor because they earn more than the poverty threshold
of P8,022 monthly for a family of five.

It is because of this kind of stories of informal workers that the Magna Carta of Workers in Informal
Employment has been introduced and refiled since the 12th Congress.

The idea is to push for the passage in Congress of a so-called Magna Carta of Workers in Informal
Employment or Macwie (House Bill No. 768) that guarantees the following universal rights for informal
workers: the right to a job, the right to form an association and the right to get social protection in crisis
periods, including the right to protection against harassment by agents of the state in relation to their
micro and informal economic activities, Ofreneo wrote.

Recent events at the workplace made Ronald realize the risks and uncertainties of his job that the
Macwie could address.

For instance, citing the case of Ronalds coworker who died in a construction site, they (their bosses)
almost denied they knew the person, he said.

They made it appear like they were just helping the worker, like doing an act of charity, Ronald said.
And we had to act like we saw and heard nothing.

What if it happens to me? What will happen to my family? he said, adding that the workers bereaved
family somehow got a donation.

In terms of regularization, too, Ronald recalled how his coworkers were suddenly laid off from work
when the company realized it had too many drivers and fired almost all of them.
What if one day they decide they no longer need me? he asked. I only trust that they would at least
consider my loyalty for the past years but I will never know for sure.

Enabling environment

Many of the workers themselves said education and poverty were a chicken-and-egg question in which
education could lift the family out of poverty while poverty was depriving them of education.

Ofreneo, however, said that aside from education, the government should act to create an enabling
environment for workers to get better conditions and improved labor-worker relations.

Among the suggestions are:

Offering cash-for-work to workers instead of awarding projects to big companies in building


infrastructure.

Improving the electric wholesale system because while the Philippines has cheap labor, electricity is
more expensive than in Vietnam or Thailand, which hinders foreign investments.

Revising the system on land reform and reviving agricultural reforms because the landless poor are
more susceptible to taking on temporary jobs.

Taking decisive action against smuggling because the large monetary losses from it can be used to
improve labor conditions instead.

Passing the Macwie for workers social protection.

Until these are implemented, Ofreneo said contractuals, casuals and informal workerswhatever Ronald
and Cristobal are calledlivelihood opportunities would remain hanging by a thread.