“Push for an End to Job Contracting in the Public Sector”

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Organized Public-Sector Labor Unions Call for an End to Job Contracting and Contractualization in the Government Sector

Organized public-sector labor unions have recently made a strong appeal to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to take decisive action against job contracting and contractualization within the government sector. The Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK), a national confederation of public sector unions representing various government entities, has urged the president to halt these practices and ensure the security of tenure for civil servants.

The call from PSLINK comes in response to the president’s decision to extend the hiring of job order and contract-of-service workers in the government until December 31, 2025. While the extension was intended to address certain workforce needs, the labor unions argue that it perpetuates the issues of job insecurity and inadequate labor protections for these workers.

The Impact of Joint Circular 1, Series of 2017

PSLINK specifically calls for the revocation of Joint Circular (JC) 1, Series of 2017, and subsequent similar circulars that have allowed for contractual work in the public sector. JC 1, which was issued by the Civil Service Commission, Commission on Audit, and Department of Budget and Management, introduced new rules and regulations governing the hiring of contract-of-service and job order workers in the government until December 31, 2018.

According to PSLINK, since the implementation of JC 1 and similar circulars, the number of job order and contract-of-service workers has significantly increased, reaching a staggering 832,812 based on the CSC inventory of government human resources as of June 30, 2023. This exponential growth in contractual workers highlights the urgent need for stronger labor protections and the elimination of exploitative employment arrangements.

Challenges Faced by Contractual Workers

PSLINK President Annie Enriquez Geron emphasizes that extending the engagement of individual contract-of-service and job order workers does not effectively address the pervasive issue of contractualization in the public sector. Contractual workers continue to live in fear of losing their jobs, struggle to support their families due to subpar wages, and are denied mandatory benefits and social protection.

Furthermore, Geron points out that these workers are unable to fully exercise their rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining, as they are not considered government employees under existing laws. This exclusion leaves them vulnerable and without the necessary support and representation to advocate for their rights and interests.

Legislative Action and Reforms Needed

In addition to urging President Marcos Jr. to address the widespread issue of contractualization and informalization in the government sector, PSLINK calls upon the president and leaders of Congress to promptly act on bills that safeguard the fundamental rights of government workers. These bills aim to ensure regular jobs, freedom of association, and living wages for government employees.

Specifically, PSLINK implores President Marcos Jr. to certify as urgent the passage of the Security of Tenure Act for government workers, which seeks to regularize entitled job orders and contract-of-service workers while prohibiting exploitative contractual work arrangements. The confederation also highlights the need for a substantial wage hike and an increase in the Personnel Economic Relief Allowance (PERA) for government workers, given the rising costs of goods and services.

Additionally, PSLINK emphasizes the importance of passing the Public Services Labor Relations Act, a proposed bill that would enhance labor rights and protections for government employees. They also advocate for a fair Salary Standardization Law that addresses wage inequities, including the disparity between national and local government employees.

In conclusion, the organized public-sector labor unions’ call for an end to job contracting and contractualization in the government sector highlights the pressing need for stronger labor protections and reforms. It is crucial for President Marcos Jr. and the leaders of Congress to take immediate action to ensure the security of tenure, freedom of association, and living wages for government workers. By addressing these issues, the government can create a more equitable and sustainable working environment for its employees.

Source: The Manila Times

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