Ending an era
Who will object to the news of the signing of an executive order doing away with the age-old practice of “endo”—employing contractual workers for only as long as they will not be eligible for benefits mandated by the law?
Certainly not workers themselves, who have been suffering this oppressive condition for long, forced to bite the bullet for lack of better options. It is after all marginally better to find oneself out of work every five months or so than be always looking for a job.
Not politicians, who want to appear as champions of labor. They will certainly want to be seen as a force for good, whether or not their intentions are genuine.
Not businesses, too, at least outwardly. The more conscientious of them want to show that they are responsible corporate citizens, committed to fairness and social equity.
So when Malacanang assures the labor sector that such an executive order will be signed by May 1, Labor Day, we should hold off celebrating.
Already, labor groups are accusing the administration of delaying the signing so it could accommodate the version offered by the business sector. A contentious provision is workers’ right to exercise security of tenure under a direct-hiring employment relationship with the principal employers.
It is perhaps unreasonable to expect that a government would completely adopt any one version – that would defeat the intent of a consultation. Whatever is eventually signed by the President would be better than the status quo, which is an absent order, more importantly an absent legislation.
Then again, any official act will have no meaning whatsoever if the practice continues under some creative scheme. Ultimately, the test is whether the order will achieve the ends it seeks. If not, then it would be just like any token move, meant to pacify and earn goodwill, and nothing more.