At least two million workers lost their jobs at the start of the new year.
House Deputy Minority Leader and Probinsyano Ako party-list Rep. Jose Singson Jr. said the workers who were rendered jobless were mostly temporary help who were hired to augment the manpower needs of various companies during the Christmas holidays.
Singson is the author of House Bill (HB) 4802 or the measure that proposes to extend the current six-month probationary period of workers to twenty-four months,
“I have been pilloried, subjected to personal attacks and heavily criticized, mostly from progressive-minded labor groups because of my bill. But look, there is now this very sad reality that after the new year’s revelry, more or less two million workers no longer have their jobs and it’s job hunting season anew for them,” Singson said.
Singson said a major labor union admitted that those terminated after the holidays were employed for only one month.
The Alliance of Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP), one of the critics of HB 4802, noted the “upsurge trend” in the hiring of temporary workers.
ALU-TUCP earlier said around 1.5 million and 2 million contractual and seasonal workers were hired, supposedly to beef up the mix of contractual and regular workforce of businesses during the yuletide season.
The labor group even recognized that the said massive hiring happened between December and January and according to them, is allowed under the law.
Alan Tanjusay, ALU-TUCP spokesperson, added that they noticed the upsurge trend for cheap skilled and unskilled seasonal, temporary and on-call workers in the labor market in time for Christmas and New Year.
This admission of ALU-TUCP, Singson said, only confirms his position that there is a “vicious cycle” wherein workers or employees are being hired, but are also being terminated even before the end of their supposed six-month probation.
“This is a clear validation for the foundation of my advocacy to extend the prescribed period of probation which aims to solve of the vicious cycle of massive termination before the six-month period lapses,” the House Deputy Minority Leader said.
“By simply removing the six-month prescriptive period and extending the same to 24 months, it is in effect allowing the employees to enjoy a longer period of gainful employment; thereby, ending the so-called practice of Endo,” Singson added.
The Probinsyano Ako lawmaker said that his proposal prolongs “not the agony of the employee, but rather the continuous income stream of the employee beyond the six-month period.”
“With this new year, a lot of contracts are set to or have already expired. My proposal would have allowed for employees affected by such, to continue with their employment during and beyond the holiday season,” he said.
“Please note, that my proposal deals with probationary employment and has nothing to do with contractual, fix-term or seasonal employment,” Singson added.
In defending his bill, Singson said bill mandates probationary employees be entitled to the benefits of Republic Act 6727 or the Minimum Wage Law, as well as the other mandatory benefits under the Labor Code and special labor laws.
These include as coverage under the Social Security System, Philippine Health Insurance System, and the Home Development Mutual Fund, or also known as the Pag-IBIG Fund, Singson said.
“Furthermore, there is nothing in my bill stopping an employer from regularizing a probationary employee at any time within the 24-month period of probationary employment,” he said.