Approximately 500 non-contractual workers in the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman campus are at risk of being transferred to private agencies first thing next year.

Joint Circular No. 1, which covers all government agencies including state universities, allows the contract renewal of existing Job Order (JO) and Contract of Service (COS) workers only until December 31, 2018.

JO and COS workers are defined as those who “cover piece or intermittent work for a short duration” or “undertake special jobs within a specific period of time.”

In the university, these are the non-UP contractuals which include the Special Services Brigade, street sweepers, messengers, research and laboratory aides, and teachers who have no existing employer-employee relationship with the university.

Under the joint circular, which was released by the Civil Service Commission (CSC), the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), and the Commission on Audit (COA) in June last year, the government will also be hiring JO and COS workers only through private manpower agencies. In other words, non-UP contractuals will be pressed to work under such agencies starting January 2019.

“Ang hindi maganda ‘pag napasailalim ka na sa [private] agency, hindi sila nagbibigay ng tamang benepisyo…Dagdag dito ‘yung posibilidad ng hindi tamang pagpapasahod, at napakahirap din dahil nga nagkakaroon ng bidding every year.” Alliance of Contractual Employees in UP (ACE-UP) President Dionesio Villanueva said.

The Government Procurement Reform Act requires the government to pick the private manpower agency with the lowest bid. Besides this translating to low salary given to workers, Villanueva explained that such practice meant they are also not guaranteed stable jobs.

“Kung natalo ang employer mo sa bidding, wala ka na rin. Kung ‘di ka na magustuhan ng agency, pwede ka na hindi tanggapin. Sa kontrata, kahit ano na gawin ng agency, wala nang pakialam ang UP.”

‘Our job is as important as theirs’

Non-UP contractual workers also decry the university administration’s silence on the job order which they tag as a mere “sub-contractualization” scheme.

“Hanggang ngayon wala pa rin nilalabas na pahayag ang administrasyon ng UP tungkol sa Joint Circular No. 1. Nangangamba na kami dahil dalawang buwan na lang ang natitira bago ito ma-implement,” Villanueva said.

Villanueva stated that in 2017, UP President Danilo Concepcion assured them that he will turn 50% of the non-UP contractuals into UP contractuals before the end of the year. While the workers’ long-term goal is regularization, such measure would still prevent them from being transferred to private manpower agencies in 2019. However, to this day, 90% are still non-UP contractuals.

These workers have no access to benefits enjoyed by regular employees, such as Social Security System (SSS) contributions, 13th month pay, and service incentive leave. Many of them have also worked in the university for several years, with some reaching more than a decade of service and yet still not being granted regular employment.

Villanueva, himself, has worked as a laboratory aide at the UP Natural Sciences Research Institute since 1998. A function of his job inevitably exposes him to various kinds of harmful elements such as bacteria, and yet it was only in January this year—after nearly two decades of work, that he became a contractual employee and began receiving some benefits such as hazard pay.

“Ang sinasabi kasi sa kontrata namin no’n, ‘no employee-employer relation’, so hindi mo [makukuha] kung ano ‘yung natatanggap ng regular,” he said, adding that there are other workers in UP, such as University Health personnel, who likewise do not receive compensation for what could be constituted as hazardous jobs.

Still, Villanueva maintains that the jobs of the non-UP contractuals are as essential as those of regular UP employees.

“Core and essential functions naman yung trabaho ng mga non-UP contractual, so bakit mo ipapasailalim sa agency?” he said, stressing that the joint circular will only further the suffering of workers already deprived of job security, decent wages, and benefits.

Regularization, not sub-contractualization

In the face of this looming threat, however, non-UP contractuals persist in their fight to put an end to any form of labor contractualization.

Among other steps, they continue to hold discussions in UP campuses nationwide to amplify the issue, in the hopes that their calls would not fall on deaf ears.

ACE-UP has also sent formal letters to the UP administration, requesting for a dialogue as well as support in denouncing agency-hiring. Still, with only two months left before the implementation of the joint circular, they have yet to receive a response.

“May ibang mga ahensya na, gaya ng Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), na naglabas ng waiver na hindi muna nila susundin ‘yung Joint Circular No. 1. Kaya gusto rin namin na ang UP ay magkaro’n na ng posisyon tungkol dito,” said Villanueva.

“At the end of the day, porma parin ang Joint Circular No. 1 ng kontraktwalisasyon. Ang gusto namin ay regularisasyon sa UP, at hindi ang mapasailalim sa agency,” he added.

This article is from Tinig ng Plaridel’s November 2018 print issue. Read the rest of the print articles now on Issuu!

INSIDE: Sagay Massacre, CMC Orgs, UP Workers vs Admin, Kababalaghan sa Halalan, Patintero sa Daan, The Slow Death of Area 2, and the latest in UP sports


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