[EDITORIAL] Middle ground

January 31, 2018 at 15:00

[EDITORIAL] Middle ground

The people are a nation’s most valuable resource. Workers need meaningful employment and protection from exploitation and abuse, not only for their own welfare but also for the employers’ sake, since productivity is enhanced when workers are treated fairly.

Those providing jobs, however, also need protection to keep their enterprises viable and profitable enough for sustained operations and growth.

Balancing the needs of workers and employers has always been a delicate, challenging task. The balancing act is urgently needed as Congress deliberates on measures that seek to protect workers from contractual employment schemes. Employers have warned that some of the proposed reforms could kill businesses and drive away investments and jobs.

There are certain types of jobs that for reasonable and practical purposes are contracted to be non-permanent. Certain types of jobs also cannot have security of tenure in a particular organization. The Duterte administration will understand this clearly as it embarks on its envisioned massive “Build Build Build” infrastructure program, with many projects awarded to private contractors.

The contractual scheme, however, has been abused by some quarters, with employees lacking security of tenure even if they have performed regular jobs for several years. The operative word should be abuse, which is what lawmakers should set out to stop through legislation.

In drawing up the reforms, a middle ground must be struck. Workers need protection, especially if the nation wants to ease or end the continuing departure of Filipinos for jobs overseas. Those who generate jobs, however, also need to be reassured that they won’t be required to turn their businesses into virtual charity operations.

For businesses to survive, they need to be profitable, with the owners having reasonable control over their manpower requirements. If investors can’t get that reassurance from the Philippines, they are likely to turn to neighboring countries. That means a loss of Philippine jobs.

Both employers and organized labor have strong voices at the bargaining table. For the health of the economy and inclusive prosperity, lawmakers must listen to those voices and find a middle ground in confronting the problems arising from contractualization.

Source: https://www.philstar.com/opinion/2018/01/30/1782626/editorial-middle-ground

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