The Senate Committee on Labor, Employment, and Human Resource Development organized a public hearing and inquiry last 9 August 2018 in aid of the legislation for Senate Resolution No. 810.
The public hearing and inquiry looked into the conduct of inspections by DOLE labor laws compliance officers, discuss the process, and the circumstances of the PLDT case, to discover how the NutriAsia strike became violent, and to determine if current laws are adequate to solve the root of the problems being encountered by both employers and workers.
During the public hearing and inquiry, DOLE Undersecretary Joel Maglunsod acknowledged that the process of inspection is not perfect and there are gaps in the current law and in the actual process. He also highlighted that security of tenure has been included in the checklist of inspectors and as of July, 119,728 companies have been inspected and approximately 300,000 workers have been regularized. He also condemned the violent dispersal of NutriAsia workers.
Former workers from NutriAsia and PLDT were given time to discuss their side of the story.
In response, the management of NutriAsia and PLDT were also given the chance to address the issues raised by the representatives from the union side.
Ms. Angie Flaminiano, President of NutriAsia, explained that employees involved in the formulation of products and manufacturing/cooking, as well as those who know proprietary information and trade secrets are regular employees whereas the employees involved in bottling, distribution, and warehousing are outsourced. On 25 June, DOLE Region 3 decided that the workers on strike have an employer-employee relationship with B-Mirk and not with NutriAsia. She asserted that the workers on strike did not participate in the mediation meetings and mechanisms being implemented by DOLE. The workers also withdrew at the last minute on a settlement agreement that was already accepted by NutriAsia and B-Mirk.
Following NutriAsia was PLDT HR Head Mr. Menardo Jimenez Jr. who clarified first and foremost that PLDT did not terminate the affected workers. The termination arose from DOLE’s immediately executory order to regularize workers of PLDT as well as a cease and desist order for SPi. Mr. Jimenez also emphasized that as far as the law is concerned, PLDT is allowed to outsource jobs that are not part of the company’s core business.
NutriAsia and PLDT identified the functions they consider as parts of their core businesses. According to NutriAsia, positions involved in the cooking of their food products as well as intellectual property rights are core positions. As for PLDT, core positions are jobs that if aren’t performed, would lead to shut down. The provision of telecommunication services is their core business which excludes addressing customer concerns.
Senator Villanueva also asked DOLE the steps they have taken during labor inspections. BWC Director Dr. Cucueco clarified that Department Order 174 is used as a basis for determining labor-only contracting and that DOLE has already started the process of determining which functions could be contracted out. Director Cucueco’s statements were supported by DOLE Region 3 Office Director Zenaida Campita.
To conclude the public hearing and inquiry, Senator Villanueva reiterated that the current law has ambiguous provisions which necessitates an amended law that is clear and balance, benefiting not only workers, but also protecting the interest of employers.