Asiapro, Sagot sa Endo

ASIAPRO, SAGOT SA ENDO

An idea whose time has come

”We inspire meaningful and fulfilled lives with our members.”

This purpose defines who we are, what we believe in and what we aspire for. Inspired by the vision to see marginalized, low-income workers enjoy the full benefits of regular employment, sixty members pooled their resources to establish Asiapro in November 1999 as a pioneer workers cooperative in the Philippines.

Asiapro was to serve as an alternative solution to end decades of workers’ struggles associated with contractualization, particularly in its widespread and abused form called ‘endo’ (short for ‘end of contract’) or ‘555’. Under this work arrangement, businesses hire workers for only about 5 months without security of tenure, monetary, non-monetary and social protection benefits. “They then rehire workers or renew contracts with the agency if employers still wanted to pursue their services. Other employers create dummy manpower or recruitment agencies for them to avoid direct employee-employers relationship.”[1]

As a progressive social enterprise where every worker is also a member-owner, Asiapro will set the difference in the years to come.

Providing workers with full and productive livelihood

Asiapro takes care of 49,311[2] workers who serve client-companies in the agribusiness, construction, manufacturing, hotel and restaurant, engineering, education and training, sales and marketing, IT/technical and services sectors. As member-owners, these workers enjoy security of tenure and receive all the benefits due to full-time workers[3]. On top of mandated wages and statutory benefits, every worker is entitled to premium-free life and medical insurance coverage, continuing training and development and share of earnings from the cooperative’s businesses.

While no study exists to measure Asiapro’s direct economic impact, an estimated 226,000 individuals representing the family members of these workers (at 4.6 members/family based on the 2010 Census of Population and Housing by the National Statistics Office) benefit from the jobs created through the cooperative. Most live in rural communities across nine regions in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

As a tested, working concept in spurring local economic activity, the Asiapro model is “a major mechanism for job creation and income generation and, as a consequence, for the struggle against poverty.”[4] Interestingly, this synchronizes with item #5 – “promote rural and value chain development”[5], of newly elected President Rodrigo R Duterte’s 10-point Socioeconomic Agenda.

Protecting the marginalized against economic instability

Sa Asiapro, “bawat isa, mahalaga”.

Asiapro exceeds the norm in protecting every worker’s well-being. From mainstream labor services to other business ventures such as savings and credit services, transport services and contract growing, the cooperative generates multiple streams of income sources to protect its marginalized workers against economic instability.

Because every worker is also a co-owner, his economic participation yields additional earnings in various forms like share of surplus from the coop’s businesses as well as interest on capital contribution and savings. These are consolidated and distributed semi-annually under the Members Financial Program.

Every member of Asiapro is also entitled to packages of assistance. “These financial packages, in the form of livelihood, multi-purpose, emergency, educational, and other types of low-interest loans, were formed as a response to the limited financial capabilities of its worker-members, especially the minimum wage earners.”[6] Members who avail of these loan services receive additional earnings through patronage refunds.

In 2015, the Asiapro Foundation was created to expand the cooperative’s social protection of coop members, their families and communities. Its pipeline of community-based initiatives aims to cushion the impact of socio-economic challenges by opening access to education/training, clean water, livelihood programs and food security.

Collectively, these additional entitlements and offerings stand way above and beyond the basic requirements of the Labor Code. These ensure broader protection for the marginalized, one of the causes being championed by the Duterte administration, under item #9 – “protect the poor against economic instability and economic shocks”[7] of its 10-point Socioeconomic Agenda.

Investing in the continuing development of workers

In spite of Asiapro’s phenomenal size, growth and reach, investing to develop every worker, who is also a member, remains a key priority. “All members and prospective members of Asiapro receive training in membership and cooperative skills. Different trainings are given to members, depending on the focus of expertise and position.”[8] These continuing programs promote first-rate performance – internally, to enable Asiapro’s leaders to effectively address members’ needs and concerns, and externally, for members to match their skills and training towards raising work productivity and satisfying clients’ demands.

For setting global standards in worker management, Asiapro achieved a milestone by earning the Investors in People (IiP)[9] certificate in 2011. It became the first and remains up to now the only workers cooperative in the Philippines to have received such recognition. In an even more significant move upward, Investors in People awarded Asiapro with Bronze accreditation by the end of 2015.

Dedicated and seasoned professionals lead Asiapro. Their synergy of experience and expertise, in disciplines ranging from business management, marketing, human resources, information technology, finance to academic teaching, all contribute to Asiapro’s sustained success. This diversity has been integral to its member-owners’ development, the coop’s exponential growth and its impact on countryside development.

While education and training are already a mature practice in Asiapro[10], it is interesting to note that this runs parallel with the Duterte administration’s thrust to “invest in human and capital development”[11] as stated under item #7 of its 10-point Socioeconomic Agenda.

The long awaited antidote to ‘endo’?

The clear cut distinction between Asiapro and most manpower service providers, particularly those engaged in ‘endo’, is that every member of the cooperative holds the unique status of being its worker and co-owner at the same time. Because Asiapro is a D.O. 18-A-registered employer, employee-employer relationship exists and labor standards are fully complied with. Security of tenure, the most cherished labor right among our workers[12] and other mandated entitlements are guaranteed for each member.

While almost 35 million contractual workers out of the country’s working population of 67.1 million[13] still cope with the daily uncertainties of contractual work, Asiapro has generated, over a span of sixteen years, exponential numbers of secure and sustainable jobs for marginalized workers – who are also its member-owners – nationwide.

ADDITIONAL FACTS & FIGURES

Asiapro paid out more than Php 7B to its member-owners in 2015, based on an average of 313 working days per year and member count of 49,311, with the help of more than 200 client-partners:

Total Amount Per Capita
Members’ Share in the Service Surplus 7,563,459,797.00 153,382.81
Retirement Fund Provision 90,436,817.00 1,834.01
Members Financial Program 167,129,474.00 3,389.29
Interest on Capital & Patronage Refund 13,838,782.00 280.64
Other Benefits 113,122,788.00 2,294.07
Total Members Share 7,947,987,658.00 161,180.82

Asiapro remits workers’ contributions for government-mandated benefits religiously and on time. The cooperative and its members remitted an amount close to a total of Php 1B in 2015.

Total Amount
SSS 614,959,048.94
Philhealth 133,709,965.00
Pag-Ibig 127,895,800.00
Total Government-Mandated Benefits 876,564,813.94

News articles cited Asiapro for its best practices

 

Additional information in our website

  • Our Purpose and Principles – http://asiapro.coop/purpose-principles/
  • Members testimonials – http://asiapro.coop/member-testimonials/
  • Asiapro Foundation – http://asiapro.coop/asiapro-foundation/

 

Asiapro’s long established practices support, if not reinforce items #5, 7 and 9 of the new administration’s 10-point Socioeconomic Agenda

 

10ptagenda

Footnotes:

[1] “35M contractuals hope for end to ‘endo’”, The Manila Times, 25 April 2016

[2] Asiapro Member Count (average membership in 2015)

[3] Villegas, Bernardo M., “Solving the Problem of Contractualization” (Part 2), The Manila Bulletin online, 21 July 2016

[4] International Labor Organization, “Promotion of Cooperatives Recommendation”, 2002 (No. 193)

[5] Item #5, President-elect Duterte’s Proposed 10-Point Socioeconomic Agenda

[6] L. Ramirez, A. Domingo & L. Parma, Social Enterprise 4: Work that Uplifts Human Life (Asiapro: Excellence Beyond Productivity) p. 14, University of Asia and the Pacific

[7] Item #9, President-elect Duterte’s Proposed 10-Point Socioeconomic Agenda

[8] L. Ramirez, A. Domingo & L. Parma, Social Enterprise 4: Work that Uplifts Human Life (Asiapro: Excellence Beyond Productivity) p. 110, UA&P

[9] Investors in People (IiP) is an internationally-recognized U.K-based organization which has set the standard for better people management since 1991 and accredited over 14,000 organizations worldwide.

[10] L. Ramirez, A. Domingo & L. Parma, Social Enterprise 4: Work that Uplifts Human Life (Asiapro: Excellence Beyond Productivity) p. 110, UA&P

[11] Item #7, President-elect Duterte’s Proposed 10-Point Socioeconomic Agenda

[12] Speech of Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III, p. 3, 37th National Conference of Employers, 13 July 2016

[13] “35M contractuals hope for end to ‘endo’”, The Manila Times, 25 April 2016