During the past few months, contractualization and endo (short for ‘end of contract’) have become two of the hottest and most sensitive topics in the Philippines. Ranking high among the major issues during the presidential elections last year, labor groups and presidential candidates weighed in on these subjects and argued about the effects of contractualization and endo on Filipino workers.
As the debates continue, more and more people begin to offer their opinion. However, common misconceptions about what endo and contractualization actually are, may sometimes lead to confusing arguments – an issue Asiapro strives to resolve by defining what both first.
What is Endo?
End of contract or endo refers to the scheme that corrupt companies exercise to abuse their workers. In the Philippines, the law requires companies to regularize their workers after six months. Unfortunately, some corporations terminate their workers a month or two before their sixth month of employment. Why? Because this means that they do not have to regularize those workers. Instead, they just hire then terminate their contracts within this five-month period and continually repeat this process to create a vicious cycle of ‘end of contract’ or ‘endo.
This has two results: one, it will prevent these laborers from enjoying the full benefits of regular employment such as 13th month pay. Two, it will allow companies to utilize the skills and talents of these workers without properly compensating them for their efforts.
However, it must be made clear that endo – otherwise known as 555 – still falls under contractualization. Simply put, it is an abuse of contractualization’s inherently temporary nature of employment.
However, there are companies in certain industries that hire contractual laborers for various reasons that do not necessarily violate the basic rights of these workers. For instance, a publishing company might hire contractual workers during the last month of school, throughout summer, and up until the first few months of a new school year. Why? Because during this time, schools will be making their orders and textbooks have to be delivered swiftly. However, the demand for book deliveries will not be that high for the rest of the year. Therefore, it will make more sense to hire contractual workers only during the peak season. Otherwise, the company may find itself employing and compensating unproductive staff during idle stretches of the year.
Here’s another example: a certain department in a company is experiencing some problems with its personnel. To fix the situation, management decides to hire an HR expert as a contractual worker who can provide professional insight on the issue and offer solutions to help remedy the problem. Since this is purely situational, it would make no sense to hire an HR expert as a full-time employee.
This is what contractualization is – a practice where a company hires contractual workers only when is necessary. This does not only benefit the company, but the workers as well. After all, how will workers grow professionally if a company hires them to work during limited periods of the year only? Instead of working full time for one business, contractual workers may work on other projects when they want to continue earning money and enhance if not learn new skills to advance their careers. This will not just give them total control over their schedule, but expand their knowledge and experience readily as well.
Meanwhile, endo operates under the guise of contractualization to exploit workers. In endo, companies hire workers for full-time positions, only to terminate their contracts before they are regularized, and then hire them again for another five months.
How Does Endo Affect Filipinos?
Why do various labor groups in the country want to end the practice of endo? The answer is simple: endo is an abuse of the Filipino workers’ rights. It is an unfair labor practice that should be prohibited to protect marginalized workers.
Endo has a huge negative impact on Filipinos’ lives. Through this unjust practice, companies refrain from regularizing their workers who have been employed for six months or longer. Aside from not receiving due compensation, they are deprived of the benefits enjoyed by full-time employees such as paid leaves, 13th month pay, and government mandated SSS, Philhealth, and Pag-IBIG coverage, among other mandatory requirements.
Minimum wage earners and student workers are the ones who are often victimized by this unfair labor practice.
What are Asiapro’s Efforts in Eliminating Endo?
Although endo is practiced by numerous employers, there is no reason for Filipinos to lose hope. There are employers out there that do not – and will never – take advantage of workers by hiring them as contractual workers, only to terminate their contracts a month before their regularization. One of them is Asiapro, a multi-purpose cooperative that aims to end the struggle of Filipino workers on endo.
How does Asiapro do that? Unlike a number of manpower agencies, Asiapro always puts the higher interests of its workers who are also member-owners, first and foremost. This ensures that its member-owners will not be abused through the unlawful practice of contractualization but will receive proper compensation and benefits.
That’s right. Asiapro member-owners enjoy security of tenure and receive proper wages and statutory benefits that are mandated for regular employees. It goes beyond what its member-owners expect of them by providing them with life and medical insurance, proper training and development, and a portion of the cooperative’s earnings as well.
In its effort to provide its member-owners with a steady source of income, Asiapro invested in several other businesses. And as a multi-purpose cooperative, portions of its earnings from these ventures are distributed to our member-owners.
In the end, Filipinos should not forget that there is a distinct difference between endo and contractualization as a legitimate business practice. With this, every worker should recognize between employers who abuse or protect workers’ rights. As a social enterprise, Asiapro continuously fights for marginalized Filipino workers and their rights. The evidence is in how it has continued to provide secure and full employment for its member-owners for almost two decades already.