Church leaders: SM ‘lying’ about contractualization issue

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MANILA, April 30, 2016— Church-based labor organizations criticized one of the country’s largest conglomerates SM Investments Corp. for claiming it does not hire contractual employees.

Catholic priest Fr. Rudy Abao, a convenor of the Church-Workers Solidarity, said it is common knowledge that it is standard practice in billionaire tycoon Mr. Henry Sy’s holding company to hireand fire workers after five months.

“So what they are saying is a complete opposite to what these workers are telling us,” said Abao during a press conference at the Archdiocese of Manila headquarters in Manila on Friday.

“There are many young people that are employed by SM who come to us saying that they are contractual workers,” he said.

Sy yesterday denied SMIC is implementing labor contractualization, a practice described by CWS as “anti-worker employment scheme.”

He said the company is instead hiring workers on “seasonal” basis such as during the opening of classes and Christmas season to beef up its workforce.

Fr. Rex Reyes, secretary general of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), said employers can use as many adjectives as they want but the law on contractualization is “very clear.”

“So any practice that will not follow the labor law, it’s still contractualization because they avoid … providing the right and proper benefits to employees,” said Reyes.

For, Bro. Philip Michael Benavidez, a seminarian and labor rights advocate, the SMIC’s assertion that it does not practice contractualization “is perpetuated by lies.”

“Whoever said that is giving [in to] a delusion,” he said. “We, Church people, listen to workers themselves.”

The labor rights advocates denounced the Aquino administration, despite its six years in power, for supposedly failing to recognize the workers, who prop up the country’s economy.

CWS lamented that workers remain at the sidelines of the society, oftentimes having their voices “drowned out by politics of greed.”

“The private corporations may be providing economic growth but the expense of the workers,” said Sr. Lyn Leuterio, ICM, of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Novaliches.

Also present during the press conference were representatives from the Task Force on Urban Conscientization, a mission partner of AMRSP, and the Promotion of Church People’s Response.

Aside from an end to contractualization, the CWS also demanded for the implementation of just wages; institute industrial and labor policies to ensure workers’ safety; intensification of the protection of the dignity and labor rights of OFWs; and combining work with the preservation of ecological integrity. (R. Lagarde/CBCPNews) 

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