Summary of Discussion:
- Introductions - Former DOLE Usec. Chato and TESDA Deputy Director General Irene Isaac, now consultants of Senator Villanueva, started off by saying that since they are well aware of the advocacies of ECCP and the Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC), they are happy to continue the partnership and build upon the work that has been done in order to push the legislative reforms sought by the chambers.
- ENDO - Following the President’s own pronouncements, the legislative priority of the Senate Committee on Labor is the outlawing of End-of-Contract (ENDO). Several bills have been filed and set for hearing. We expressed our support against practices where employers resort to ENDO to avoid regularizing employees and giving statutory benefits. However, we also cautioned that there are certain industries where the employer only requires the services of an expert or a specific skills set for a fixed period for setting up and transfer of know-how. Chato and Isaac agreed and asked us to articulate this position during the committee hearings.
- Apprenticeship Bill - As this bill did not make it in the previous Congress, we expressed our hope that the bill will be passed this time. We explained how this bill dovetails the implementation of the K-12 program and should thus be passed without further delay. Also, safeguards have been introduced to the last version in order to address the concerns raised by Senator Drilon on potential abuses by employers resorting to apprenticeship instead of hiring regular employees. The senate staff assured that this bill will be high on the priority of the Senate Committee on Labor.
- Seafarer claims - We expressed concern on pro-seafarer policy and execution of NLRC labor arbiters’ decisions pending appeal. With its archipelagic geography and abundant competent workforce, the Philippines has a high potential to develop a blue economy. However, foreign shipowners may look to other ASEAN countries and China with less risks of liability for seafarer claims if this issue is not addressed.