Marcos urged to OK anti-endo, higher wages after key labor issues left out of SONA

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 27) — President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. failed to raise some key labor issues during his first State of the Nation Address (SONA), but the country's largest labor union on Wednesday expressed hopes that important measures will still be passed under his term to ease the lives of Filipino workers.

"We were waiting for the labor component, 'diba medyo mahaba (it was quite long). We were waiting for the security of tenure or anti-endo and about wage," Deputy Speaker and Trade Union Congress of the Philippines Party-list Rep. Raymond Mendoza told CNN Philippines' The Source, referring to Monday's SONA.

He added that despite Marcos' silence on the issues in his speech, they are are hopeful that the 19th Congress under the leadership of newly-appointed Speaker Martin Romualdez will approve the anti-endo measure and have it eventually enacted into a law.

Mendoza himself already filed House Bill 1512 or an Act Strengthening Workers' Right to Security of Tenure and Criminalizing Labor-Only Contracting earlier this month, but it has yet to be referred to a committee in the House of Representatives. He added that he has also tackled the matter with Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma.

Some senators like Sen. Risa Hontiveros and Sen. Joel Villanueva also filed anti-endo bills as part of their priority measures in the 19th Congress.

"End of contract" or "endo" is a hotly contested form of contractualization widely practiced in the country, where workers are hired for not more than five months so employers don't need to regularize them on the sixth month as mandated by the Labor Code.

Former President Rodrigo Duterte vetoed the Security of Tenure and End of Endo Act that lawmakers passed in 2019.

Meanwhile, Mendoza urged the current administration to reconsider another wage increase amid increasing prices of fuel and basic commodities.

Mendoza said a daily wage of a little over ₱500 is "very low," especially for a household already burdened by inflation in the country.

"I asked Mr. Secretary, 'is it the policy now to give out minimum wages that are actually not survivable for a family of five below poverty?'," the congressman said, citing his past meeting with Laguesma.

The basic pay rate in Metro Manila is currently at ₱570 for the non-agriculture sector and ₱533 for those in the agriculture sector, after the labor department granted workers a ₱33 wage hike in May.

READ: Wage hike approved in Metro Manila, Western Visayas — DOLE