DOLE’s move vs. Eton subcontractor, too little, too late – KMU

Labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno slammed the Labor Department today for its late response to the case of an illegal subcontractor of Eton Properties that has failed to pay its workers, saying the workers’ had to act first before the agency could have done something.

The department initiated an investigation into Renie Construction (RPL Construction), a subcontractor of real estate giant Eton Properties only after 52 of its workers trooped to a police station to file a complaint against the company for failing to pay their wages.

“The Labor Department’s action against the illegal contractor of Eton Properties is just too little, too late. The investigation and Baldoz’s tirades against the subcontractor are aimed at saving the department’s face for failing to do its job of ensuring that workers get their wages,” KMU chairperson Elmer “Bong” Labog said.

“What’s the use of the Labor Department if it fails to monitor and act immediately on violations of workers rights, especially non-payment of wages? It has continuously reduced its role in monitoring labor rights violations and has allowed capitalists to exploit workers to the bone,” he added.

KMU blamed the existence of companies like Renie Construction on the Labor Department’s Order No. 18-A Series of 2011, which legalizes contractual labor.

“The problem is not simply illegitimate subcontractors, like what Baldoz says. The real problem is not just the illegal subcontractors, but the legalization of subcontracting itself,” Labog said.

“Subcontracting has been used by big capitalists such as Lucio Tan for evading the most basic responsibilities to workers. In many cases, subcontractors serve as big capitalists’ protection from criminal prosecution over workers’ deaths,” he added.

The militant labor center cited the case of the Eton Tower tragedy in Makati City as an example of how the legalization of subcontracting made it easier for employers to evade responsibilities to workers.

“Until now, there’s no justice over the death of 11 workers in Eton Makati. The culprit in the tragedy caused by employers’ neglect for workers’ health and safety roams freely and continues to violate workers’ rights through subcontracting,” Labog said.

The labor center demanded the junking of DO 18-A and the legislation of House Bill 5110 or the Regular Employment Bill, which aims to strengthen workers’ right to security of tenure by penalizing various labor contracting and subcontracting schemes.

“The DO 18-A is a menace that violates workers’ rights to security of tenure. It should be junked immediately to prevent the ills of labor contracting and subcontracting,” Labog said.

“We urge the House of Representatives to pass the Regular Employment Bill to give our workers’ weapon against further attacks on our job security, health and safety and other workers’ rights” he ended.


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