King of ‘Endo’

Posted on Updated on

By Miguel Raymundo

The country celebrates Labor Day this week to honor the working class. Sharing the labor front’s woes, OpinYon finds it fitting to tell how dishonored labor made Henry Sy the richest man in this country. This is the story of Ligaya Cruz.

As she walked past SM mall in Makati city, a bitter memory flashed through her mind.

Over a decade ago, Ligaya Cruz and other mall workers were brutally dispersed by the mall’s security guards aided by some baton-wielding policemen for picketing.

She later suffered a miscarriage.

Like their colleagues in other strike-plagued SM branches in Metro Manila then, they protested the so-called “555” – the insidious practice of mall owner, ethnic Chinese taipan Henry Sy, to renew workers’ contracts every five months or after so-called “end of contracts.”

Also referred to as “endo,” such scheme of hiring and firing workers has become alarming across many key industries, specifically in SM, the nation’s largest mall operator.

Ever shrewd that he is, Sy has been resorting to contractualization, obviously to skip labor laws which provide a six-month minimum contract to entitle the workers to certain monetary benefits, including leaves with pay, and the right to join unions.

In 2003 alone, SM employed 20,000 contract workers, the biggest on record by a single retail-based company. That number has since ballooned to over 30,000 now as the tycoon diversified his  money-spinning businesses — ranging from retail to property, banking and finance and tourism infrastructure.

 

Wealth Means Crime

The figures undoubtedly make Sy as the nation’s undisputed king of contractualization, lending credence to widely-held beliefs that for every great wealth, there’s a great crime behind.

Altogether, Sy –the nation’s richest businessman — personifies sheer capitalist greed coupled with a freeloading mindset, casting doubts on his often-told rags-to-riches story.

Not surprising why critics label Sy as the ethnic Chinese tycoon who built his mall empire on the blood and sweat of slave labor, particularly women.

More often than not and with impunity, their contracts are terminated without notice even during peak shopping seasons such as Christmas and school opening, thus the flurry of strikes hounding SM over the past years.

Job contractualization, which has turned the Philippines into a nation of cheap labor, began during the Marcos dictatorship of 1970s-mid-1980s when a decree was signed allowing companies to hire workers on contract for special work.

 

Tenure Versus Contractualization

Amid intense lobbying by profit-hungry business elites, the job contracting scheme has been institutionalized – and legalized — in the succeeding administrations as an integral part of the country’s Labor Code, allowing labor contracting and sub-contracting.

Despite the legal cover, contractualization is considered as labor’s greatest menace.

Paradoxically, while it fattens an employer’s income, it deprives those hired of job security, better pay, benefits and allowances and union rights.

After busting the militant employees’ union at SM in 2003, Sy has since banned labor activities across its malls and department stores. Any sign of union organizing effort among employees is immediately met with sanction or outright termination.

 

Amid rising restiveness in the labor sector, not a few lawmakers have proposed passage of House Bill 5110, or An Act Strengthening the Workers’ Security of Tenure. It noted that there are millions of skilled and talented Filipinos in the labor force today who don’t have regular jobs. They are forever trapped in the vicious cycle of grinding poverty.

 

Jobs Abroad

Daily, some 6,000 Filipinos leave at Manila’s ports to look for jobs abroad, no matter the slave-like working conditions awaiting them in foreign lands.

Attempts by labor leaders to muster political support for the bill fell on deaf ears.

Last year on the eve of Labor Day on May 1, they asked President Aquino to certify the long-stalled bill as urgent.

To their dismay, Aquino thumbed down the request, arguing that the bill—if approved – would pose more harm than good to his much-ballyhooed job-creation program.

“Companies might hesitate to hire because of certain provisions and therefore, deprive our workers of the opportunity to gain employment, “he argued.

To Aquino, he reckoned that should the bill become a law, only 1.8 million would benefit, while an estimated 10 million Filipinos could lose their jobs. His figures run counter to the faceless and countless multitudes of jobless Filipinos.

 

Aquino Pro-Capitalist

In reaction, labor leaders warned that as long as President Aquino sides with the capitalists at workers’ expense, this country will continue to wallow into the mire of poverty.

“Our already constrained wages have remained stagnated since Aquino came into power,” they said, adding that regular jobs have become very scarce.

Worse, the increase in contributions to the Social Security System and PhilHealth had added a financial burden to the lowly paid workers in the midst of surging poverty level.

Another adverse factor which could diminish the workers’ purchasing power is the impending hike in the price of liquefied petroleum gas and electricity and the transport fares of state-run Metro Rail Transit and Light Rail Transit in Metro Manila.

“All these are detrimental to ordinary wage-earners as the government continues to sacrifice our welfare in the altar of corporate interests and has remained inutile to our most pressing concerns,” the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) said in a statement.

 

Political Will

Summing up, the militant labor group noted that “the past three and a half years have opened our eyes to the painful truth that the Aquino government is undeniably anti-worker to its very core.”

As contractualization persists, there’s no denying that overall, it only led to a sharp decline of the Filipino workers’ level of productivity, one of the lowest in the Asean region.

Added to a dehumanizing pay scale and the government’s neglect of their plight, no wonder why labor has increasingly turned to militancy, driving away potential investors.

This explains why job-creating foreign direct investments had shied away from the Philippines, not to mention its excessive tax rates, leading to a jobless economic growth.

These days, bureaucrats boast that the economy is one of Asia’s fastest-growing and yet inexplicably, jobs and other income-earning opportunities had become increasingly next to impossible to find.

 

The hard reality is that unemployment rate rose to 27.5 percent, or an estimated 12.1 million, as 2.5 million Filipinos joined the ranks of the jobless between September and December last year.

The unemployment rate soared even as the economy surprisingly grew 7.2 percent, the second-fastest after China’s, showing that the economic growth was not inclusive.

Three labor groups—Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, Partido ng Manggagawa and Kilusang Mayo Uno — warned that “jobless economic growth” would continue unless the evil of contractualization is decisively addressed with political will.

 

The harder reality is, the likes of Henry Sy, mega-investors and rags-to-multi-billion American dollar wealthy, have taken control over government.They have the power to order Congress to craft laws intended to exploit labor and the natural wealth of the country.

Their likes can bend laws and corrupt people in the courts of justice and “rob” farmlands from poor peasants. Worst, they make even the President their puppet,while burying the Filipino in deeper poverty.

 

Advertisements

7 thoughts on “King of ‘Endo’

    amee said:
    June 27, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    STOP BUYING AT SM MALLS AND STOP MAKING THEM RICH. I SPENT SO MUCH MONEY FOR SM FOR SO MANY YEARS AND I EXPERIENCE THEIR GREEDINESS AND ABUSE WHEN I WORK FOR ONE OF THEIR TENANTS AND SUFFERED ABUSE, INSTEAD OF HELPING ME THEY INSTEAD COVERED UP AND TOLD ME THE TENANT PAYS THEM WELL SO THEY DON’T CARE ABOUT HOW THEY RUN THE BUSINESS AS LONG AS THEY PAY RENT. POOR PEOPLE ARE TO BLAME YOU MADE HENRY SY AND HE’S GREEDY FAMILY RICH, AND I AM GUILTY TOO BECAUSE OF SO MANY YEARS OF SHOPPING IN THAT STUPID DEVIL MALLS. BUT NOW I NEVER SHOP THERE ANYMORE. SANA TAMAAN NG KIDLAT ANG MALLS NILA AT MASUNOG LAHAT.

    Anne said:
    May 18, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    Malaki problema talaga yang contractualization! I fully agree w/the author except the blaming of P-noy because as President of this highly divided & mercurial people, so many balancing acts he has to do! So many deep seated problem of corruption where majority of tongressmen, senatongs, gov’t officials are involved even those in the judiciary! There’s local subversion problem of NPAs & Muslims & in the international front, The greedy China! Another problem also are the sometimes whimsical labor unions like what happened tto. P & G, & other multinationals which instead chose to get out of the Country due to labor unrest. I have 2 niece & nephews who are suffering as described that w/o my support, their earnings can’t not tie them over much more when endo comes! Kawawa talaga! And once I read that Sys was given a highest award for their accomplishments/contribution! ABSURDITY to the max!

    peter parker said:
    May 12, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    That is a lot off bull********. Does anybody know that SM stands for Sy Marcos. The capitalization is almost all the plundered wealth of our country! SM belongs to us. We the People! Sy is just a puppet. How can anybody as ugly as that be able to accumulate that capitalization unless the devil gave it to him. God made him ugly the devil made him rich. i guess he like the tradeoff.

    victor said:
    May 1, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    e sino ba nagakda nyan kundi ang ulol na pilantod na herrera law siguro nung panahon nayon malaki binayad ng hinayupak na henry sy na yan pinakamayaman daw hindi po pinakaswapang na tao sa buong mundo basta pagkakaperahan bale wala ang pinoy e ano ba yan di put intsik yung hinayu na yan isama mo yung anak ng pu na si herrera kaya nagkaletse letse labor sa pinas tapos yung mga labor org kuno lumalaban hindi po ibebenta po nila cba sa mgt

    RChavez said:
    April 30, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    What we have in the country is not free market capitalism. Some would suggest either crony capitalism or oligarchy is more suitable. As for me, our economic woes are the long-term results of interventionist policies. Kindly read Henry Hazlitt’s “Economics in One Lesson.”

    Julius Doyungan said:
    April 30, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    wala naman umaasenso kasi sa pagiging empleyado.. SO START A BUSINESS AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

    richard said:
    April 30, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    Finish your studies and graduate atleast a degree holder while you can still earn. This way, you won’t suffer these endo. Many Filipinos complains of what they have and where they are, yet only few do something about it.

Speak your mind!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s