Displaced PLDT workers cry foul over CA ruling on regularization order

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 5) — Employees of a telecommunications company are disappointed after the Court of Appeals (CA) blocked the Labor Department's regularization order.

Dan Joshua Nazario, a protest leader of displaced workers of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT), said Saturday, "Galit kami sa desisyon na ito. Sobrang galit kami, bakit ganito ang desisyon ng Court of Appeals, pabor na naman. Kelan ba magiging pabor ang Court of Appeals sa manggagawa?"

[Translation: We are angry at this decision. We are very angry, why is the Court of Appeals' decision like this? When has the Court of Appeals ever been in favor or workers?]

In its ruling, the CA said only workers of contractors performing installation, repairs and maintenance services of PLDT lines should be considered regular employees.

The court maintained the workers of contractors engaged in janitorial, messengerial and clerical, information technology, call center agents, sales, and even medical and dental, and other professional services should remain as independent contractors.

Earlier, PLDT filed a petition before the CA, questioning the Labor Department's directive to regularize workers.

However, it failed to secure a hold order.

In July, the Labor Department reminded the telco to comply, and gave the company until the end of the month to regularize its workers.

However, the court coincidentally issued  its ruling on July 31.

Workers are now vowing to stage mass demonstrations against PLDT and the court beginning next week.

"Sa DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment), dapat panagutan nila itong nangyari sa manggagawa. Imbes na regularisasyon, bakit natanggal kami sa aming trabaho? Dapat nila kaming ibalik. And kay Pangulong Duterte, dapat pangunahan niya itong regularisasyon namin dahil siya ang nangako na tatanggilin nya ang endo," Nazario said.

[Translation:The DOLE should own up to what happened to workers. Instead of regularization, why were we removed from our jobs? They should reinstate us. And to President Duterte, he should pay attention to our regularization because he promised to remove endo.]

"Endo" or "end of contract" is a highly contested form of contractualization widely practiced in the country -- 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. It strips millions of workers of all the benefits granted by law to regular employees.

CNN Philippines tried getting Secretary Silvestre Bello's reaction on the court's ruling, however, he has not responded to any requests for comment.

In a press conference Thursday, Bello promised to provide assistance to the displaced workers through the agency's emergency employment program.

PLDT has also deferred from commenting, saying they would issue their statement next week upon clearance from the Philippine Stock Exchange.

The displaced workers plan to escalate their complaints before lawmakers in a Senate hearing on August 9.

CNN Philippines senior digital producer Eimor Santos contributed to this report.