Only in the Philippines would the term “endo”—short for “end of contract”—be understood and appreciated by millions. The term found its way into the national consciousness the painful way—through the actual experience of millions of workers who are employed just a little under six months under a contract.
During this period, the workers get salaries but no benefits, and no certainty whether they would get hired again.
This has been a convenient scheme for employers who need the manpower but do not want to provide security of tenure —and all the costs that come with it—to their people.
At the presidential debate last Sunday, the five candidates were asked what they intended to do to address the injustice, long acknowledged but persistent, nonetheless.
The rivals agreed the labor practice had to end and offered various plans for it. One said she would lower corporate taxes to offset the additional operational costs to be incurred by employers, stressing that secure employees are more productive.
Another, as always given to exaggeration, said contractualization would stop the moment he assumes the presidency.
One candidate said the law protecting workers against this practice was simply not being implemented; yet another said he would fix the loopholes in that law.
We have every reason to take the candidates’ pronouncements with a grain of salt; after all, how many promises have been made in the name of the pursuit of victory only to be abandoned later?
Workers put up with the injustice because they have no other option—it is either job insecurity or no job at all. Whoever wins, we will hold the new president accountable for his or her pronouncement if only because the issue has long festered: distorting the job market, creating illusions of productivity, denying workers the opportunity to grow and to plan, and most especially keeping them powerless against “market forces.”