I’ve been staying away from SM as much as I could since the earthballing of trees at SM Baguio, I even have a new rebate card from another big grocery to prove my disloyalty to the once well loved mall. Recently, convenience had to take priority, I had to make a quick run to SM to do my grocery, and I just can’t help but notice the absence of the usual cheerful energy of the cashier and bagger that I find refreshing upon my check out.
Then I noticed, the vacant eyes of the bagger at the other counter. He was doing his work like an automaton, efficient yet lifeless. His arms were thin, his elbow bones prominent. I, then moved my eyes to the SM staff at my counter. My cashier’s face was pleasant and pretty, but like the bagger across, her arms were just too skinny for me to say that she is just slim. I knew that my cashier was no different from the bagger whom I first observed, that despite the deception of the cosmetics, I knew that they have the same lot in life.
I then wondered, what will become of them upon “endo” or their end of contract?
Is there any way that they can retain their employment especially if they have a good performance record?
News broke out in 2003 that SM has stopped regularizing workers who are undergraduates and instead increased on hiring employees on contractual basis.
I had to confirm this as a fact and when I finally got the opportunity to ask an outgoing contractual on her last day with SM hypermarket, I found out that only college graduates are hired, upon assessment, as regulars after a 6 month probation. For the majority of college undergrads like her who work as cashiers, baggers, warehouse staff etc., the end of six months spell an end contract and re-hiring can only be made possible through an employment agency if you’re “lucky enough”.
“Lucky enough”, doesn’t sit well if a contractual is a working student funding their way through college or a bread winner of a family.
SM, as I was told by a credible source, has the lowest rate of contractual employees upon comparison of ALL mall operators in the Philippines but it is still hard to accept the fact that Henry Sy’s corporation is among those who rode on labor flexibilisation, when infact the old man was a survivor himself and knew the value of hard work and opportunity, meritocracy should then be paramount in his empire.
Contractuals & outsourcing are all impeccable business moves but at the detriment of the population who is highly depend on employment.
“DOLE Order No.18-02 declared the practice of contractualization as legal for as long as it does not fall within the category of “labor only contracting”, which is measured by the amount of capital and control of the supposed employer. Contractualization means replacing regular workers with temporary workers who receive lower wages with no or less benefits. These temporary workers are sometimes called contractuals, trainees, apprentices, helpers, casuals, piece raters, agency-hired, project employees, etc. They do the work of regular workers for a specified and limited period of time, usually less then six months. The work they do is “desirable and necessary” for the company’s survival, but they never become regular employees even if they get rehired repeatedly under new contracts.” (source: http://www.bulatlat.com/news/6-9/6-9-odd.htm)
I once asked an “endo” victim on the possibility of being hired as a regular, given the good service that most SM hypermarket staff provide. She has no idea but she did say that commendations count. I am the type of customer who’s generous on such specially when well-deserved but I also do not waste time complaining about bad service and demand compensation for my inconvenience.
I do hope the next time you do your shopping or grocery and was given excellent service at SM, please have the time to make a commendation. This might spell the difference to an employee’s job security. This effort may be a knee jerk solution to an obvious glitch in labor practice, but not until DOLE and national policies put a stop to this exploitation, that’s the best thing any SM patron can do.
Gusto natin maging marangal ang Pilipino, huwag natin pabayaang magutom ang mga nagtratrabaho ng maayos!
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