At least 1,733 workers in Eastern Visayas have been regular employees in 2017 as the central government steps up drive to end labor-only contracting or “endo”, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) reported.

Of the number, 1,009 benefitted the campaign when their employers voluntarily complied with the directive to stop “endo.”

Some 744 workers attained regular employment status after labor inspection activities.

“Because of limited manpower, our strategy is to inspect establishments vulnerable to this type of arrangements such as shopping malls, hotels, restaurants, food chains, gas stations, manufacturing, construction, transport, and fishing industry,” said DOLE Eastern Visayas Regional Director Joel Gonzales.

The regional office has only 20 labor inspectors tasked to check the compliance of thousands of business establishments in the region’s six provinces.

Gonzales said that while they have been strengthening the campaign to eliminate labor-only contracting, they have to take into consideration that some business owners are not fully aware of that the practice is unlawful and some are incapable to provide benefits to regular workers.

“We have to extend assistance to employers who are not aware that the labor-only contracting system is unlawful, but we also issue orders to non-compliant companies,” he added.

The inspection last year has covered 1,566 establishments. This was pushed after conducting employer’s forum on DOLE Department Order (DO) No. 174.

On March 19, 2017, the labor department released the DO no. 174, laying down its new regulations governing contracting and subcontracting arrangements.

The DOLE adopted two tracks in eliminating illegitimate contractualization, including labor-only contracting or endo.

In the first track, the DOLE regional offices conducted series of consultations and meetings to encourage employers to voluntarily regularize workers who are under the unlawful arrangements.

For the second track, labor laws compliance officers inspected establishments, principals and contractors which are practicing labor-only contracting arrangements.

Those found to be engaged in labor-only contracting are subjected to mandatory conferences to assist them in their compliance with labor standards. (PNA)