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Rough Cuts | Bastardizing the work contracting ban

Should we be surprised if President Rodrigo Duterte rants against big businesses that are holding monopolistic concessions on important basic utility services like water distribution?

Of course no because we are very much aware that the President’s ranting would end up benefiting the consuming public.

But what would perhaps surprise many is if the President would be unable to get wind of the practices of corporations owning franchises in electricity distribution and telecommunications.

Yes, many of these companies especially the telcos, are actually giving government a run-around in the compliance of laws related to the regulation of their operation. And we do not know if it is only coincidental that the leading telecommunications companies of the country are also run by the same businessmen that own the firms being ranted upon by the President for getting alleged onerous contracts with the government.

These telcos, in the guise of ensuring the public of fast and efficient communications services, have adopted various operating innovations. In reality however, the changes in its systems in running their firms are geared more towards continuously improving their bottom lines so that shareholders will continue to hike up the earnings of their investments.

Among the innovations being done by these telecommunications companies is the down-sizing of its manpower, and multi-tasking those left in the roster of their employees. Another supposed strategy for an efficient operation used by the communications firms is the outsourcing of the manpower requirements for certain jobs that are seasonal or doable in a specific period of time.

But there is one work that is actually on a continuing basis but is now handled by service contractors. We are referring to the marketing of the telcos’ products and services.

We do not know how the human resource experts in these communications companies do it. But somehow, they are able to clear the bar provided in the various laws and Presidential issuances intending to put a stop to job contracting.

And we know of one telco that has bastardized, perhaps knowingly or unknowingly, even more government regulations on outsourcing of manpower services. We accidentally discovered this very anomalous practice of the company last week-end.

This telco has a satellite office some 28 kilometers from downtown Davao, the purpose of which, we have no doubt, is to enhance its line capabilities and reach to potential subscribers. The satellite office used to have technical as well as administrative staff to attend to existing subscribers and prospective applicants.

But as outsourcing and modern technology evolved over the years, the satellite office suddenly became an edifice that house equipment, line connections and a security guard. Its former admin office is closed and in its stead a small booth was set up outside.

In the early days of its inception the booth had at times one, on another time two persons manning. They claim to be marketing agents of the communications company. But we are dead sure they were recruited by a manpower services provider firm that is contracted by the telco management.

Last weekend however, we learned that this contracting scheme is taking a turn for the worst. Two women we talked to by chance told us that they were waiting for a tricycle ride going to that particular telco’s booth some 6 kilometers away from where we had the chance conversation.

We were quite elated at the thought that we have rural farm women finding a job as marketing agents for telecommunications services. But our elation was short-lived. It was turned into disgust after learning that they only receive an allowance of P50 for a whole day manning the telco’s booth. The only additional perk they could get is a P1000 commission for every new subscriber they can recruit – which hardly comes these days of mobile phones.

Our hunch is that the communications company management has no hand in the “sub-contracting” being done by its contractor. And clearly, the P50 paid by the main contractor to those who are hired to man the booth could not make a dent in the original contract cost per day per person.

We believe however that the telco concerned is equally guilty by acquiescence. Why, its management should have been wary of taking into its fold service providers who have nothing in their minds but the aggrandizement of their personal interest.

This telco should have set guidelines for its service providers as to the salaries, as well as other benefits for the latter’s personnel. It should have designed a system for effectively monitoring the contractor’s compliance of the guidelines and provide for sanctions for not doing so.

The telco’s satellite office we mention to be located 28 kilometers away from downtown Davao City is actually in Calinan. The communication company… well, your guess could not possibly go wrong.

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