MANILA, MARCH 27, 2011 
(STAR)  HIDDEN AGENDA By Mary Ann Ll. Reyes - There is only so much that our country can do to be able to encourage more local investments. Just take the case of the government’s private-public partnership (PPP) program, to which a lot of businessmen have grown skeptical about.

What we really need are honest to goodness direct foreign investments. Foreign investors, aside from taxes and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), are our lifeblood and our government should do everything within its means to make this country a safe haven for their investments.

Take the case of what is happening with Samsung Electronics Philippines Corp. (SPECO), the local unit of giant Korean multinational Samsung. Manpower agency Temps and Staffers Inc. (TSI) earlier filed a complaint against key officers of SPECO for alleged “illegal recruitment leading to economic sabotage,” and has even haled SPECO to court for violation of the country’s anti-dummy law.

TSI was one of SEPCO’s manpower service agencies that provided the company with workers that included promoters and merchandisers for its showrooms all over the country since 2005.

Sources revealed that TSI terminated its contract with SEPCO on June 30, 2010 under acrimonious terms despite SEPCO’s apparent bid to work out a renewal, no doubt anxious over the possibility of not having people man its showrooms.

Before it terminated its contract with SEPCO, TSI had over 400 promoters working on the SEPCO account. When the contract was terminated, these promoters suddenly found themselves without work. And since TSI had a “no-work, no-pay” policy, these promoters had justifiable cause for concern.

Affidavits prepared by at least 14 of the promoters who were based in different parts of the country gave us a glimpse of how TSI allegedly treats its people. They said TSI had asked them to sign a cessation of employment form that stipulated that they cannot work for SEPCO or any manpower agency that would handle the SEPCO account.

Their 13th month pay and cash bond would only be given to them if they signed the form.

Observers say TSI should explain these allegations because they are tantamount to exploitation. TSI’s promoters are also being prevented from seeking commensurate employment, either with SEPCO or with another manpower agency that will do business with SEPCO.

These promoters had been trained by SEPCO as “on-site salesmen” of its products. After all, you can’t be a good promoter or merchandiser if you don’t know the products you’re selling. Hence, Samsung promoters – as with other promoters for other brands – undergo trainings and seminars first before they are assigned to showrooms nationwide.

If their employment with TSI had been scrapped, then it would only be logical for them to get a job that can best utilize their skills and knowledge, as well as their familiarity with the products they are selling. In this case, that would be Samsung products because they had already been trained.

TSI does not see it this way. Instead, TSI reportedly told its promoters that they cannot use this knowledge because it is, in effect, intellectual property that it owns. This skewed way of thinking benefits only TSI and, conversely, puts the promoters at a grave disadvantage.

Curiously, we found out that it was SEPCO, not TSI, that trained the promoters as a prerequisite to their employment as Samsung promoters. TSI did not need to invest a single centavo in training its promoters. Yet in some of the affidavits of its estranged promoters, TSI had supposedly claimed that the skills and knowledge they acquired were its “intellectual property.” Intellectual dishonesty seems more like it.

The DOLE clearly provides for protection even for contractual employees like TSI’s promoters. “The contractual employee shall be entitled to all the rights and privileges due a regular employee as provided for in the Labor Code, as amended...,” a department order states This includes, among other things, 13th month pay and separation pay.

So who will protect these promoters from TSI?

Not so hidden agenda

Founder and chairman Jess Estanislao of the Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD) has announced the appointment of Rex C. Drilon II as the new ICD president effective March 16, 2011. Recently retired from Ortigas & Company Limited Partnership (OCLP) as its chief operating officer but continuing as Consultant, Drilon brings to this not-for-profit institute his 45 years of work experience, the last 32 years of which was at senior levels of management and directorships in large companies; among them, the FMMC Group, Philippine Fuji Xerox, Jardine Sugar, Ayala Land and its 2 publicly-listed subsidiaries Cebu Holdings and Cebu Property Ventures and OCLP. He is known in business circles as a “turnaround” expert. He is also a Fellow, Faculty and Trustee of ICD and of its sister institute, the Institute for Solidarity in Asia (ISA). ICD is in the corporate governance reforms advocacy while ISA focuses on public governance reforms. His first book, “Patriots on the Street”, a unique novel about governance, patriotism and love of country was launched last January. He is an active member of the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) and the Founding President of the Iloilo Economic Development Foundation (ILEDF).

Drilon replaces former ICD president Jonathan Juan (JJ) Moreno who has joined The Palladium Group as its Practice Leader for Corporate Governance in the Asia Pacific Region and concurrent managing consultant for the Philippines. He remains as consultant of ICD.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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