Labor Forum: of the `Trainees'

Labor exploitation has been going on since time immemorial. From the slaves who built the pyramids of Egypt to the slave-workers of the sweatshops today, operating clandestinely in secluded areas of our communities surrounded by high fences or walls. Some of these establishments do not even have business permits. Workers in these workplaces are suffering from cramped working conditions, lack of proper ventilation and long hours of work. They are exploited to the tilt like modern day slaves even if slavery has long been outlawed by our so-called civilized society.

But one of the most subtle form of exploitation with a semblance of legality is the exploitation of the "trainees" in most department stores and fast food establishments. These workers are usually young. Their job description is that of a "trainee". They are paid 75% of the daily minimum wage without social benefits. They are allowed to work less than six months to prevent them from becoming regular workers and then, their services are terminated.

Due to the scarcity of employment, young people are compelled to work for economic survival. But the ugly side of this "traineeship" program is that the worker's designation as a trainee is merely a subterfuge to cover the abuse and violation of the worker's rights by unscrupulous employers. These trainees are rehired after a few months, again as trainees, under the same terms and conditions as they were before.

This is an abuse of the traineeship program and a violation of the worker's right to security of tenure. It would seem to appear that there is no definite period as to how long is the training would be.

The trainee is rehired as a trainee repeatedly. For the unscrupulous employers, they are assured of young workers who are paid less, no social and retirement benefits. Trainees are servile who can be easily exploited because they are not aware of their rights as workers. Most companies are hiding behind this "traineeship" working scheme to maximize their profit.

I am surprised why the government allows this exploitative and unfair labor practices. Instead of merely declaring this practice as illegal and immoral, the government must do something about it. We should continue to advocate for regular jobs, decent working conditions and higher wages.

Companies usually boast of their handsome annual income while their workers are underpaid and over-worked. Instead of trumpeting their profits they should share it with the workers. They should be ashamed that their economic interests, prosper on the backs of the exploited workers.

If this exploitative "traineeship" program will not be corrected, the youth of today, who are supposed to be the leaders of tomorrow shall remain victims of exploitation. Later, they would not be accepted as a trainee because they are no longer young and could no longer be exploited.

When a company is vested with arbitrary power to pursue its insatiable desire for corporate greed, while the rights of the workers are systematically violated or destroyed, it will cause discontentment and misery to the workers. A trainee-worker should be respected with dignity and not to be exploited.*