Friday, January 3, 2020

DOLE hit for inaction on violations of “Grinch” company in Cavite




The militant Partido Manggagawa (PM) hit the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for continued delay in enforcing the mandatory payment of the 13th month benefit for workers of a garments factory in Cavite. In a hearing yesterday at the provincial DOLE office in Trece Martirez, Cavite, officials gave the management of Sejung Apparel Inc. another 10 days to pay the 13th month benefit and the last salary due of workers.

“Christmas and New Year has come and gone but the DOLE still refuses to use its enforcement powers against a ‘Grinch’ company,” declared Rene Magtubo, PM national chair. Workers of Sejung in the First Cavite Industrial Estate have been on picket-protest since December 12.

“While DOLE officials in the national and regional offices enjoyed their holidays, Sejung workers had a sad Christmas and a bleak New Year since labor standards are not being enforced,” Magtubo insisted.

Josephine Odchimar, president of the labor union at Sejung, stated that DOLE conducted a factory inspection last December 19 and promised to issue an order if management did not release the 13th month pay on December 24 as mandated.

“Justice delayed is justice denied. What’s keeping the DOLE regional office from issuing a compliance order? Even during the mediation hearings, Sejung maintained its illegal and hardline stance that it will grant the 13th month pay in March not December. Yet the DOLE dare not lift a finger even as Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello issued press releases reminding employers about the payment of the 13th month benefit,” Magtubo averred.

Workers set up a picketline outside the factory to guard against machines being taken out of the factory and prevent a runaway shop. Sejung workers are also demanding a stop to the transfer of machines and an end to subcontracting of production. “The company’s argument of lack of buyers is just an alibi. The truth is that production is being subcontracted by Sejung to other companies,” Odchimar asserted.

Workers believe management is maneuvering to bust the union. The union won the certification elections in August. The company temporarily closed down in October, a week after the union submitted a proposal for a collective bargaining agreement. After a month, the company reopened.

“The pattern of companies inside ecozones shutting down to bust unions is well documented. It appears that Sejung is following this modus operandi of union busting,” Magtubo asserted.


January 3, 2020

Monday, December 30, 2019

Press Release: Cavite workers call on Congress to investigate ecozone investors




Workers embroiled in a labor dispute in a Korean-owned factory in Cavite called on Congress to investigate violations of workers’ rights and labor standards by foreign investors in economic zones. The demand by workers of Sejung Apparel Inc. coincided with a solidarity visit this morning by Sen. Risa Hontiveros to their picketline.

“When foreign investors violate our labor laws with impunity, then Filipino workers are second-class citizens in our own land. We ask Congress to make incentives to foreign investors conditional on their respect for workers’ rights,” asserted Josephine Odchimar, union president.

The proposed Corporate Income Tax and Incentives Act (CITIRA) removes incentives to foreign investors in ecozones. The Department of Finance and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority are openly debating the provisions of the bill. Labor groups on the other hand take an independent position and ask that incentives be tied to labor rights.

Odchimar added that “We welcome Sen. Risa and her staff to our picketline which has served as our home for the holidays. Similar to the story of Jesus being born in a lowly manger, we spent Christmas in a humble picketline.”

Sejung workers are demanding the release of the mandated 13th month pay, the latest salary due workers, a stop to the removal of machines and an end to the outsourcing of production to other factories.

Meanwhile the labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM) slammed the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for lack of action in enforcing labor standards at Sejung.

“December 24 has come and gone but the DOLE still refuses to use it powers to enforce the payment of wages and 13th month pay for workers of a ‘Grinch’ company. While DOLE officials in the national and regional offices are enjoying their happy holidays, Sejung workers had a sad Christmas and are facing a bleak New Year since labor standards are not being enforced,” declared Rene Magtubo, PM national chair.

Odchimar explained that DOLE had already conducted a factory inspection last December 19 and promised to issue an order if management does not release the 13th month pay on December 24 as mandated. However, she added that DOLE did not issue an order and instead is trying to schedule another inspection.

“Justice delayed is justice denied. What’s keeping the DOLE regional office from issuing a compliance order? Even during the mediation hearings, Sejung maintained its illegal and hardline stance that it will grant the 13th month pay in March not December. Yet the DOLE dare not lift a finger even as Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello issued press releases reminding employers about the payment of the 13th month benefit,” Magtubo averred.


December 30, 2019

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Media Advisory: Sen. Risa to visit workers picketline vs 'Grinch' firm in Cavite

WHAT: Sen. Risa Hontiveros to hold solidarity visit to workers picketing Cavite firm

WHEN: Today, 10:00 am, Dec. 30, 2019

WHERE: Sejung Apparel Inc., First Cavite Industrial Estate, Dasmarinas, Cavite

Contact Person: Josephine Odchimar, union president, 09755769603

DETAILS: Sen. Risa has answered the appeal for solidarity for workers whose management has refused to pay the mandated 13th month benefit and also not released their latest salary too. Workers of Sejung have been on picket-protest since Dec. 12. The militant Partido Manggagawa has slammed the DOLE for inaction in enforcing labor standards.

Workers are calling on Sen. Risa to investigate the labor rights violations of locators in ecozones and make the incentives for investors conditional on respect for workers' rights. The CITIRA bill pending in Congress provides for the removal of incentives for foreign investments. ###

Labor Yearender: The end endo promise died in 2019

Photo by Rappler

The mass of Filipino workers will look back and remember 2019 as the year that President Duterte’s famous promise to end endo dies ignominiously. With the stroke of his presidential veto of the Security of Tenure bill, Duterte shamelessly killed his pledge to abolish contractualization. End endo became another victim of EJK under the administration.

The dispute around the Security of Tenure bill pales in comparison to other labor related issues in 2019 like the expanded maternity bill (EML) or the influx of Chinese workers. While there were debates between workers’ and employers’ group about EML benefits, such reforms were low hanging fruits in contrast to the long-running struggle around contractualization.

Since the time that Duterte vowed to end endo during the campaign period up to the eve of the presidential veto, millions of workers held on to belief that those words would become deeds. For four long years, the labor movement engaged with the government for the implementation of the promise. Through the twists and turns of the campaign against contractualization, labor groups kept up the pressure.

It took more than a year into the administration’s term for DO 174 to be released by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). Since DO 174 merely recycled the provisions of Aquino’s DO 18-A, the labor coalition Nagkaisa instead directly petitioned Duterte for a new rule that will make regular jobs the norm in employment relations. Thus came EO 51 in May 2018 which again fell short of workers’ demands. Upon the labor movement’s sustained demand, Duterte called on Congress in his 2018 SONA to pass the Security of Tenure bill on the argument that only a revision of the law could implement his promise. Then an open letter by all the employers associations appealed to Duterte to veto the bill. On the eve of the Security of Tenure bill lapsing into law last July, Duterte heeded the employers’ call and betrayed his promise to workers.

Pundits may say that it was too much for the labor movement to actually expect that such a radical populist promise will actually be fulfilled. As the saying goes, nangako na nga, gusto nyo pa tuparin. But for Partido Manggagawa, Duterte’s fake promise—which unfortunately the masses of workers believed in—can only be exposed not through denunciations but through experience. Thus the whole campaign to demand the realization of Duterte’s end endo promise ended in the veto but it also led to a significant drop in his popularity. In a Pulse Asia survey, Duterte’s performance ratings dropped by seven points from June to September 2019.

Despite the veto, the labor movement should be relentless in the end endo campaign in the coming year. But the anchor of the continued campaign will not anymore be the broken promise of Duterte but the real movement of contractual workers demanding regularization. In the last few years, labor unrest has been on the rise with the number of strike notices and actual strikes increasing. A majority of these labor disputes are due to regularization. Besides high profile cases like the NutriAsia, PLDT and Philippine Airlines, there are lesser known struggles by workers of the Sejung garments factory in Cavite and ES Transport firm in Cubao whose issues include regularization. Workers in Sejung spent their holidays on the picketlines while the workers in ES Transport had to end their strike due a mysterious assumption of jurisdiction order served on December 22 despite being a Sunday.

Encouraged by the presidential promise of end endo and the labor movement’s visible campaign, workers in these firms have not waited for the reforms from above but instead are claiming their rights by action from below. It is upon these grassroots initiatives and struggles, that the labor movement should base its campaign to abolish contractualization in 2020 and beyond.

Aside from the fight against contractualization, the labor movement should also open a new front in 2020—the struggle to end regional wages. Duterte again made a promise—not as prominent as end endo—but a pledge nonetheless to stop ‘provincial rates.’

In July this year, DOLE announced that it will undertake a study on the propriety of the regional wage system given the demand for wage increases and the clamor against provincial rates. Partido Manggagawa has consistently asserted that regional rates are a system to cheapen wages and boost profits. Thus wages in the NCR are double the rates in ARMM despite the fact that the price differential is nowhere as large. In Calabarzon, there are different wage rates even among contiguous cities and municipalities even though the cost of living is basically the same throughout the region.

Unfortunately, DOLE’s study of regional wages has been outsourced to UP’s School of Economics (UPSE) which is a known bastion of the neoliberal doctrine of the so-called free market. It is entirely possible that the DOLE-UPSE study will end up recommending not just the abolition of regional wages but also minimum wages itself. If so, this will mean throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Minimum wages have served as protection for workers since its enactment in 1936. President Quezon’s social justice program was an evident response to the labor and agrarian unrest of the period. At present, the minimum wage is not just the floor but it is also the average wage rate in country. Due to union decline and low collective bargaining coverage, wages above the minimum are an exception rather than the rule.

A Department of Finance study has revealed that from 2001 to 2016, labor productivity has doubled but real wages have remained stagnant despite repeated nominal wage orders by regional boards. In other words, the pie has become bigger but capitalists have monopolized the fruits of workers’ labor.


It is high time that the system of wage fixing be fixed. Thus PM’s call to abolish the regional wage boards and setup a National Wage Commission with the mandate to set a national minimum wage at the level of the cost of living. This will be in consonance with the Constitutional provision for a living wage. Next year, the fight for a living wage should begin in earnest.

December 29, 2019

DOLE slammed for inaction on 13th month pay issue of “Grinch” company in Cavite




The labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM) slammed the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for lack of action in enforcing the mandatory payment of the 13th month benefit for workers of a garments factory in Cavite.

“December 24 has come and gone but the DOLE still refuses to use it powers to enforce the payment of wages and 13th month pay for workers of a ‘Grinch’ company,” declared Rene Magtubo, PM national chair. Workers of Sejung Apparel Inc. in the First Cavite Industrial Estate have been on picket-protest since December 12.

Tomorrow, Senator Risa Hontiveros is set to visit the Sejung picketline to bring moral and logistical support to the workers.

“While DOLE officials in the national and regional offices are enjoying their happy holidays, Sejung workers had a sad Christmas and are facing a bleak New Year since labor standards are not being enforced,” Magtubo insisted.

Josephine Odchimar, president of the labor union at Sejung, stated that DOLE had already conducted a factory inspection last December 19 and promised to issue an order if management does not release the 13th month pay on December 24 as mandated. However, she added that DOLE did not issue an order and instead is trying to schedule another inspection.

“Justice delayed is justice denied. What’s keeping the DOLE regional office from issuing a compliance order? Even during the mediation hearings, Sejung maintained its illegal and hardline stance that it will grant the 13th month pay in March not December. Yet the DOLE dare not lift a finger even as Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello issued press releases reminding employers about the payment of the 13th month benefit,” Magtubo averred.

Workers set up a picketline outside the factory to guard against machines being taken out of the factory and prevent a runaway shop. Sejung workers are also demanding a stop the transfer of machines and an end to subcontracting of production. “The company’s argument of lack of buyers is just an alibi. The truth is that production is being subcontracted by Sejung to other companies,” Odchimar asserted.

Workers believe management is maneuvering to bust the union. The union won the certification elections in August. The company temp closed down in October, a week after the union submitted a proposal for a collective bargaining agreement. After a month, the company reopened.

“The pattern of companies inside ecozones shutting down to bust unions is well documented. It appears that Sejung is following this modus operandi of union busting,” Magtubo asserted.



December 29, 2019