Saturday, November 8, 2014

No ultimate Yolanda recovery without stable employment - labor group

08 November 2014

The government in many aspects of the Yolanda relief and rehabilitation is a miserable failure.  A major element of the rehabilitation program where it failed the most is job creation, the local group of Partido Manggagawa (PM) in Tacloban said in a statement.

“No ultimate recovery will take place in Yolanda avenue without jobs and livelihood opportunities for its people,” asserted Judy Torres the party’s spokesman in the region.

The group had been calling for the government to make employment a priority in the Yolanda rehabilitation program.   Torres drives and operates a tricycle in Tacloban prior to Yolanda. He heads the city’s federation of tricycle drivers and operators.

According to Torres, PM and other labor groups in the region under Tingog have submitted petitions and participated in several dialogues with concerned government agencies.  “But concrete response come too slow and in trickles,” said Torres.

The labor group said the people of Leyte and Samar were manifestly strong and resilient to survive the 365 punishing days after Yolanda, “but were too tired to countenance another year without jobs or regular sources of income.”

Torres said that most of the region’s working people, particularly those who lost their formal jobs and those who lost their means of livelihood in the informal economy, survive on temporary employment provided by the government, the private sector and NGO-sponsored programs. 

“But these jobs are by nature temporary, 15 days at most under a government program, thus neither these provide a feeling of security nor lift the spirits and dignity of the hapless victims of Yolanda.  And the sad part of it is realizing that at the end of these programs, a jobless reality takes over,” lamented Torres.

Employment figures in Leyte is invisible since it was excluded in the Labor Force Survey (LFS) since April 2014.   The 2013 LFS prior to Yolanda put the unemployment rate in Eastern Visayas at 5.4% and 25.2% underemployment. The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said that some 19,000 workers lost their jobs to Yolanda in November last year.

The group said the government could have transformed the crisis into an employment opportunity in the areas of agriculture, mass housing, healthcare, reconstruction and infrastructure, power and transportation, green jobs, and the expansion of public service industry.  Had it been done this way, the government would have had a clear framework that centers on employment. 

In addition, the government could have demanded more money or reparation from industrial nations who are responsible for climate crisis, to ensure the country’s fast and sustainable recovery.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Arrest of Cebu labor leader denounced

Press Release
October 31, 2014

The Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) today condemned the arrest of the union leader at the Carmen Copper Corp. in Toledo City, Cebu, one of the biggest mines in Asia. Tony Cuizon, president of the Panaghiusa sa Mamumuo sa Carmen Copper (PAMCC-AGLO), was arrested last October 25, 2014 in Cavite on the strength of warrants for illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

Renato Magtubo, PM national chairperson, called for the release of Cuizon, a PM national council member, as the arrest warrants, criminal cases and police raids were in violation of existing guidelines in the conduct of police during labor disputes.

“Once again the Philippines rivals Colombia as the most dangerous place for unionists with numerous cases of labor leaders killed, injured or harassed. Cuizon’s arrest and incarceration illustrates the double standard of justice in our country. A politician gets the privilege of hospital arrest and a US soldier gets special treatment but a worker, even if ill and elderly, has to endure the bad conditions of a city jail,” Magtubo added.

Dennis Derige, PM-Cebu spokesperson, stated that on Cuizon’s first day at the Toledo jail, the latter had a high blood attack and was only brought to a clinic. “Cuizon is a senior citizen who suffers from severe hypertension, diabetes and arthritis, arguably work-related illnesses borne out of decades working in the copper mines of Toledo,” he insisted.

Derige averred that “The arrest of Ka Tony is part of Carmen Copper management’s continuing effort to bust the genuine union at the mine and leave the workers defenseless in the face of attempts to downgrade wages and benefits, and impose contractualization among mine workers. The police and the courts are being used as instruments of capitalists.”

PM insists that the warrants were flawed since they were the product of illegal raids conducted in March 2013 on the PAMCC office, and the houses of Cuizon and the union treasurer. The union avers that the firearms and a grenade allegedly found in the raid at the PAMCC office were planted by the police.

Derige explained that Cuizon’s arrest followed on the heels of the decertification of PAMCC as the sole and exclusive bargaining union at the mine, and the formation of a management-backed yellow union.

Carmen Copper has recently been hit by spate of labor disputes as mine workers resist corporate attacks on working conditions. Last February, PAMCC filed a notice of strike for management’s unfair labor practices and violation of the collective bargaining agreement. Also this year, workers contracted to haul and dispose of Carmen Copper’s mine wastes were derailed in forming a union because of the intervention of the huge manpower contractor Asiapro but the case remains pending at the Labor Department. Unions have condemned Asiapro as an illegal labor-only contractor. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Labor party demands turnover of US Marine suspect in transgender killing

Press Release
14 October 2014

Partido Manggagawa (PM) condemns the killing of transgender woman, Jeffrey Serdoncillo Laude a.k.a. Jennifer Laude, allegedly by a US Marine participating in the Balikatan exercise in Olongapo City 11p.m. of October 11.

PM expressed its readiness to mobilize its women and LGBT members and coordinate with other groups in a fight to seek justice for Laude. The group had also been active in the Nicole Subic rape case campaign.

According to reports, the US embassy had issued a statement assuring its full cooperation with Philippine law enforcement authorities.  The same commitment was expressed by the US government during the hearing of “Nicole” in the Subic rape case, but in the end convicted rapist Daniel Smith was allowed to escape by Philippine authorities in collusion with the US embassy.

“It has been almost three days yet both suspect and probable witnesses remain in the custody of American authorities in Philippines soil,” declared PM Secretary General Judy Ann Miranda. She added that “Similar to our demand during the trial of the Subic rape case, custody of suspect should in the hands of Philippine authorities.”

The group insists that nothing justifies Laude’s killing. “Being gay, hiding the fact that he is gay or being a prostitute does not make Laude’s killing right,” Miranda ended.

PM once more called for the repeal of the Visiting Forces Agreement under whose provisions the Balikatan exercises are conducted. “This recent incident again exposes that the VFA does not provide protection for Filipinos whose civil and social rights may be violated by US soldiers and moreover ties the Philippines to the imperialist agenda of the American government,” Miranda explained.

She furthered that ”We have nothing to gain and more to lose from allowing US soldiers, ships and planes to base in Philippine territory. An independent foreign policy is our best defense against external threats even against China’s claims on disputed islands.”

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

War vs. "King of labor-only contracting" in today's World Day of Decent Work

Press Release
October 07, 2014
AROUND 200 members of labor coalition Nagkaisa picketed the Asiapro main office in Barangay Kapitolyo in Pasig City this morning to condemn the pseudo-manning agency for its gross violations of workers’ rights to mark the World Day of Decent Work observed worldwide today.
Below is the Nagkaisa labor coalition statement issued today:
“We, the Nagkaisa! (United!), join arms in condemning in highest and strongest terms the illegal practice being perpetrated by the Asiapro Multi-purpose Cooperative against thousands of vulnerable Filipino workers in its employ as we commemorate today the World Day of Decent Work along with other labor unions and progressive labor groups around the world.
We are enraged by Asiapro’s unfettered and multiple grave violations of international conventions on decent jobs and serious abuse of Philippine labor statutes that upholds the rights and interests of Filipino workers.
Behind its mask and by its pretense as a multi-purpose cooperative, Asiapro is a grand structure of deceit and an organized syndicate with a multi-billion peso profiteering from the blood and sweat of hapless Filipino workers.
The people running Asiapro are with pedigree, deeply-experienced and widely networked to camouflage and further entrench their labor-only-contracting fleecing operation. They are not just modern day labor slavery drivers, they are also rapacious and brutal not only for not giving the right wages and benefits for is workers but for skirting the laws and statutes by not paying millions of pesos of taxes that a responsible manning agency does to government.
As we join fellow workers in fighting for decent work, the Nagkaisa labor coalition today vows to make life difficult for Asiapro and promises to make its greedy high people running the organization be brought to justice.
In observance of the World Day of Decent Work, Nagkaisa today swears to uncover the Asiapro masterminds and make sure they will be made to account including all of the conspirators of the syndicate to pay for their abuse and injustice they have committed against thousands of its workers and their families.”

Monday, October 6, 2014

Advisory: Picket at biggest illegal “labor-only contractor”

Media Advisory
06 October 2014
Contact: Edsil Bacalso


 In observance of “Global Day for Decent Work”
Picket at biggest illegal “labor-only contractor”

Tomorrow, 7 October 2014
10:00 AM

Assembly @ Kapitolyo gate, Pasig City
Then march to nearby Asiapro Building

The Nagkaisa labor coalition will hold a picket at Asiapro to demand a stop to the illegal operations of Asiapro which in the guise of a “workers cooperative” of some 34,000 members is in reality a labor-only contractor. A coordinated picket of Asiapro’s satellite office in downtown Cebu City will also be held tomorrow by Nagkaisa’s member groups. A labor dispute at the giant Carmen Copper mine in Toledo City, Cebu involving Asiapro remains pending to this day. The action tomorrow follows on the heels of an earlier picket that led to Asiapro’s filing of libel and public scandal cases against leaders of Nagkaisa.