Saturday, July 4, 2020

Signing of anti-terror law and veto of anti-endo bill reveals Duterte’s real color

President Duterte’s signing of the anti-terror law and his veto of the anti-endo bill reveals that he is undeniably an enemy of labor rights. The contrast is remarkable. Duterte made a promise to abolish endo only to drag his feet and at the crucial juncture shoot down the bill that will limit contractualization. Now, labor activists fighting for regular jobs and workers’ rights are threatened by the vague provisions of the anti-terror law.

Even without an anti-terror law, labor rights are already under attack by the agents of the State. In the middle of the lockdown, at the height of Black Friday last April 10, elements of the Dasmarinas police threatened to arrest two workers manning the picketline in the First Cavite Industrial Estate if they don’t abandon the protest. In January this year, the PNP and the Philippine Export Zone Authority launched the Joint Industrial Peace and Concern Office (JIPCO) in Central Luzon to prevent militant unionism in the export zones. Two years ago, photos of three women union leaders were posted under the heading “wanted” at the gate of the Mactan Economic Zone in Cebu.

All these flagrant violations of labor rights by agents of the State will be enabled by the restriction of civil liberties under the draconian provisions of the anti-terror law. Thus workers have a stake in resisting and defying the slide to authoritarianism.

Workers will fight back and push back against the restriction of civil liberties and suppression of labor rights. Last June 30, workers held a global day of action against the anti-terror bill. On July 7, workers will join others sectors in a bigger action to protest the authoritarianism. 

July 4, 2020

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Sports City workers’ demands to Adidas and other brands

Workers of the Adidas supplier Sports City conglomerate are asking the brand to mediate in their urgent demands in the light of the grave impact of the covid pandemic on their working and living conditions. Sports City’s factories are located in the Mactan Cebu Economic Zone, employ some 16,000 workers and at present manufactures for Adidas, Under Armour and Lululemon. The conglomerate is mainly comprised of Mactan Apparel, Metrowear, Feeder Apparel, Global Manufacturing, Vertex and Global Warehouse.

1.       Aid

Conversion of PhP 2,000 loan provided by Sports City into a grant and additional PhP 2,000 subsidy to workers. This will provide relief to workers who have become indebted due to the no work, no pay policy during the two-month lockdown. The 5 kilos of rice and several pieces of canned goods given at the start of the lockdown was an advance on the Christmas package. Thus Sports City has really extended assistance that it will not charge to workers’ existing benefits. But aid is urgently needed as until now a large number of Sports City workers are not working as the factory is not in full operation. Further some 80% of Sports City workers did not receive any assistance from government.

2.       Safety committee

Formation of a safety committee as provided for in the law with the mandate to ensure workers’ voice in the enforcement of occupational health and safety rules. The recent controversy in which the company threatened an anonymous worker with legal action reveals that lack of transparency naturally breeds issues. The anonymous worker made a post about two Sports City workers who returned to work but was found infected with covid.

3.       Production order

Commitment by Adidas to maintain production orders in Sports City to ensure jobs for workers. Workers of Mactan apparel are presently on rotation while Metrowear workers will on rotation starting in July. Workers in Global Wear Warehouse had been told that Adidas wants to relocate production to Cambodia allegedly because of less disruption due to covid. Workers will view any relocation of order by Adidas as condoning union busting by the Sports City.

4.       Freedom of association

The provision about Sports City respecting freedom of association in compliance with brand commitment has been deleted in the latest copy of the company rules and regulations (CRR). The statement of respect for FOA was previously included in the CRR distributed to all workers. Workers view this as a union busting maneuver by Sports City.

25 June 2020

Friday, June 19, 2020

DOLE asked to call labor,employers to dialogue on layoffs in airlines, other sectors

Baggage in the Airline Industry is a Good Stepping Stone into the Industry

The labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM) called on the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to convene conferences between the airline industry and union or worker representatives to formulate measures to preserve jobs. “Mass layoffs should be the last resort of employers and government must pro-actively act to prevent it. Unemployment is a real terror to workers than any threat from terrorist groups,” asserted Rene Magtubo, PM national chair.

He added that “DOLE, hoy gising, di pwedeng natutulog sa pansitan. DOLE cannot be a bystander looking at unemployment figures rise and content with asking employers to report retrenchments—which is what the agency is doing at the moment.”

PM is asking DOLE to immediately hold labor-industry dialogues in the airlines industry and other sectors where jobs are being shed. The group reports that factories in export processing zones are preparing to permanently or temporarily lay off workers in the next few weeks allegedly due to reduced orders from abroad. Expressway workers are also on the chopping block as toll operations are transitioning to cashless mode and will be fully automated.

“In these tripartite dialogues, various measures can be tabled for agreement. For example, as the economy is gradually opened then workers can return to work in batches and those not reporting for work shall be put in a labor pool instead of being retrenched. While in the labor pool, these workers shall receive aid from government and employers. After six months, employers can then decide if these workers will be retained or fired,” Magtubo explained.

The group also demands that government formulate emergency employment measures and expand unemployment insurance programs through tripartite dialogue. PM is appealing to Congress to revise the proposed stimulus bill so that aid to business is conditional on a no layoff, no endo commitment.

“MSME’s that will receive support from government should retain workers and make them regular. Taxpayer’s money should incentivize compliance with decent work and the new normal must be built on inclusive growth. Workers first in the new normal,” Magtubo insisted.

June 19, 2020

Friday, June 5, 2020

‘Terrorizing’ unemployment numbers say it all

The surge in the April unemployment numbers say it all. This unprecedented 17.7% unemployment rate is directly the outcome of the combined health and economic crises and the lackluster response from the government.

The coming months can only be hoped to be better or worse, depending on how the government will conduct its work. To us, the present crises require a major reboot and system upgrade as old devices will simply not work.

The April unemployment data show that a whopping 71% or 29.7 million out of 41.8 million labor force are collectively in a bind amid this pandemic. They are composed of 7.3 million unemployed, the 38.4% employed but not working Filipinos or equivalent to 13 million, and underemployed numbering 6.4 million. 

The urgent agenda therefore for this government is normalization in the minimum and a better normal for the maximum.

Again, the railroaded terror bill will never suit  any of the strategy for the minimum and maximum agenda of restoring lost wages and creating more jobs, universal social protection, and most importantly, participation in crafting a new economic paradigm as normalization will simply bring the workers back to the endo nation.

Ang kailangan ng manggagawa ay tulong hindi kulong; union hindi represyon; regular na trabaho hindi endo; ayuda hindi diktadura.

05 June 2020

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Terror bill bumps off economic stimulus as a priority of Duterte administration – labor group

Yesterday’s railroading in Congress of the anti-terrorism bill ahead of stimulus packages pending before it is the latest manifestation of the Duterte administration’s misplaced priorities. It clearly showed that its hunger for extrajudicial authoritarian powers have become more urgent in this time of pandemic than its resolve to organize a massive recovery plan in preventing the economy and our people from sliding further into a deep recession and extreme poverty.

In short, the Duterte government is more inclined to becoming a reckless dictator during this period rather than a sensible marshal of a better normal.

In the Senate where the original Senate Bill 1083 (terror bill) came from, a measly P140B stimulus package was approved on second reading yesterday. This amount is way, way below the needed stimulus to shape new economic pathways and in shielding our workers from losing their jobs and incomes. The House has a P1.3T stimulus proposal, but it has come to our knowledge that the administration will never approve a stimulus package higher than P130B. Now we already have a preview of where this country is heading to.

Then why did a terror bill that has gotten out of the store was picked quickly by Congress like an instant noodle? There is no terrorist menace surrounding our country right now to press a panic button. What we have is chronic poverty made worse by the pandemic and the widespread sense of helplessness at home, in the streets, and in workplaces.

Moreover, the Filipino people have never demanded a terror bill as a solution to their plight. And under the present condition, their main concerns remain to be #AyudangSapatParaSaLahat and #BalikTrabahongLigtas, and of course a clear road map for a better normal.

In short, only those who are in power are interested in gaining more power that is totally useless in the war against the pandemic and the deepening economic crisis.

04 June 2020