Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Protesters going back to Asiapro Cooperative

28 April 2015


Protesters going back to Asiapro Cooperative

Members of Nagkaisa! labor coalition is going back to Asiapro Cooperative as part of the workers’ continuing protest against labor contractualization.
APRIL 29, 2015
10:00 AM, Asiapro Bldg. San Rafael St.
Bgy. Kapitolyo, Pasig City

Asiapro is the biggest manpower cooperative in the country that supplies thousands of contractual workers to several companies nationwide.

In retaliation to the protest action last year, Asiapro filed libel cases against some of the leaders of Nagkaisa.

No dialogue with PNoy on May 1 – labor coalition

27 April 2015

President Aquino has failed the workers during the last five years and nothing more can be expected from the remaining 14 months in office for this administration.  For this reason, Nagkaisa, the country’s largest coalition of trade union federations and labor organizations, is terminating its regular dialogue with the President being done every Labor Day since 2012.
“No more breakfast or luncheon meeting with the President this coming May 1. The last three years of engagement satisfied the form but produced no substance,” declared Nagkaisa in a press conference held Monday in Manila
On Labor Day the group will rather concentrate all its forces for the big March to Malacanang to seek justice for the 40 million workers whose fight for jobs and job security, living wage, trade union rights and decent working and living conditions remain unheeded.  A cry for justice, which they say, will extend until the next regimes.
Women leaders who composed Nagkaisa’s main panel for the press conference shared the group’s general assessment of the Aquino administration that was held the other day and declared “walang naituwid at walang naitawid” during PNoy’s five years in office.
Open doors but close minds
Nagkaisa said that since 2012, the group has sincerely pursued dialogues with the Palace, hoping that issues brought directly to the President might speed up the resolution of age-old problems besetting labor. 
“We have proven otherwise that while the Palace doors are open for dialogue, the people in power inside maintains a close mind with regard to proposed changes on policies being pursued by labor,” explained the group.
These include Nagkaisa’s demand for the President to certify as urgent the Security of Tenure bill to address the plague of contractualization that destroys job security and union rights. 
The Palace played deaf on this demand while maintaining a ‘kid gloves’ policy in dealing with big companies as well as the proliferation of manpower agencies and cooperatives involved in outsourcing and labor-only contracting activities.
Starvation wages
The government has also failed to raise workers’ wages from the barest minimum despite record growth in the economy.
“The combined wealth of the country’s richest businessmen has grown by ten-fold yet workers’ wages remained at starvation levels,” said Nagkaisa.
The real value of the NCR minimum wage of P466 is P354 only while a family of five need more than a thousand pesos living wage to enjoy a decent life.
Nagkaisa likewise demanded a reduction in power rates with concrete proposals on how to do it.  But Malacanang stood powerless in the face of private power. Had the Supreme Court not issued a TRO for the P4/kWh spike in prices last year, the Philippines could have stolen the record of having the highest electricity rates in the world.
City lands for developers
The Aquino government has adopted a program for socialized housing that entertains housing projects through a “people’s proposal”.  But Nagkaisa said the program is very selective and limited while most of city lands were appropriated not for socialized housing but for the real estate business of giant land developers.
Urban development are not for the urban poor but virtually a fight between the Ayalas, Henry Sy, Lucio Tan, Gokongwei, Andrew Tan, Consunji, George Ty and Manny Villar.
Mary Jane
According to Nagkaisa, the sad fate of Mary Jane Veloso represents an individual tragedy resulting from the country’s chronic unemployment problem. 
“Her story is an added statistics to the long list of OFWs who braved the challenges of foreign lands in search for jobs but suffered tragic ends either from the cruel hands of employers or from the treacherous hands of organized syndicates or get caught in between wars of conflict,” said Nagkaisa.
There is no dramatic change in the unemployment rate under PNoy, said Nagkaisa. In fact, the unemployment rate of 7.5% in 2014 is higher than the unemployment rates of 5.2% in 1976, 6.7% in 1986, and 7.3% when PNoy assumed office in 2010.
Unemployment is also highest among youth (52% in SWS survey) while participation rate of women in the labor force remained flat for half of its population of 15 years and above.
Poor state, high prices of goods and services
Besides problems of unemployment and precarious working conditions, the poor state and high prices of basic goods and services such as power and water, transportation, healthcare and education weigh heavily on the lives of millions of workers.

And in the face of this generalized condition of the toiling masses, Nagkaisa said the only thing the Aquino administration can do for the workers is to mobilize its powers in organizing nationwide job fairs on Labor Day.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Workers to hold vigil for Mary Jane Veloso

28 April 2015

The Nagkaisa! labor coalition is joining the Filipino people in the call to save Mary Jane Veloso’s life.

APRIL 28, 2015
3:00 PM @ Mabuhay Welcome Rotonda

Jakarta had set April 28, 2015 as the date of execution of Mary Jane Veloso and seven other foreign nationals convicted of drug crimes in Indonesia.

NAGKAISA believes Mary Jane was a victim of a drug syndicate and her fate a painful consequence of the country’s chronic unemployment problem - an issue that will be raised by workers on the planned Labor Day protests.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Labor group to Petilla: Ask KEPCO to grant workers demands to avert strike

Press Release
April 23, 2015

The labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM) called on Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla to ask the management of KEPCO-Salcon Power Corp. in Cebu to grant the demands of its workers in order to resolve the labor dispute. Petilla was quoted a few days ago as appealing to KEPCO workers not to proceed with a planned strike.

Yesterday KEPCO workers voted to hold a strike. PM announced its solidarity with the KEPCO workers and that the resolution of the labor dispute is among the demands for the coming Labor Day mobilization.

“If Secretary Petilla wants to solve the problem at KEPCO, he must focus on the cause not the effect. KEPCO workers’ legitimate use of the right to strike is simply a reaction to the union busting and unfair labor practice of its management. Petilla’s energy is better used exerting moral suasion on KEPCO to respect labor rights and start bargaining with the unions to improve workers wages and working conditions,” argued Rene Magtubo, PM national chair.

He added that “We ask KEPCO to moderate its greed. The power industry is the most profitable sector of the economy with the richest Filipinos and foreign investors like Korea’s KEPCO engaged in an industry that is structured in such a way that there is no possible way to lose money. Every cent of business expense is passed on to consumers, such as the middle class and the working poor, thus we have one of the most expensive electricity rates in world.”

Last week KEPCO workers together with supporters from PM and the labor center Sentro held a protest at the Naga, Cebu plant of KEPCO. The rank-and-file union KEPCO Cebu Employees Association and supervisors union KEPCO Cebu Supervisors Association, both affiliated to WSN-Sentro, filed notices of strike for unfair labor practice and union busting respectively last April 8.

PM avers that labor productivity in the power sector is the highest of all industries yet the fruits of labor appear not as wages for workers but as profit for capitalists. “According to the Census of Philippine Business and Industry in 2012, the power industry’s labor productivity is at PhP 4 million annually per worker. In contrast, KEPCO rank-and-file workers receive an average of just PhP 13,000 per month or PhP 169,000 per year. Thus workers wages at KEPCO amounts to just 4% of the industry’s labor productivity,” Magtubo explained.

He asserted that “The meager wages of KEPCO workers was the motive for them to unionize and bargain as a means of enhancing their working and living standards. But rather than respect labor’s right to self-organization and collective negotiations, KEPCO is busting the supervisors union and harassing rank-and-file workers whose union has already been certified as the sole and exclusive bargaining agent.”

Friday, April 17, 2015

KEPCO workers protest low pay, union repression

Photo by Allan DEfensor of Sun Star Cebu
Press Release
April 16, 2015

Workers of KEPCO-Salcon Power Corporation today held a noisy but peaceful protest action at its Naga City plant. In a show of force and expression of solidarity, members of both the rank-and-file and supervisory unions jointly participated in the protest.

“We call on the management KEPCO-Cebu to heed their workers just demands. We say enough of low wages that do not keep up with the rising costs of living. We say enough to harassment and intimidation of workers exercising their right to join unions,” asserted Alex Ponce, President of the rank and file union Kepco Cebu Employees Association - Workers Solidarity Network (KCEA - WSN) .

As workers protested in Naga, the National Conciliation and Mediation Board conducted another mediation hearing between union and management. The two KEPCO unions both filed notices of strike for union busting and unfair labor practice last April 8.

“There is an anomalous disconnect between pay and productivity in our industry. According to a survey on labor productivity, every worker in the energy sector generates P4.1 million in earnings annually but in comparison we are paid a meager about 5% yearly. Is this inclusive growth?” explained Lowell Sanchez, President of supervisory union Kepco Cebu Supervisors Association - Workers Solidarity Network (KCSA - WSN).

The two KEPCO unions, both affiliated to Workers Solidarity Network-SENTRO, are also demanding a stop to the harassment of union members and the reinstatement of two supervisory union officers who were fired for union activities.

The unions denounced management for “being intransigent” and even refusing to attend the mediation hearing with the supervisors union. “Apparently KEPCO’s tactic is be hardline in negotiations as it expects the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to prevent a strike through its assumption of jurisdiction powers. We appeal to the good sense of DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz against falling prey to KEPCO’s dirty play. We hope she stands true to her declaration that government intervention in labor disputes is now a thing of the past,” Sanchez declared.

The International Labor Organization along with local labor groups have previously criticized the abuse of the government’s power to assume jurisdiction as a suppression of the right to strike.

“KEPCO employees call on our fellow Filipinos for understanding and our fellow workers for solidarity. Our fight for fair wages is also the fight of Filipino workers who suffer low pay. Our fight for labor rights is also the fight of all workers who deserve a voice in the workplace. Ang laban ng KEPCO workers ay laban ng lahat,” explained Ponce.