Monday, November 4, 2019

Labor demands tripartite investigation over raids and mass arrests in Bacolod

Photo from Kodao.org
The country’s biggest labor coalition, Nagkaisa!, is demanding a tripartite investigation over the simultaneous raids and mass arrests conducted by security forces Thursday night against members of militant labor and women groups in Bacolod City to protect workers’ right to self organization. 

“We won’t let this assault on freedom pass without demanding accountability from authorities who ordered these Gestapo-style raids. We also want to send notice to the government that labor organizations in the country are jointly opposed to this kind of highhanded approach in dealing with legitimate sectoral organizations,”said Nagkaisa! in a statement sent to media. 

Some 57 people were arrested during the simultaneous raids conducted by a joint military and police forces against the Kilusang Mayor Uno, National Federation of Sugar Workers and Gabriela offices in the cities of Bacolod and Escalante in Negros last Thursday night. Cases of illegal possession of firearms and explosives were filed against those who were arrested, a charge vehemently denied by said groups. 

Nagkaisa! is pointing out that while the raids and mass arrests were carried out by virtue of a search warrant issued in Quezon City, it believes that this legality is eclipsed by the repressive character attending it which is common only under authoritarian rule.

The least that could have been done by security forces, the group said is to coordinate with labor department under the spirit of the Guideline on the conduct of the DOLE, DILG, DND, DOJ, AFP and PNP relative to the exercise of Workers’ Right and Activity.

“We envisage further that there’s more to this than meets the eye. Its chilling effect was obvious as they happen at a time the democratic spaces in the country were shrinking fast, including, among others, the systematic repression of trade union rights and the employment of violence against trade union organizers. We therefore demand a stop to the institutionalization of these draconian measures,” stated Nagkaisa! 

Labor groups were deeply concerned that the labor department’s ineffective response against trade union killings and red-tagging has emboldened our security forces to step up its brazen campaign against organized labor. 

“Thus we urge Secretary Silvestre Bello to step in, form a tripartite body and remind the military and security forces that DOLE has the prerogative in dealing with organized labor,” Nagkaisa said. 
Nagkaisa! is also urging the government to invite the ILO High Level Mission to visit the country the soonest time possible. 

The group finally reminded the government that the labor movement will always come to the defence of freedom and human rights as it values the union principle ‘an injury to one is an injury to all’. 

“An assault against a part of the labor movement, therefore, is an attack against the whole movement,” concluded Nagkaisa!

03 November 2019 

Friday, November 1, 2019

Cavite garments workers to spend Undas at the picketline



Workers of a garments factory in the First Cavite Industrial Estate in Dasmarinas, Cavite will be spending undas at the picketlines instead of the graves of their departed love ones. The dispute between workers and management of Sejung Apparel Inc. is on its third week.

A hearing at the National Conciliation and Mediation Board ended last Wednesday without any agreement between the union and management. The union is demanding the reopening of the factory and the return to work of all employees.

The workers started their picket protest last October 14 after management locked out them out. The lockout happened just a week after the union submitted a proposal for a collective bargaining agreement.

“This is not the first time and unfortunately not the last time that a recently unionized factory suddenly closed down. This is the action of last resort by management in order to bust and avoid unions. We have seen this happen with the Faremo garments factory at the Cavite Economic Zone in 2016 and the Cebu Nisico electronics firm at the Mactan Economic Zone in 2017,” stated Rene Magtubo, national chair of Partido Manggagawa (PM).

Josephine Odchimar, union president, lamented that the freedom to unionize are dead in the ecozones. Tonight, workers staying at the picketline plan to light candles in memory of their dead family members but also in protest at the death of labor rights in the country.

Odchimar vowed that the union will continue the picket protest until workers are allowed back to work. She also called on the administration of the First Cavite Industrial Estate to respect the right of workers to protest in compliance with the DOLE-PEZA-PNP guidelines of 2011 and 2012. These guidelines on the right of workers to protest and strike in the ecozones were enacted in the wake of a high level mission by the ILO in 2009.

PM has been assisting export zone workers in Cavite and Cebu in their bid to improve wages and working conditions. “We call on the DOLE and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) to intervene as this is a clear case of violation of the freedom of association (FOA). While the dialogue between labor groups, DOLE and PEZA about ensuring respect for freedom of association has been much delayed, union busting complaints like that in Sejung are happening with no action from government institutions. This is among the reasons the International Labour Organization last June resolved to investigate the government’s enforcement of Conventions 87 and 98 about freedom of association and collective bargaining respectively,” Magtubo explained. ###



November 1, 2019

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Picketline at Cavite ecozone enters its second week as disputes rise



A labor dispute in a garments factory in the First Cavite Industrial Estate in Dasmarinas, Cavite entered its second week with no clear resolution in sight. A hearing at the National Conciliation and Mediation Board last Monday ended without any agreement between the union and management of Sejung Apparel Inc.

Industrial relations analysts and even Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) officials have noted a rise in labor disputes. This year 162 notices of strikes have been filed and 13 have matured into actual strikes. Many of the disputes are due to demands for regularization.

Even the union formed at Sejung garments was partly motivated by grievances of contractualization as many workers were hired as temporary employees for years without being regularized. The DOLE inspected the factory last May due to complaints about endo and benefits.

But the immediate cause of the pending labor dispute at Sejung was the lockout by management. In August, workers voted to be represented by a union. Two weeks ago, the union submitted a proposal for a collective bargaining agreement. After just a week, the company suddenly declared a temporary closure allegedly for lack of orders. Workers however contend that there was pending order that was abruptly stopped by the management. Thus the union filed for a notice of strike due to union busting.

“This is not the first time and unfortunately not the last time that a recently unionized factory suddenly closed down. This is the action of last resort by management in order to bust and avoid unions. We have seen this happen with the Faremo garments factory at the Cavite Economic Zone in 2016 and the Cebu Nisico electronics firm at the Mactan Economic Zone in 2017,” stated Rene Magtubo, national chair of Partido Manggagawa (PM).

PM has been assisting export zone workers in Cavite and Cebu in their bid to improve wages and working conditions. “We call on the DOLE and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) to intervene as this is a clear case of violation of the freedom of association (FOA). While the dialogue between labor groups, DOLE and PEZA about ensuring respect for freedom of association has been much delayed, union busting complaints like that in Sejung are happening with no action from government institutions. This is among the reasons the International Labour Organization last June resolved to investigate the government’s enforcement of Conventions 87 and 98 about freedom of association and collective bargaining respectively,” Magtubo explained.

23 October 2019

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Workers will continue fighting for democracy and human rights

Image result for martial law image

Authoritarianism and liberal democracy are two distinct form of governance, yet workers under both circumstances suffer different degrees of human rights violations. Democracy and human rights, in other words, are permanent demands and agenda that workers will be fighting for in either condition of elite governance. 

We remember how workers and their trade unions were supressed during the dark days of martial law, 47 years ago today. But it is also important to recall the resistance and heroism the workers’ movement played during those turbulent years until the end of the Marcos dictatorship. Then the struggles that never stopped even under the post-martial law/post-Edsa regimes. 

Today, therefore, is also a good day to ask: When will workers stop fighting for those agenda?  
Workers did fight before because democracy was lacking and state violence was an everyday bill. We fight today because democracy was still wanting while chronic poverty and inequality remain. 

Accordingly, workers will be fighting any plan by the administration to bring back martial law or re-establish dictatorship, alongside with the campaigns for job security, living wage, freedom of association, and deeper political reforms. And we are aware of the fact that winning these agenda is more difficult under the Duterte regime where the struggle for labor and human rights are taken as rebellion initiated by state enemies. 

There are reasons to worry about the dangers faced by human rights defenders (HRDs) in this country today, including those who are involved in trade union organizing. Several trade union organizers have already been killed in EJK manner of executions. There is also an on-going red-tagging of unions being undertaken by the military nationwide, most especially in hot spot areas like EPZA’s and mining communities. Several picket lines have also been dispersed violently by combined private and state security forces in the last three years.   

Today we join the human rights community led by the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) and In Defense of Human Rights (I-Defend) in demanding #StopTheAssault against HRDs and the Filipino people. 

We condemn, in strongest terms, acts of state violence in the same way as we reject and demand the scrapping of official policies like red-tagging of trade unions and other HRDs working for the realization of a life of dignity and human rights for all.

21 September 2019

Thursday, August 15, 2019

ATM fees, other charges must be cheaper under the regime of automation – labor group


The workers’ group Partido Manggagawa (PM) won’t let the bad idea of higher ATM fees die down despite assurances made by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) that they will oppose the banks’ plan to increase their ATM charges.

“Truth must be revealed by the banks on this issue: That the more the system is becoming smart and efficient, which is what automation achieves, the more the services become widely available and cheaper, if not free. The banks’ plan to impose higher fees on ATM transactions and other charges simply violates the economics of automation,” asserted PM Chair Rene Magtubo.

The group argues that under the regime of Industry 4.0 or automation, robots, artificial intelligence (AI) and other smart machines displace humans in the workplace to achieve more economy and productivity. In the case of banks, human tellers were replaced by ATMs and AI, thus, labor costs were saved. 

“So where has the economics of automation gone under this scenario? Truth is, after human tellers were robbed of their jobs, these banks were planning to rob their depositors more to depreciate the robots and to compensate their CEOs. This is corporate greed, plain and simple,” lamented Magtubo.

The planned hike will affect approximately 6 to 8 per cent of minimum wage in NCR and Calabarzon areas, according to PM.

The groups argues further that much of these ATMs must have already been depreciated over time since it was utilized by the banking system and therefore the cost of capital recovery must be very minimal at this point in time.  Other than cost of capex, operations and maintenance the group said, the planned hike is for greed if not outright highway robbery.

15 August 2019