Saturday, May 12, 2018

Cavite workers go on strike, slam harassment by PEZA

Workers of a garments factory in the Cavite ecozone went on strike yesterday morning in response to the mass termination of 16 union officers. However the picketline setup by workers was torn down by an official of the Cavite ecozone administration and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) police.

“We condemn the harassment by Cavite industrial relations officer Mr. Lindon and the head of PEZA police, a certain Mr. dela Cruz, of the legal strike by Dong Seung workers. Just like during the strike by women workers of the electronics company Lakepower Converter last December, PEZA is actively suppressing the right of workers to peaceful concerted activities. These are gross violations of the Joint DOLE-PNP-PEZA Guidelines in the Conduct of Security Personnel During Labor Disputes,” declared Dennis Sequena, coordinator of the Cavite chapter of Partido Manggagawa (PM), which is assisting the striking workers.

The strike continues today with scores of Dong Seung workers conducting a roving picket. This morning, PEZA police once more harassed the striking workers and prohibited their use of a megaphone while conducting a protest program in front of the Dong Seung factory gate. Members of the union are also being stopped and prevented from entering the Cavite ecozone.

Last April 27, Dong Seung workers and their supporters trooped to the Cavite ecozone main gate to protest the union busting and call for respect for freedom of association. The rally followed a forum in which Cavite ecozone workers aired their grievances about low pay, insecure jobs, verbal harassment and excessive work quotas.

The Dong Seung union officers were served notices of termination in their houses by an HR officer of the company last April 12. They were supposed to back to work on April 13 as part of the agreement. An earlier strike notice was precipitated by the one-month suspension of the 16 union officers.

“The firing of all 16 union officers, including the union president, was the latest in a series of union busting moves by management. Moreover it is a maneuver done in bad faith as the union just withdrew a notice of strike earlier filed. The retraction of the strike was part of an agreement mediated by the Labor Department wherein workers will be accepted back to work after an investigation by management,” explained Juanito Diaz, president of the Dong Seung Workers Union-Independent.

Dong Seung Inc. is a Korean-owned apparel manufacturer inside the Cavite Economic Zone, the country’s biggest government-run export processing estate. It manufactures garments for global brands Macy’s and Ann Taylor. Dong Seung workers are asking Macy’s and Ann Taylor to remediate the code of conduct violations of its supplier.

Diaz declared that “Tama na. Sobra na. Oras na para igalang ang karapatang mag-unyon para mapabuti ang kalagayan ng mga manggagawa. Workers in the Cavite ecozone are organizing to improve their wages and working conditions but the response of companies is to bust unions and harass workers.”

The union had filed a petition for certification elections in the company last December. Immediately after, the union alleged that management started harassing officers and members. Unionists were denied loans or were forced to withdraw support for the union in return for access to loans. Union leaders were transferred to different production lines and a union officer was demoted from mechanic to sewer.

Then in the latter part of March, management suspended for 30 days all union officers on the pretext that they smeared the company by seeking action from the factory customers regarding violations of freedom of association and labor standards.

Photos of the Dong Seung workers strike and rally can be accessed at FB page of Partido Manggagawa:

May 12, 2018

Friday, May 11, 2018

Quo warranto vs Sereno was a political coup

The decision of the Supreme Court to remove Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno can never be considered as a triumph of justice. It’s purely a result of a political coup organized from both the outside and inside of the country’s deteriorating state of institutions.   

Sereno was clearly ousted not because of her missing SALNs but mainly because of her missing loyalty to the Chief Executive.  And while the quo warranto was effectively used only as a means to achieve the end of administratively ousting the Chief Justice, it’s the political side of it that’s more intimidating as far as the whole nation is concerned.  It’s not really the quo warranto proceedings, we believe, that has become a threat to the SC itself as an institution.  Rather, it’s the majority vote that is worth watching as this number has already become a political trend in itself.    

Is it the same majority that will ensure the victory of Bongbong Marcos before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal? Will the same majority vote in favor of ConAss to ensure the smooth sailing of the chacha train? Were they the same majority who voted to reverse the FASAP decision 20 years after? 

The recent decision on former CJ Sereno provides a preview of what’s going to be the next big things this ruling majority will do or undo in this increasingly becoming confused and supressed nation.

11 May 2018

Friday, May 4, 2018

Workers challenge Senate on endo

In pursuit of their respective interests, the “class conflict” between employers and workers on the issue of labor contracting has shifted to Congress, the Senate in particular, after President Duterte issued EO 51 last Labor Day. President Duterte dropped the ball on endo. Workers challenge the Senate to pick it up.

EO 51 was welcomed by employers’ groups, especially by the subcontractors, but labor groups have not wholeheartedly accepted it.

The endo fight at Congress would be long and complicated battle given that both the employers and workers would deal with 23 senators to come up with a Senate version of the bill on security of tenure, and the members of the bicameral conference committee to iron out differences on the versions of both houses.

The House of Representatives has already approved their security of tenure measure under House Bill 6908 principally authored by Rep. Ting, chairperson of the Committee on Labor and Reps. Mendoza and Villarin of TUCP and Akbayan party-lists, respectively.

It would greatly expedite the process in the Senate in particular and to the Congress as a whole if President Duterte will issue clear “directives” to his “super majorities” in the Senate and House of Representatives.  Such “directives” should express his will for the realization of his campaign promise to end contractualization of labor.

Labor solidarity displayed in the fight against the ill-effects of widespread contractualization on workers’ rights and welfare has convinced the House of Representatives and the President to act accordingly.

It would be labor solidarity again that would play a vital role on convincing the Senate. But this time, the solidarity should be broader, stronger and sharper on its action in order to win the battle.

May 4, 2018

Ka Rene Magtubo
PM Chair and Nagkaisa Labor Coalition Spokesperson

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

On the signed EO on Endo: Will Congress stand stronger than the mightiest President this country ever had?

Press Statement
Rene Magtubo
PM National Chair

The EO narrative is over. Sadly, we are in for another waiting game as the anti-endo ball was passed by the President to Congress for ultimate resolution.  The workers’ struggle for security of tenure, therefore, is far from over. Tuloy ang laban! 

A bigger question, consequently, is bothering our workers now: Will Congress, which is known for greasy political horse-tradings, stand stronger than the mightiest President this country ever had?
Yes, we were truly dismayed and frustrated with the Executive Order (EO) on endo signed by President Duterte yesterday. First, it was an EO that no one in the labor sector was able to read. Second, none of the most important povisions demanded by labor - which is the reinstatement of direct-hiring and regularization as the norm in employment relations - was adopted in the signed document. 

In short, after more than two years of protest actions, negotiations and labor groups’ dutiful drafting of five drafts of an EO, it was big business and their captured officials in DTI and DOLE in the end that won the heart of the President. The die is cast here and in this episode of class battle it is the side of capital that gained momentum with their effective capture of the Executive, including the President. 

Upon signing of the EO, President Duterte admitted that his order is limited only to what is provided under the Labor Code. What he never explained is the fact that such limitation is surmountable by the the Code’s the same grant of executive powers to the President and the Labor Secretary (Article 106) to prohibit contracting and sub-contracting. The five drafts submitted to him by labor groups have in fact addressed that concern by providing exemptions to allowable forms of contractualization upon consultations with the tripartite council. 

The President said he cannot be a legislator to correct the Labor Code’s constraints. That, to us, sounded so legalese and diplomatic for a President known for unorthodox political brinkmanship. 

“Sinagad ko na ito,” Duterte declared after signing the EO. At nasagad nga sa kasiyahan ang ECOP.  

2 May 2018

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Labor's reaction to EO signed by PDigong

Our reaction on the EO that what signed by PDigong in Cebu, today, Labor day:

PDigong signed the DOLE-DTI sponsored EO which was rejected by Nagkaisa! months back.

We felt we were taken for a ride. There was no consultation with our 5th draft submitted to the Office of the President thru the Labor Secretary last April 13. The EO that was signed definitely is an EO for the employers not for the workers. We will not waver, we will continue to fight to give justice to workers affected by the widespread contractualization of labor.

If PDigong wanted to fulfill his promise of ending endo he should have signed the 5th draft of the workers’ EO that would make direct hiring of workers to principal employers a norm in employment relations of his administration but on the other hand would open some jobs or functions to labor contracting subject to consultations in the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council. Instead PDigong broke his promise and betrayed the workers.

Ka Rene Magtubo
PM Chairperson and Nagkaisa! Spokesperson
May 1, 2018