Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Militant labor opposes martial law in Mindanao

The militant group Partido Manggagawa (PM) today expressed opposition to the imposition of martial law in Mindanao in the wake of armed confrontations between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the so-called Maute group in Marawi City.

“Martial law in Mindanao is a disproportionate response to a localized problem. It is like using a gun to kill a fly when a swatter will suffice. The lessons of Philippine history is that martial rule is a problem not a solution as it leads to abuses and dictatorship,” stated Rene Magtubo, PM national chair.

He added that martial law will affect the exercise of civil liberties and labor rights in Mindanao. “There have been several labor strikes in Mindanao since last year and also workers’ protest actions against contractualization. Under martial law, the military can be called to suppress such legitimate acts of redress workers’ grievances. It certainly won’t be the first time such happens,” Magtubo insisted.

PM also called on Congress to revoke the declaration of martial in exercise its prerogatives to review the presidential order. The group has learned that the Congress leadership has informed solons to be on standby up to Friday. According to safeguards embedded in the Constitution, Congress has to affirm any declaration of martial law and may revoke it after 48 hours.

The group further called on Congress to review the state of lawlessness imposed over the whole of the Philippines since September 3, 2016. “The state of lawlessness has not been lifted. The imposition of martial law on top of a declaration of state of lawlessness is an escalating threat to civil liberties, political freedoms and labor rights,” Magtubo averred.

He argued that “We just hope that President Duterte’s Moscow declaration of martial law has not been unduly influenced by the alleged charisma of Putin who has been widely criticized for erecting constitutional authoritarianism in Russia.”

May 24, 2017

Monday, May 1, 2017

The fight for regular jobs, other rights continues

Today is the first Labor Day celebration under the administration of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (PRRD).  Indeed, a quick year had passed when, few days before the Labor Day 2016 celebrations, all presidential candidates, including PRRD, swore before the entire nation to liberate the working class from the endemic problems of contractualization and low wages.  

On contractualization, the PRRD vowed to put an end to the despicable practice of agency-hiring.  On wages, he promised the abolition of provincial rate system which for decades, created inequity and wide disparities in wages between regions and provinces of the country.

Workers had long been fighting for ultimate deliverance from precarious working conditions that made them poor and exploited.  Electing a President who pledges to end the problem of contractualization and low wages was therefore a welcome development to many workers. As such, labor organizations under Nagkaisa labor coalition have been very cooperative with the administration in making it sure that the President’s promises are fulfilled.  

We actively participated in all the workshops, meetings, summits, and Congressional hearings organized by the government to make sure that the interest and specific concerns of the working class on the issue of endo and other rights are recognized and properly addressed by official bodies.  We also held countless conferences, consultations and mass actions to demand attention to our grievances.  We did all these because we want all forms of contractualization prohibited both in the private and public sector.  We even actively sought an audience with the President when we felt betrayed by the labor department on the issue of contractualization. 

Now the hard questions: Did workers get what they deserve from this level of engagement with the government?  Did contractualization end upon the issuance of Department Order (D.O.) 174?  Are other labor and human rights more protected now under the new administration? 

We in Nagkaisa had already expressed our rejection of D.O. 174.  Our demand today is for the President to draw up an Executive Order in line with the workers’ demand for total prohibition of agency-hiring and fixed-term employment and also, to certify as an urgent administration measure HB4444 (Mendoza, TUCP-PL) and HB 556 (Bayan Muna, Anakpawis) which seek the same.

Furthermore, the government has to finally resolve the long-running dispute on outsourcing between the Philippine Airlines (PAL) and the PAL Employees Association (PALEA) to prove the government’s decisiveness in addressing labor rights violations in giant and powerful companies.

On the wage issue, the government should now consider granting workers substantial wage hikes in the face of mounting prices of basic commodities.  At the same time, the proposed tripartite commission to review and revise the existing guidelines and rules on wage-setting should be formed immediately. 

Related to the issue of prices is our demand for the government to adopt new policy measures in addressing the high cost of power and the monopolization of the power industry.

There are several other labor rights issues that were brought out during the February 27, 2017 dialogue with the President. These include:

§  the immediate ratification of ILO Convention 151 which empowers the public sector workers to organize their own associations and unions; 
§  subjecting the appointment of genuine worker representation in tripartite bodies of government and GOCCs to annual official review; 
§  the deputization of trade unions as Labor Law Compliance Inspectors;
§  prohibiting the collection of recruitment fees to OFWs and a ban on sending domestic workers to the Middle East, until their rights and welfare are assured once they get deployed;
§  the holding of quarterly dialogues with the Labor Sector; 

And lastly, Nagkaisa has already expressed alarm that some members undertaking legitimate trade union work may have been killed or arrested on trumped up charges under the cloak of the drug war.

These agenda remain pending before the Office of the President and other concerned government agencies.  Unfortunately the failure to stamp out the problem of contractualization during the last ten months gave this administration a bad mark.  And unless this failure is rectified by corrective measures and affirmative actions in relation to other labor rights demands, a slide into further isolation from the working class population is a serious problem that will hound this administration in days to come.

Today, thousands of workers, youth and women from our member-organizations will be marching along the streets of Espana and Mendiola in Manila as well as in other major cities of the country like Cebu, Bacolod and Davao. Later today, leaders of Nagkaisa will be meeting with PRRD in Davao City to pursue those concerns and to demand accountability from those entrusted to resolve issues in favor of workers.

We will never back down in pressing for these demands through collective negotiations and mass actions.  We have regular jobs and security of tenure to win. And we have other labor and human rights to reclaim!

1 May 2017

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Advisory: Thousands of workers to march from Welcome to Mendiola

1 May 2017
Contact: Wilson Fortaleza


8:00 AM – 12 NN
1 May 2017
Mabuhay Welcome Rotonda to Mendiola

   SCRAP D.O. 174!

Thousands of labor coalition NAGKAISA members will march along the stretch of Espana Boulevard going to Mendiola.  A program particularizing these demands will be held in Mendiola until noon time.

Rallies will also be held in other cities like Cebu, Bacolod and Davao.

[Video/Photo opportunities available]

Thank you very much!


Saturday, April 29, 2017

Asean is not pro-labor

Asean is now the fastest growing region in the world in terms of creating economic wealth. But the real creators of this wealth, the working class, do not reap the benefit of this growth.

During the past 50 years, serious inequality and democracy problems hound the region with its people plunging under dictatorial regimes, one after another, with some living under military juntas. The region in other words was far from being democratic, not even today. And the region's working class are the victims of dictatorships and authoritarianism.

This is mainly the reason why the trade union movement is one of the weakest in the world. There is in fact one country in Asean that has yet to define its labor laws.

Asean is also home to hundreds of export zones where violations of labor rights are rampant. Likewise, migrant workers, particularly women domestic workers from sending countries are into cheap labor and routinely suffer discriminations at work in receiving countries of Asean and in other parts of the world.

Economically, Asean is divided between rich and poor nations, creating in effect a wide income disparity between people in terms of GDP share per capita. Asean is now home to billionaires, landing the Forbes Magazine's list of World's richest people.

But most, if not all of these billionaires, are being deplored by their workers for violating core labor standards such as workers' rights to security of tenure and freedom of association.

Many people in the region also do not enjoy universal social protections thus, were left to live a life of chronic poverty and therefore vulnerable to shocks.

Fifty years of Asean, therefore, is half a century of sufferings and struggles for the region's working class.

Justice for Asean workers!

29 April 2017

Friday, April 28, 2017

Advisory: Youth rally today vs endo

30 April 2017
Contact: Judy Ann Miranda @ 09228677522


Welcome Rotonda

TODAY,   30 APRIL  4:00 PM

Some 100 members of PM-Kabataan, the youth wing of the militant Partido Manggagawa, will hold a rally this afternoon to highlight the pressing issues of recent graduates and young workers.
PMK will call for the abolition of contractualization, decent jobs for new graduates and living wage for young workers. The youth group is challenging the Duterte administration to make good on the "change is coming" promise by urgent action on the problems of endo jobs, youth unemployment and low wages. Recent surveys affirm that jobs, wages and prices are the utmost concerns of Filipinos.
After the rally, the PMK members will march to the nearby Holy Trinity Parish in Balic, Balic, Manila for an evening program and spend the night at the church grounds. They will participate in the big Labor Day rally led by the Nagkaisa labor coalition and be the earliest contingent at Welcome Rotonda on May 1.
Tomorrow, on Labor Day:
7:00 am PM-Kabataan at Welcome Rotonda
8:00 am Nagkaisa assembly along Espana
9:00 am March to Mendiola for a program until noon