Saturday, July 7, 2018

Worse times for workers with wages eroded, labor rights threatened



The labor group Partido Manggagawa observed that two years into the term of President Rodrigo Duterte, workers are facing rough times with rising inflation eroding wages and labor rights threatened with charter change.

“Wages must be increased across-the-board nationwide to cope with inflation. Charter change must also be stopped for it will lead to the deterioration of labor rights,” declared Rene Magtubo, national chair of PM.

He added that “Contrary to employers’ opinion, the five-year high inflation in June of 5.2% constitutes a supervening event that should trigger a round of wage increases. But instead of regional wage boards acting in the face of worsening inflation, we call on President Duterte to use his SONA speech to call on Congress for a legislated salary hike. Further, we challenge him to make good on his promise to abolish regional wages and institute a national minimum wage.”

Magtubo insisted that “Chicha hindi cha-cha ang dapat atupagin ng gobyerno. Survey after survey have shown that people do not desire charter change and instead want better jobs, higher wages and lower prices.”

The group is concerned at the proposed new constitution approved by the Constitutional Committee tasked by President Duterte to draft the shift to federalism. PM vowed to mobilize workers in a campaign against the charter change.

“Aside from the loophole that allows for term extension for the sitting president, the draft charter dilutes the rights of workers guaranteed under the present Constitution. Instead of strengthening labor and human rights, they are degraded in the anemic language of the draft Constitution,” Magtubo pointed out.

PM noted that the draft charter dropped explicit recognition of workers’ rights to collective bargaining, to peaceful concerted action including strike, to humane conditions of work, to participation in policy making processes and to labor’s just share in the fruits of production. The group saw similar weakening in the language of protection for human rights and recognition of rights for other marginalized groups in the proposed charter.

“No wonder the phrase ‘The State shall afford full protection to labor’ in the present Constitution was lost in the draft. Even as we assert that the present Constitution can be vastly improved, we will not allow it to be degraded in the meantime,” Magtubo explained.

July 7, 2018

Friday, July 6, 2018

Cavite workers gear up for strike anew



Workers of an electronics factory in the Cavite ecozone are preparing to go on strike once more due to the mass termination of all union officers. The all-women labor union at the Lakepower Converter Inc. filed a notice of strike after mediation talks last Wednesday broke down due to the refusal of management to reinstate eight union officers who were terminated.

The Lakepower women workers went on a five-month strike that started in December 2017 to demand a stop to the harassment of union officers and members. The strike was settled last April due to the intervention of the Department of Labor and Employment. As part of the agreement, 64 union officers and members were to return to work.

“However, Lakepower reneged on the agreement. It reinstated union members but immediately suspended union officers. After a month-long suspension, they were then terminated. This is obviously a case of union busting,” declared Rene Magtubo, chair of Partido Manggagawa (PM), which is assisting the Lakepower women workers.

Lakepower is a Taiwanese-owned parts supplier to global electronics companies like Recom Power, Arrow Electronics, Asus and Texas Instruments. To avert another strike, the National Conciliation and Mediation Board is calling the management and union to conciliation meetings next week.

Magtubo asserted that union busting and harassment of unionists in Lakepower is not an isolated case in the export processing zones. Last week, PM condemned the posting of a “wanted list” of unionists at the gate of the Mactan, Cebu Economic Zone and its security office. Also last week, in the middle of negotiations for a collective bargaining agreement (CBA), a union president and vice president were arrested due to a criminal complaint in Valenzuela.

“We are alarmed at this disturbing pattern of unionists being treated as criminals. Unionism is not a crime. But with the prevailing culture of impunity, employers are emboldened to criminalize unionists and treat them as terrorists,” asserted Magtubo. A global union body had listed the Philippines as among the worst countries for workers in its 2018 Global Rights Index.

Names and pictures of Myra Opada, Luzelie Gesta and Aurelia Parangan were on the “wanted list” in the Mactan ecozone. Opada is union president at Philippine Light Leather Corp. (PLLC), Gesta is secretary of the union and Parangan is an active member. All three have been terminated by PLLC management but the workers have filed cases of union busting, unfair labor practice and illegal dismissal.

Meanwhile, the president and vice president of the labor union at the Nation Paper Products and Printing Corp. (NAPPCO) were arrested and detained at a Valenzuela police station for two days. The CBA negotiations were cancelled as a result of the arrest and detention.

July 6, 2018

Friday, June 29, 2018

Labor group slams criminalization of unionists



The labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM) today condemned the criminalization of unionists in Cebu, Valenzuela and Cavite. In Cebu, a “wanted list” of unionists were posted at the gate of the Mactan Economic Zone and its security office last Wednesday. In Valenzuela, in the middle of negotiations for a collective bargaining agreement (CBA), a union president and vice president were arrested due to a criminal complaint also last Wednesday. Finally in Cavite, criminal complaints were also filed against union officers.

“We are alarmed at this disturbing pattern of unionists being treated as criminals. Unionism is not a crime. But with the prevailing culture of impunity, employers are emboldened to criminalize unionists and treat them as terrorists,” declared Rene Magtubo, national of PM.

Names and pictures of Myra Opada, Luzelie Gesta and Aurelia Parangan were on the “wanted list” in the Mactan ecozone. Opada is union president at Philippine Light Leather Corp. (PLLC), Gesta is secretary of the union and Parangan is an active member. All three have been terminated by PLLC management but the workers have filed cases of union busting, unfair labor practice and illegal dismissal.

Meanwhile, the president and vice president of the labor union at the Nation Paper Products and Printing Corp. (NAPPCO) were arrested and detained at a Valenzuela police station for two days already. The union is trying to raise the P36,000 total bail for the two. The CBA negotiations were cancelled as a result of the arrest and detention.

Cases for falsification of public documents by were filed against union officers at Jisoo Garments Manufacturing Corp. and Dong Seung Inc. in the Cavite ecozone more than a month ago. The criminal complaints followed other instances of harassment by management of active unionists in the two Korean-owned garments factories.

“While police are arresting tambays for crimes that have not been committed, employers are similarly engaged in criminalizing unionists for exercising their rights as workers. Police should instead arrest employers who are illegally employing endo workers, under paying workers for wages and benefits and not remitting deduction for SSS, Pag-ibig and Philhealth,” argued Magtubo.

The group is studying the possibility of a congressional investigation of the spate of incidents of union repression in the country. A global union body had listed the Philippines as among the worst countries for workers in its 2018 Global Rights Index. 

June 29, 2018

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

After citing the Philippines as one of worst: Global union body asked to probe recent cases of workers repression



The labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM) asked the global union body, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), to investigate recent cases of violent dispersals of strikes and harassment of striking workers. The ITUC had listed the Philippines as among the worst countries for workers in its 2018 Global Rights Index.

“If the ITUC report had noted very recent developments like the violent dispersal of the strike at NutriAsia and the harassment of picketlines at Lakepower Converter and Dong Seung in the Cavite export processing zone, the Philippines might even rise from being number 8 to number 1 in the list of worst countries,” stated Rene Magtubo, PM national chair.

Magtubo was referring to the police dispersal last week of the picketline at the condiments giant NutriAsia that led to the arrest of a dozen workers and the wounding of several more. While in the strike at the electronics factory Lakepower Converter, two women workers were hurt when company and ecozone security guards repeatedly attacked the picketline in the dead of the night last December 2017. In the strike at the garments factory Dong Seung last month, ecozone guards tore down placards in the picketline and prevented striking workers from entering the Cavite export processing zone.

“All these incidents of impunity against labor rights at NutriAsia, Lakepower and Dong Seung are in blatant violation of the DOLE-PEZA-PNP Guidelines in the Conduct of Security Personnel During Labor Disputes. The guidelines was a reform enacted in response to findings by the International Labor Organization High Level Mission in 2009. Unfortunately the guidelines remain a piece of paper,” insisted Gerry Rivera, head of the newly established Kapatiran ng mga Unyon at Samahang Manggagawa.

Last Monday, some 200 members of PM and Kapatiran marched to the NutriAsia factory in solidarity with the striking workers. The groups are calling for a boycott of NutriAsia products such as Datu Puti, Silver Swan, UFC and Mang Tomas.

Tomorrow mediations meetings are to be held to resolve the pending disputes at Dong Seung and Lakepower. The DOLE National Office is calling the company and union of Lakepower to a meeting due to the termination of all seven union officers this month despite an agreement forged last April to reinstate all striking workers. Also the National Conciliation and Mediation Board in Cavite is meeting the management and union of Dong Seung because of the dismissal of 16 union officers.

“The mass termination of union officers at Lakepower and Dong Seung are black-and-white examples of union busting by companies. Workers in NutriAsia, Dong Seung, Lakepower and others are organizing in order to improve wages and working conditions but the response of employers is to suppress freedom of association,” concluded Rivera.

June 20, 2018

Monday, June 18, 2018

Workers march to condemn dispersal of NutriAsia picketline, call for boycott




Some 200 workers marched this afternoon in Marilao to the strikebound condiments factory NutriAsia. Members of the Bulacan chapter of Partido Manggagawa (PM), Alyansa ng Maralitang Pilipino, the Bulacan Motorcycle Riders Confederation and a newly established labor group, Kapatiran ng mga Unyon at Samahang Manggagawa, condemned the violent dispersal of the picketline of striking workers last week. Scores of strikers were arrested and several more were wounded as police enforced a court order against the picketline.

The PM-Bulacan and Kapatiran members assembled at the corner of Pantoc and Lambakin in Marilao at 1:00 pm before proceeding to the NutriAsia factory. Members of PM-Bulacan are among the NutriAsia strikers.

“The dispersal of the NutriAsia picketline exposes the double standard of the so-called justice system and also of the present administration. A court order to allow free ingress and egress at the factory is forcibly enforced while a DOLE order to regularize workers remains unimplemented. We have an administration that promised to end endo yet police violence is inflicted upon workers fighting against contractualization,” averred Gerry Rivera, head of the Kapatiran.

The group is calling on the public to boycott products made at the factory until the workers’ demands for regularization is met. NutriAsia manufactures Datu Puti, Silver Swan, UFC Ketchup and Mang Tomas among others.

Kapatiran was formed by several unions and workers associations as a “solidarity space” for unaffiliated and federated organizations. It aims to complement ongoing labor unity efforts even as it plans to campaign for urgent labor reforms.

“We call on the police to observe the DOLE-PEZA-PNP Guidelines on the Conduct of Security Personnel During Labor Disputes. Police are not allowed to escort scabs into a strikebound factory and they should maintain a 50 meter distance from the picketline,” argued Ver Estorosas, chair of the PM-Bulacan.

Rivera called on the labor movement to close ranks in solidarity with the workers of NutriAsia and other labor struggles. He recalled that another workers strike in the Cavite export processing zone in Rosario was also harassed by security guards.

“Solidarity among workers is necessary to defend the right to peaceful concerted actions, including strike and advance the campaign against endo,” argued Rivera. Rivera is also union president of the Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA) which has waged a bitter struggle against contractualization at the national flag carrier. PALEA and Kapatiran are calling on the DOLE to expedite the release of the results of a labor inspection of PAL and its sister company PAL Express.


Partido Manggagawa-Bulacan

June 18, 2018