Friday, January 22, 2021

Labor group: Umento from employers, ayuda from gov’t needed due to price hikes, job losses

 

The labor goup Partido Manggagawa (PM) is calling for wage hikes from employers and a new round of cash assistance from the government in response to the spikes in prices of food prices and job losses. Today, the Department of Labor and Employment reported that half of reported layoffs last year occurred in the last quarter of 2020.

 

“The working poor and unemployed Filipinos need immediate relief through a combo—umento mula sa kapitalista at ayuda mula sa gobyerno,” declared Rene Magtubo, PM national chair and a Marikina city councilor.

 

PM is calling for a P100 across-the-board wage hike for workers to recover the lost purchasing power since the nominal wage of P537 in Metro Manila has already been eroded to P434 in real wage terms according to the National Wages and Productivity Commission. Together with this, the group is asking that families of the unemployed and informal workers should be given a cash assistance of P10,000 a month.

 

Expenses for food comprise 50% of the budget of poor Filipinos thus the price hikes have a grave impact on nutrition, hunger and well-being. Before the pandemic, PM’s own cost of living survey already reached P1,300 a day, more than double the P537 minimum wage in Metro Manila. Thus PM advocated then an “Apat na Dapat” set of measures to address the gap in wages and cost of living: wage hikes, social security subsidies, tax exemptions and price discounts. It is also challenging Congress to drop the charter change bid and instead discuss the legislation of a minimum wage hike.

 

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that prices of meat and vegetables have risen by 50% to 275% this month compared to January of 2020, before the lockdown due to the covid pandemic were imposed. “Poor Filipinos are reeling from the double whammy of job losses and price increases. No wonder the number of Filipino families going hungry ballooned to 7.6 million according to the September 2020 Social Weather Station survey. This is almost double the 4.2 million hungry families in May which was at the height of the lockdown. This is due to the combo of forced leaves, mass layoffs and price hikes. Thus cash must be put in the pockets of the working poor, the jobless and the hungry,” Magtubo explained.

 

“This combo measure is similar to the stimulus program of newly-elected US President Joe Biden who has announced a $15 per hour minimum wage together with $2,000 in checks for taxpayers. The Philippines should act in just as boldly since we have been ravaged as much as the US by failed policies to contain the pandemic,” Magtubo insisted.

 

He added that “According to the prestigious medical journal Lancet, the Philippines falls in the bottom third of countries in terms of managing the pandemic. Also the International Monetary Fund predicts that the Philippines will suffer the worst economic decline in the next five years due to the severe lockdown implemented. Thus the time to act is now!"


January 22, 2021

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Palengke challenge: Mga kongresista, hinamon ng PM na sa palengke isayaw ang chacha

 

Sa halip na sa sila-sila at sa nakatagong silid ng Kamara de Representantes ginagawa ang pagdinig sa planong charter change (chacha), hinamon ngayon ng Partido Manggagawa (PM) na sa mga palengke ito isayaw ng mga kongresista.

 

“Seryoso ang hamon na ito para makita natin kung sasabay sa indak ng chacha ang masang Pinoy na ngayon ay hindi makaagapay sa sobrang taas ng presyo ng mga bilihin,” pahayag ng Tagapangulo ng PM na si Ka Rene Magtubo.

 

Ang bagong “palengke challenge” ay inilabas ng Partido Manggagawa bilang tugon sa pagbuhay ng planong chacha sa Kamara at sa harap ng labis na pagtaas ng presyo ng mga bilihin, partikular ng pagkain.

 

“Kung sa Kamara ay chacha ang napiling libangan mga kongresman sa panahon ng pandemya, sa mga pelengke ay karera sa presyo ang hinahabol ng masa,” ani Magtubo.

 

Sinabi pa ni Magtubo na isa ring halal na konsehal ngayon ng Marikina, nakikita ngayon sa mga palengke ang malaking galawan ng presyo. Kumpirmado rin umano ito sa price monitoring report ng Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) kung saan makikita ang presyo ng ilang gulay at karne na tumaas mula 50% hanggang 275% kung ikukumpara sa presyo ng mga ito noong nakaraang Enero bago magkaroon ng pandemya.

 

“Paano na ang mga walang trabaho? Katumbas na ng 7 oras na trabaho ang 1 kilong baboy dito sa NCR. Sa real minimum wage na P434/day ngayon ay kailangan ng 3 oras na kayod ng manggagawa para makabili lamang ng 1 kilong repolyo, ampalaya, talong, o sitaw.  Ang kilo ng galunggong ay kalahati na ng sweldo, habang sa labas nga ng NCR ay mataas pa ang presyo ng baboy sa minimum wage,” dagdag pa ni Magtubo.

 

Ipinaliwanag ng PM na halos 50% ng gastusin ng isang pamilya ay napupunta lamang sa pagkain kung kaya’t inaasahan na mataas na presyo ay tataas din ang hunger incidence sa bansa kasabay ng problema sa pandemya at ekonomiya.

 

Sa halip aniya na chacha ay ayuda sa manggagawa at suporta sa magsasaka sa produksyon nila ng pagkain ang inaatupag ng gubyerno lalo na’t ang bakuna sa covid kahit magkaroon nito ay hindi magpapamanhid sa kalam ng sikmura ng mga Pilipino.

 

Ayon pa sa PM, “hindi lang wala sa panahon kundi wala rin sa katwiran” kung ititulak ang chacha ng mga pusher nito mula sa Palasyo at Kongreso habang namamatay at namumulubi ang manggagawa sa krisis na dala ng pandemya.


21 Enero 2021

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Workers to UP: Fight for academic and workplace freedom

Only tyrants are hostile to academic freedom. Sila ang bawal sa UP, hindi ang aktibismo at malayang kaisipan.

 

The Partido Manggagawa (PM) joins the UP community in upholding academic freedom within the UP system in particular and for all other universities and learning institutions in general. Academic freedom does not make enemies of the state. It is, on the contrary, this democratic value that unmasks and unmakes tyranny, bigotry, and fundamentalism.

 

The current generation of workers are surely not aware of this old, little-known pact between UP and the government as represented by the Department of National Defense. Similar to this pact is the ‘50-meter proximity rule’ and non-interfernce during labor disputes that police and military are mandated to observe (Rule 19 Section 3 of 2010 PNP Operational Procedures). This was further upheld by 2011 “Guidelines on the Conduct of the DOLE, DILG, DND, DOJ, AFP and PNP Relative to the Exercise of Workers’ Rights and Activities”.

 

This rule, however, is often violated during strikes and lockouts. Lately, a more systematic way of undermining workplace freedom is imposed with the establishment of Joint Industrial Peace Concern Office (JIPCO) in economic zones or EPZAs.

 

It is in this context that Filipino workers cannot sit idle watching hard-won freedoms collapse in the workplace and campuses because a new tyrant thinks that his only way to preservation is the demolition of human rights.  It is because he is also aware of the fact that it is only freedom that can stop a tyrant from perpetuating his rule. ###

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Workers slam suspension of union elections at biggest Mactan Ecozone firm

 

The labor group Partido Manggagawa slammed the suspension of the proceedings for certification election at three Sports City factories at the Mactan Economic Zone (MEZ). The Sports City group of companies employs some 14,000 workers and is the biggest employer at the MEZ.

 

“Sports City is using legal maneuvers to subvert the workers’ exercise of freedom of association and yesterday it succeeded in delaying the holding of an election at three of its factories on the basis of an appeal to the office of the Labor Secretary. We call on the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to implement the law and the rules which absolutely guarantee the holding of a certification election despite an appeal by the employer,” stated Dennis Derige, PM-Cebu spokesperson.

 

In a pre-election conference yesterday, the DOLE officer handling the petitions for certification election announced that the proceedings are held in abeyance pending the appeal to the Office of the Labor Secretary. Petitions for certification election by rank-and-file unions in Metrowear, Globalwear and Mactan Apparel, and a supervisory union in Globalwear were earlier granted and objections by management dismissed.

 

Derige added that “The certification election at Sports City is a test case for the respect for freedom of association in the ecozones. In MEZ not a single union exists with a collective bargaining agreement due to the pernicious union busting efforts of capitalists. This has led to wage stagnation for workers despite decades of economic growth and productivity rise.”

 

Aside from the four petitions in Sports City, another petition for certification election is pending at First Glory Philippines. All the unions formed at Sports City and First Glory are affiliated to PIGLAS-SENTRO. A labor dispute has erupted at First Glory after the mass layoff of 300 workers, including all of the union officers, last November 27. Last December 22, members of the First Glory labor union voted overwhelmingly to go on strike.

 

“First Glory management has taken a hardline position in all mediation meetings despite being unable to substantiate its claim of losses. We demand that First Glory reinstate all 300 workers that were retrenched as this was done in bad faith and for the purpose of busting the newly-formed union,” declared Cristito Pangan, president of First Glory labor union.

 

The latest mediation hearing yesterday, attended by no less than Lapu Lapu City Mayor Junard Chan, on the First Glory dispute again ended without any agreement. Workers in the Mactan Ecozone have been hit by a series of job losses: Sports City retrenched 4,000 workers, Yuenthai fired 2000 workers, FCO International laid off 100 workers and Kor Landa dismissed 67 workers including union officers.

 

PM however believes that “The mass layoffs and labor disputes at First Glory, Sports City and Arcya Glass in Calamba, Laguna are all symptomatic of the epidemic of labor rights violations during the time of covid. Employers are exploiting the covid-19 crisis to bust unions and shift to contract work.”

January 5, 2021

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Labor Yearender: Workers are in the frontlines of a fight against the pandemic of rights violations

 

Without a doubt, covid-19 has gravely affected everyone, rich and poor, employer and worker. Still, workers and the poor are the ones who have been disproportionately impacted. The double-digit economic recessions in the second and third quarters of this year has been felt as grinding poverty and daily hunger by 7 million Filipino families as revealed in the SWS survey in September.

 

The Philippine economy is in worse shape compared to its neighbors is due to the harsh and long lockdown. It is the authoritarian response of the Duterte administration that is to blame for the economic recession and the adverse effect on the working class. The administration was late in forming a response and once it did, it treated the pandemic—similar to how it treated the drug addiction—as a peace and order concern instead of a public health matter. The severe lockdown shuttered the economy, and left workers and the poor without jobs and livelihood for months on end. The aid provided by the government reached only 3 million households out of 16 million Filipinos who were temporarily jobless during the lockdown. Today 4.5 million are unemployed and 2.2 million more are out of work but are not officially jobless only because they stopped looking for employment.

 

To make matters worse, employers used the pandemic as an opportunity to deny workers their benefits and their rights. Workers were put on floating status for more than the six months allowed by law. Establishments reopened but replaced regular workers with new hires on endo status. Some employers shutdown their firms without paying workers separation and other benefits. Capitalist Grinches are exploiting the pandemic to bust unions as shown by the experience of the Arcya Glass Employees Union in Laguna and the First Glory labor union in the Mactan ecozone.

 

While the pandemic of rights violations spread, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) exercised social distancing from workers. The DOLE released a series of orders and advisories that denigrated labor standards and rights. Labor Advisory 17 allowed employers to cut wages and benefits as long as workers will agree. But workers were left with no choice but to bite the bullet of wage cuts as the DOLE suspended the filing of complaints under DO 213. Labor groups called on the DOLE to dialogue but were repeatedly denied. Meanwhile the government banned protests and arrested those who tried using the pandemic as an alibi. In one incident, the picketline of Sejung Apparel  workers in the First Cavite Industrial Estate was dispersed by police and guards in the middle of Black Friday night for allegedly violating quarantine rules. With workers strikes and street protests effectively banned, Congress railroaded the Anti-Terror Law.

                                    

But workers are fighting back and are in the frontlines of the struggle to reclaim their rights. The Arcya Glass workers spent their holidays in the picketlines to protest the continued operation of the factory despite allegedly being permanently closed. The First Glory labor union has voted to go on strike to demand the reinstatement of 300 fired workers. Labor groups in the Philippines together with international union federations have formed the Caucus of Global Unions Pilipinas to call for the repeal of the Anti-Terror Law on pain of the country losing its trade privileges with Europe. Workers in four big factories in the Mactan ecozone have organized into unions as a result of recent grievances over lack of aid during the pandemic and long-running issues over wages and benefits. Certifications elections are due to be held next year in the four firms. We predict that 2021 will see a resurgence of workers’ actions to defend democratic freedoms and labor rights.


December 29, 2020