Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sein Together union officers reinstated after month-long fight


The union president and seven other union officers of the Korean-owned garments factory Sein Together Philippines were finally allowed to return to work starting November 2. They, together with around 500 workers, were laid off when the factory temporarily shutdown in late August. All the workers were forced or cajoled into resigning and accepting separation pay, except for 20 union officers and members who fought the shutdown as a union busting scheme by the company.

When the factory reopened in late October, the 20 were not allowed to return to work even as some 200 of the retrenched workers, all non-union, were rehired by Sein Together. In a hearing at the labor court in the last week of October, the company stood pat on its refusal to reinstate the union officers. Twelve of the 20 union officers finally accepted the separation offer, believing that that company will never allow them back to work. The labor court hearing was a result of the illegal shutdown complaint filed by the union.

The reinstatement of the remaining eight union officers was the outcome of a series of protests by the union and their suporters, and actions by brands, specifically Disney, on the alleged freedom of association violations at Sein Together. The union expresses its gratitude to their allies in the workers movement, to the International Labor Rights Forum and Disney.

In a mediation meeting facilitated by the Labor Department on November 3, the company formally declared that the eight union officers are reinstated to their former positions. The union asked that all retrenched workers, whether union or non-union members, be rehired. The company refused on the grounds that they have sole discretion to hire workers.

The union’s complaint at the labor court for illegal shutdown remains pending and the workers are demanding backwages for the one-month period of the temporary closure of the factory from late August to late October. The company averred that the closure was due to lack of orders but the union asserts the shutdown was merely a ruse to force workers to resign and bust the union. The shutdown was the culmination of a series of moves by the company to subvert freedom of association since the workers started organizing a union.


The union reports that Disney-branded products are not being manufactured at Sein Together at the present time.

19 November 2017

Friday, November 17, 2017

Workers push for anti-endo EO in airport march



Labor groups are pushing for an executive order (EO) to prohibit contractualization and replace the DO 174 of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). Members of the union Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA) and Partido Manggagawa (PM) marched at the airport today in support of the proposed EO. 

“Filipino workers demand an end to endo as promised by President Rodrigo Duterte. DOLE’s DO 174 falls short of abolishing endo as it merely regulates contractualization, no different from previous orders. Thus the need for an EO that actually prohibits endo,” argued Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and vice-chair of PM.

About a hundred PALEA and PM members marched from the union headquarters at Baclaran to the Philippine Airlines In-Flight Center near the NAIA Terminal 2.

Yesterday different labor groups such as PM, PALEA, the labor coalition Nagkaisa and TUCP-Herrera wing finalized the draft EO and submitted it to the office of DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello. A counterpart EO on contractualization within public sector was also presented.

The two EO’s will then be endorsed for signing by President Rodrigo Duterte, as agreed upon in a dialogue between labor groups and the Secretary Bello last Nov. 8. The workers groups are also calling for another dialogue between labor and President Duterte to get the administration’s commitment to the EO prohibiting contractualization.

In the rally today, PALEA also called on President Duterte to ask Lucio Tan and PAL to likewise fulfill their obligation to some 600 retrenched PAL workers who have yet to be reinstated as regular workers according to the terms of a settlement agreement forged in 2013 to resolve the outsourcing dispute. President Duterte is aware of this as it was brought to his attention in a dialogue with labor groups at Malacanang last February 27.

“Four years ago last November 14, 2013, PAL signed a deal to end the contractualization row at the national flag carrier. PALEA complied with the terms of the settlement agreement including the dismantling of the picketline at the In-Flight Center. PAL however has not honored the most important provision of the agreement which is the re-employment of the outsourced workers,” explained Rivera.

The picket also coincides with a “Global Day of Action against Union Repression” that was observed by workers in Australia, Asia and North America. Yesterday, about a hundred export zone workers in Cavite held a rally as part of the global day of action.

Photos of the airport rally can be accessed at:

PALEA
November 17, 2017

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Media Advisory: In airport rally today, workers push for EO vs endo

Media Advisory
November 17, 2017
PALEA
Contact Gerry Rivera @ 09165047751

Workers push for EO vs endo in airport march

WHAT: March to demand EO vs endo

WHEN: Today, Nov 17, 9:00 am assembly

WHERE: Assembly at PALEA office then march to Philippine Airlines In-Flight Center near NAIA Terminal 2

DETAILS:

Labor groups are pushing for an executive order to prohibit contractualization subject only to certain exemptions. Members of the union Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA) and PM will march this morning in support of the proposed EO. 

Yesterday different workers organizations among them Partido Manggagawa (PM), and the coalition Nagkaisa finalized the draft to be submitted to the DOLE. The EO will then be endorsed for signing by President Rodrigo Duterte, as agreed upon in a dialogue between labor groups and the DOLE last Nov. 8.

In the rally today, PALEA will also call on President Duterte to ask Lucio Tan and PAL to likewise fulfill their obligation to some 600 retrenched PAL workers who have yet to be reinstated as regular workers according to the terms of a settlement agreement forged in 2013 to resolve the outsourcing dispute. President Duterte is aware of this as it was brought to his attention in a dialogue with labor groups at Malacanang last February 27.

Women workers led protest vs abuses at Cavite ecozone


Women workers of the Taiwanese-owned electronics factory Lakepower Converter Inc. in the Cavite Economic Zone held a protest today against company abuses. Among their grievances is the removal of the door of the women’s restroom so that the company can spy on workers. Almost all of the 200 workers in the factory are women.
They are also outraged at the unreasonable limits on the use of the restroom which has led to cases of workers suffering from urinary tract infection. The dispute over the restroom is just the tip of the iceberg of worker grievances at Lakepower.
Aside from the dispute over the women’s restroom, workers are also complaining of excessive quota, discrimination against unionists resulting in suspensions and their exclusion from receiving Christmas packages.
“Management is reneging on an agreement reached a few months ago to redress our grievances. Before, we complained that the restroom door was always kept open. Through mediation, they agreed to close the door to protect the privacy of workers. But now, they removed the door entirely,” stated Mercy Tanginan, president of the Samahan ng mga Manggagawa sa Lakepower Converter Inc.
The picket today is the third protest at the Cavite ecozone over the last month. Earlier, garments workers held protest actions against “factory shutdown-cum-union busting.” After two protests and a strike threat, the union leaders at the Korean-owned garments factory Sein Together Phils. Inc. were eventually accepted back to work.
“ASEAN’s slogan of prosperity for all is just fake news as long as investors from Taiwan, Korea and others abuse and exploit Filipino workers. ASEAN is just facilitating a race to bottom in wages and working conditions with workers in the Philippines made to compete with workers in Vietnam, for example,” asserted Rene Magtubo, PM chair.
Media reported the exodus of Korean companies from the Philippines to Vietnam due allegedly to the high cost of doing business. Workers insist that some of the companies may just be relocating to avoid unionization.
The groups are calling on the Department of Labor and Employment and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority to intervene. Workers are unionizing to improve their working conditions but are being met by extreme interference from capitalists unwilling to share the fruits of production.
The picket also coincides with a “Global Day of Action against Union Repression” to be participated in by workers in Australia, Asia and North America. ###
Photos of the protest can be accessed at:
https://www.facebook.com/partidomanggagawa/posts/10155777572314323

16 November 2017

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

ASEAN is purely business--labor group

 
“The last 50 years of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have proven that, as a whole, the Association is greater than the sum of its parts.”
 
This tagline greets everyone who visits ASEAN2017 website. Another tagline, “Partnering for Change Engaging the World” provides the theme for this year’s summit.  But how such ‘greatness’ and ‘change’ practically mean for the working class of the region?
 
The ASEAN leaders together with their big brothers from the North and Asia and the Pacific like the US, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Korea and China entered and left the Philippines hospitably served by underpaid, non-unionized, contractual employees in the airports, hotels, and fine dining restaurants. Most of them and their entourage may have visited our malls also manned by contractual workers. Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had in fact dropped by a popular food chain employing thousands of contractual workers.  And we can only assume that the order and cleanliness of their summit halls at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) were assigned to job order (JO) workers who were the version of contractual workers in the public sector. These are only some of the examples.
 
In other words the working class has always been the partner of ASEAN during and after its pompous summits – but only as such – the hands that serve the ‘great’ leaders, their ministers and staffs, as well as the bosses of industries who are the most important partners of ASEAN. The Association’s ‘greatness’ therefore, does not belong to us. The ‘change’ it portrays was never us.
 
The region’s civil society organizations (CSOs) describe ASEAN’s half the century of existence as “50 Years of Exclusion”.  We agree to that bold conclusion coming from the community of people with grasps of what real life is within the countries of the ASEAN region. The working class movement in the region can only share the same sentiment.
 
ASEAN, despite the ‘unprecedented growth’ it claims never became a better home for the millions of workers in the region. Not less than one fourth of the region’s population of more than 630 million still live below the poverty line. The region’s ‘stability’ is also nonsense to workers who suffer vulnerability under precarious working conditions with the rise in contractualization and informalization of labor. Half of the region’s workers live on own account under the informal economy while those in the formal sector are burdened by low pay, insecure jobs under contractual employment, and across-the-board violation of other labor standards, including the lack of social protection.
 
Freedom of association, likewise, is never free in ASEAN. This is the reason why trade union density in most countries in the region is very low compared to other regions. It is only about 8% of paid employees in the Philippines; 9% in Malaysia; around 11% in Indonesia; and less than 5% in Thailand. There are even countries in ASEAN that don’t have reliable database of their labor force. Without unions, workers are subject to abuse and different kinds of exploitation.
 
So what ‘greatness’ and ‘change’ our ASEAN leaders were talking about? ASEAN 2017 ended at the same time the most important part of the summit ended – the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit (ABIS), which has always been the most important event of the summit during the last 50 years. This is because ASEAN was none other than a business conference.  It is in this area where trade deals are sealed without major disagreements.
 
But for other issues like labor and human rights, ASEAN is muted into silence as it is in these issues where ASEAN leaders hold sacred their principle of non-interference -- because ASEAN is purely business.

15 November 2017