Wednesday, December 17, 2008
December 17, 2008
The militant labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) in Cebu said that in the Mactan Export Processing Zone (MEPZ), employers axed 4,000 jobs and shortened workdays for 27,000 workers in the last quarter of this year. The group warned that the attacks on living and working conditions would intensify as global crisis deepens next year but also predicted that workers would resist and fight.
More than 200 MEPZ workers gathered yesterday afternoon at Pajo, Lapu-Lapu City to establish the Save the Workers Initiative in Mepz or SWIM. As an organization that embraces both unionized and non-unionized workers, SWIM aims principally to campaign for a bail-out scheme for workers affected by the crisis. “In the midst of the global crisis, if the workers don’t swim then they would sink,” said Dennis Derige, Spokesperson of PM-Cebu.
PM revealed that employers in the electronics, garments and furniture industries are in the forefront of reducing the work force and the working days. The group mentioned as examples the factories Lear, Taiyu-Den, Exas, Toyo-Flex, Maithland Smith, Altamode, KH, PPIC, POIC and GIC. Workers in car parts manufacturing and even call centers such as IZUMI and Western Wats also suffered the same problems.
The group also said that in Mandaue City 600 workers lost their jobs while 700 were affected by forced leaves, rotations and shortened workdays. PM cited Giardini Del Sole, COSONSA, Arkaine, Neostone, President Marine and Energizer as cases in point.
Resort workers in Lapu-Lapu City are also feeling the brunt of the crisis as their workdays were cut down to 4 or 5 days a week. PM said that it is a sign that Cebu’s tourism industry is careening towards trouble.
“These figures are an underestimation since it is limited by our organizational reach and chapter reports. We must access the data of DOLE –Region 7 for the past three months to see the more complete picture,” Derige explained.
PM also noted that some companies in MEPZ did not follow procedures and standards in terminating employees as stipulated in the Labor Code. The required 30 days notice prior to termination were not observed; a blackmail scheme of “resign or retrench” were resorted to in order that employers could evade paying separation benefits in the amount of half month per year of service; and regular workers were laid off while a huge force of agency workers were maintained. “The workers are being killed twice! First, we are being forced to bear the crisis that is not of our own making, stripping us of our right to live. Second, and this angers us the most, capitalists are using the crisis as an excuse to violate labor standards and labor rights, stripping us of what is due to us and greedily pocketing them as bigger profits,” lamented Derige.
However, PM also observed that the workers are not taking these attacks sitting down. Workers in MEPZ are beginning to discuss in their canteens, workplaces and communities the courses of action to be taken. “We have monitored a 20% rise in the number of labor cases filed before the National Labor Relations Commission–RAB 7. We also noticed a barrage of labor standard–related inquiries by the workers at the office of DOLE–Region 7. Soon this will erupt into a formidable movement pushing for the workers alternative solution to the crisis,” asserted Greg Janginon, President of PM–Cebu.
Besides calling on the government for bailout measures for workers, the objectives of SWIM are:
1. Serve as a watch-dog on employers’ abuses and violations of labor standards and labor relations;
2. Organize MEPZ workers in a common fight against the attacks on living and working conditions;
3. Educate the workers on existing labor laws;
4. Provide legal assistance; and
5. Call for system change as the long term solution to the crisis.
Lucena Sellar, a worker from MEPZ states that “Government should do its job of saving the workers. Workers have faithfully financed the government through taxes, now it is time for the state help the workers through subsidies, tax rebates and a massive public employment program.”
PM criticized DOLE’s program for the affected workers as “not enough and too bureaucratic.” The group argued that the Workers’ Income-Augmentation Program (WIN-AP) is limited only to unionized workers who still have jobs while the Assistance Measure Program or (AMP) for displaced workers is so slow that upon the release of the assistance funds, the affected workers and their families are already starving to death. Also the PhP 5,000 livelihood assistance per displaced worker is full of conditions and is almost inaccessible to an unorganized worker. Furthermore, AMP has an allotment of PhP 1 million so that only 200 workers can avail of the said program.
“The company which I’m working with right now has 11,000 workers. If our company goes bankrupt then DOLE’s program is too insufficient. What we need is a major redirection of government’s budget appropriation from debt servicing to social services,” Sellar emphasized.
December 17, 2008
Some 200 members of Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) and the Alyansa ng Maralitang Pilipino (AMP) joined the farmers’ mobilization on the last day of session of Congress to back the demand for an extension of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. The groups carried placards with the messages “Lupa, Trabaho, Pagkain Hindi Cha-Cha,” “CARP Extension Hindi Term Extension,” and “Maralita Magkaisa, Baguhin ang Sistema.”
“The urban poor and the rural farmers are brothers and sisters in the struggle for agrarian reform. An alliance between the urban and rural poor is necessary not just to push for social justice but also social change. A one-two punch by the workers and farmers will provide the knock-out blow against the rotten system and pave the way for social reform,” stated Jess Panis, spokesperson of AMP.
He added that “The urban poor does not support the so-called genuine agrarian reform bill because it is a right demand but at the wrong place and the wrong time. Pushing for it now objectively puts its proponents in alliance with the landlords that oppose agrarian reform. Its proper venue is a revolutionary government not the reactionary Congress.”
PM supports the peasants’ campaign for a continuation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). The group is also demanding that Congress and Malacanang enact a bailout at stimulus package for workers and poor. Panis identified the package as “The SSS, GSIS and OWWA must subsidize all private sector workers, government employees and OFW’s who will be laid off due to the crisis that should last until they find a new job up to a maximum of 6 months. Government must also declare a tax rebate for all workers equivalent to 2 months wage. And a public employment program must be established for the four million unemployed Filipinos.”
Fact Sheet and Timeline
Parties to the dispute: Wesleyan University-Philippines owned by the United Methodist Church of the Philippines and located at Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija (a provincial city to the north of Metro Manila). Wesleyan University-Philippines Faculty and Staff Association (WUPFSA-LAGMAN). The union president is Corazon Gonzales and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
29 May 2006: Union submits CBA proposal
June to Nov 2006: No movement in negotiations. University board of trustees rejects some economic demands of the union
22 Sept 2006: Union president receives memo re serious misconduct complaint by 12 students and in the same day is handed down a preventive suspension for 30 days
Union president is subsequently dismissed. Union charges that suspension violates CBA provisions on job security and union security, and even the Manual of Regulations for Private Schools. Union alleges harassment
1 Oct 2006: Union files a case for unfair labor practice at the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB)
3, 4, 20 Oct 2006: Eleven of twelve accusers successively retract their complaints. In their retraction students say the complaint was merely orchestrated by the lone remaining complainant who is a live in partner of a friend of the University legal counsel
2 Nov 2006: Union files a case for CBA deadlock at NCMB
23 Nov 2006: Union files a notice of strike
30 Nov 2006: Office of the Secretary of Labor assumes jurisdiction (AJ) of labor dispute
2 July 2007: Protest rally by the union on University’s 61st foundation day. Marching band played mournful songs while union members protested outside University campus
28 Jan 2008: University files cases vs. union president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, auditor, pro and spokesperson for violation of AJ order on the basis of the protest rally of 2 July 2007. This is two days before a scheduled local union election. Union alleges harassment and union busting
19, 20 Feb 2008: University recommends union officers be found guilty of violating AJ
3 Jan 2008: Office of the Labor Secretary decides on the labor dispute. Orders the following:
Execute a CBA for the period 1 June 2006-31 May 2008
Dismisses union complaint re unfair labor practice for refusal to bargain
Finds University guilty of union busting
Invalidates preventive suspension and dismissal of union president
Reinstates union president with full back wages and benefits
“We need not overstretch our imagination too that the acts of the University that we invalidated here were undertaken to cripple the Union’s representation at bargaining. On the whole, the totality of the University’s acts sufficiently shows the University’s interference with or restraint on the employees’ exercise on their right to self-organization.”
15 Jan 2008: University files motion for reconsideration on the 3 January 2008 decision. Starts a series of pleadings from both parties
7 Oct 2008: Office of the Labor Secretary issues an Omnibus Resolution on the all the cases arising from the labor dispute. The decision of 3 January 2008 is affirmed.
University has filed a petition for review of the Omnibus Resolution at Court of Appeals. Case is still pending.
29 Oct 2008: University holds a “peace and development seminar” for employees. Sgt. Edgar Dimalanta of the Civil Affairs Office of the 71st Infantry Division of the Philippine Army says that union can suffer the same bloody fate as the Hacienda Luisita workers if they insist on presence of the union president in the CBA negotiations. He also declares that the military has received reports the union is infiltrated by communist guerillas
25 Nov 2008: Sgt. Dimalanta tells the union vice-president that military men will visit their homes after the latter refused the former’s invitation to meet the union executive committee
2 Dec 2008: Union files complaint at the Commission on Human Rights against the Armed Forces of the Philippines for harassment
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
December 16, 2008
A hundred displaced workers of a closed factory in the export processing zone in Rosario, Cavite picketed the offices of the Philippine Export Processing Zone Authority (PEZA) administrator around 2 p.m. today despite a ban on protest actions inside the compound. The workers were demanding that their union be consulted on the disbursement by the PEZA of PhP 1.69 million in money claims.
A momentary scuffle occured when PEZA guards unsuccessfully tried taking away the workers placards. However the workers were able to maintain the picket inside the PEZA compound while another group protested outside the gates. After a dialogue with the PEZA administrator, the union got its demand to be consulted.
The amount was the proceeds from the sale of the assets of the Sapphire Phils. garments factory that unceremoniously shutdown last January 15, 2007. According to Marites Manjares, union president of Sapphire Phils., “There were 300 workers when our factory closed down. But the PEZA masterlist ballooned to more than double with 640 names. This is new case of dagdag-bawas (addition-subtraction). The added names will result in lesser claims to be received by legitimate worker beneficiaries.”
“When the Korean owner of Sapphire Phils. suddenly left the country, the factory shutdown without the required 30 days notice and without giving any separation pay to the workers. Thus we filed a case at the Department of Labor for illegal closure and money claims. Now that the PEZA has sold the assets of the company, we want them to talk and coordinate with the union so that legitimate beneficiaries receive what is due them,” insisted Manjares.
The Rosario Workers Association and the Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) supported the picket of the Sapphire Phils. workers. Dennis Sequenia, chairperson of PM-Cavite declared, “In Chicago, USA workers occupied the Republic Windows and Doors when the factory closed without the necessary notice and without the required separation pay. They got their demands after six days of occupying the plant and winning even the support of President-elect Barack Obama. The Sapphire Phils. case is no different though the workers are not asking for the support of President Gloria Arroyo but simply that they not be prohibited from holding their protest action.”
“Labor discontent is simmering at the export zone as the global crisis impacts thousands of workers with layoffs and rotations, reduced hours and reduced pay. Today it is a picket at the PEZA office. Tomorrow it may be an occupation of a factory inside PEZA,” warned Sequenia.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Armando Robles, UE Local 1110 President
and the Workers of Republic Windows and Doors
Greetings of solidarity!
On behalf of the working class of the Philippines, the Partido ng Manggagawa (Labor Party-Philippines) expresses its support for the struggle of the Republic workers and extends its congratulations to your victorious fight. Your militant struggle is a shining example to the workers of the world of how to fight and how to win in the period of globalization and in the context of the crisis.
The particular case of Republic Windows and Doors reveals in stark contrasts the gross inequities and double standard of the system. The workers are being made to bear the burden of resolving the crisis that is not of their own making. The innocent masses are being punished for the crimes of a few. Corporate losses are socialized but profits remain privatized.
Truly the workers can only depend upon our own movement and our own struggle to protect and advance our common interests. You have rediscovered for a new generation of US workers the value of the sit down strike and direct action that in the 1930’s resulted in the greatest gains in unionization, wages and job security in American history. Your successful fight is an inspiration not just for fellow workers in the US but for all workers anywhere in the world.
In the Philippines, the initial impact of the global economic crisis is already being felt in the export-oriented factories whose clients are in the US, Japan and Europe. Permanent closures, temporary shutdowns and work rotation have in the last four months affected thousands of garments, electronics and furniture workers. These retrenchments and rotations are the herald of the grave unemployment that will result when the global recession reaches maturity and fully impacts the Philippines.
Thus the workers in the Philippines, through the Partido ng Manggagawa, are campaigning for economic relief in the face of the economic calamity in the form of a bailout of the poor not the rich. This means a subsidy for laid off workers until they can find new jobs, a tax refund for all workers amounting to two months pay and a public employment program for the four million unemployed Filipinos. Beyond these immediate issues, we are also pushing longer term demands, among them is reopening closed factories through confiscation if necessary.
Workers in the Philippines and in America are brothers and sisters in struggle. Ironically this is partly due to the legacy of US occupation of the Philippines. Likewise, Filipinos and Latinos share a cultural heritage rooted in Spanish colonialism. But more than that, under globalization, all workers now have the same problems—low wages, insecure jobs, part-time work, loss of benefits, deteriorating services, labor repression, vanishing health and pension plans, etc.
Workers are being forced by the capitalists to compete with workers in other countries in a race to the bottom in wages and working conditions. Instead the workers of the world must link up in arms in solidarity to lift ourselves out of poverty and destitution.
The story of the fight and victory of the Republic workers has not broken through the corporate controlled mainstream media in the Philippines. But through the labor press and mass meetings, we will report your successful fight to the workers in the Philippines for they have lessons to learn from it. And when the workers of the Philippines recapture the tradition of our militant unionism of the 1980’s, then we can share the lessons of our own experiences too to the workers of the US and the world.
For labor solidarity,
Chairperson, Partido ng Manggagawa
President, Fortune Tobacco Labor Union
Vice-Chairperson, Partido ng Manggagawa
President, Philippine Airlines Employees Association
December 8, 2008
The national federation of teaching, culture and vocational training, Fédération Nationale de l’Enseignement, de la Culture et de la Formation Professionnelle, de la Confédération Générale du Travail - Force Ouvrière (FNEC FP-FO), affiliated to the CGT- Force Ouvrière confederation, has been informed of the alarming situation prevailing at Nueva Ecija Universty in the Philippines.
In a press conference, the Wesleyan University-Philippines Faculty and Staff Association (WUPFSA-LAGMAN) denounced the interference and harassment by the military in their labor dispute.
According to WUPFSA-LAGMAN, a certain Sgt. Edgar Dimalanta of the Civil Affairs Office of the 71st Infantry Division of the Philippine Army has been issuing veiled threats, and pressuring union officers and even some union members to force them to sit down with him for a meeting he had convened.
In a recent incident last November 25, Sgt. Dimalanta told Engr. Melquiades Guevarra, the union vice-president, that military men will visit them in their homes after the latter refused the former's invitation to meet the union executive committee.
Corazon Gonzalez, President of the Union declared: "The circumstances clearly show that Sgt. Dimalanta is being used by the university administration headed by Atty. Guillermo T. Maglaya in his effort to bust the union and sabotage negotiations for a collective agreement."
The right to join the union of one's own choosing, the right to negotiate collective agreements are inalienable rights enshrined in ILO conventions 87 and 98 which are recognized at the international level.
We, FNEC FP-FO express our solidarity with the staff of the university of the Philippines fighting with their union for a collective agreement.
Wesleyan University-Philippines Faculty and Staff Association must be able to exert these rights without any interference from the military nor from any authority whatsoever.
12/09/2008 12:08 PM
MANILA, Philippines - Militant workers and urban poor on Tuesday started a two-day protest demonstration as they marched from Las Piñas City to Baclaran to oppose moves to push Charter change.
In a statement, Partido ng Manggagawa said members from various militant groups started the march 8 a.m. to the Redemptionist Church in Baclaran where they were met by other groups from depressed communities of Manila's Tondo district and the cities of Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, and Valenzuela.
The group will then march to the Department of Labor and Employment via Taft Avenue where participants from Caloocan, Bulacan and Rizal are expected to join them. At 6:00 p.m. the protesters will hold a noise barrage at the Welcome Rotonda.
The labor groups are expected to make an overnight vigil and then merge with farmers’ groups that will troop to the Batasang Pambansa on Wednesday.
Partido ng Manggagawa Secretary- General Judy Ann Miranda said instead of focusing on Charter change, the government should first address more basic concerns to help the poor cope with the global economic crisis.
"The reduction in self-rated poverty revealed in the SWS survey does not mean the government is doing its job well. In fact it is doing its job badly and so the people are just reducing their standard of living as a coping mechanism. Rather than focusing on Cha-cha in order to remove the protectionist provisions of the constitution, the government must instead prioritize protection for the workers and the poor so they could deal with the global crisis," Miranda said.
The group also echoed calls for the continuation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
Miranda said that the government should also consider coming up with a "stimulus package" that may include a subsidy to all private sector workers, government employees and OFW's who will be laid off due to the crisis that should last until they are re-employed up to a maximum of six months.
In addition, she urged the government to declare a tax rebate for all workers equivalent to two months wage as well as a public employment program for over four million unemployed Filipinos.
Tha protest rally will be a prelude to the anti-Charter change rally scheduled on December 10 in Makati City which will be participated by Catholic bishops, Labor union groups, militant groups, transport groups and students. - Mikhaela De Leon, GMANews.TV
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
December 10, 2008
The Lakbayan ng Manggagawa merged today with the farmers march for a joint mobilization at the Batasang Pambansa with the call “Maralita Magkaisa, Baguhin ang Sistema (Poor Unite and Fight for Social Change).” The Lakbayan ng Manggagawa by a thousand factory workers and urban started yesterday from Zapote Bacoor, passed by Redemptorist Church in Baclaran, marched through Taft and Espana in Manila and then made an overnight vigil at the Claret School in QC.
“The merging of the Lakbayan ng Manggagawa and the farmers march is an expression of the basic alliance between the workers and farmers. A one-two punch by the workers and farmers will provide the knock-out blow against the rotten system and pave the way for social change,” stated Renato Magtubo, chairperson of the Partido ng Manggagawa (PM).
The Lakbayan ng Manggagawa made a final stop at the main office of the NHA for a noise barrage at 9 a.m. to air the poor’s grievances at the failed housing program of the government. Fr. Buddy Agualada, school head of Claret, and scores of Claret students and personnel joined the workers and poor in the NHA protest.
“The sanctuary provided by the church to the Lakbayan marchers and the support of ordinary Filipinos to our demands is in sharp contrast to Malacanang and Congress which are deaf and blind to the opposition of the people to charter change. Rather than focusing on chacha in order to remove the protectionist provisions of the constitution, the government must instead prioritize protection for the workers and the poor so they could deal with the global crisis,” explained Magtubo.
The Lakbayan ng Manggagawa then proceeded to Philcoa where it combined with the peasant marchers. By 10 a.m. the workers and farmers marched together to the St. Peter Cathedral along Commonwealth Ave. for a mass be officiated by Catholic bishops at noon. The big mobilization then proceeded to the Batasan Pambansa for a program at the gates to pressure Congress to pass the proposed bill for CARP extension.
The Lakbayan ng Manggagawa participants came from PM, Alyansa ng Maralitang Pilipino, Zone One Tondo Organization, Samahang Nagkakaisa ng Cavite, United Cavite Workers Association and unions of Valenzuela City. PM supports the peasants’ campaign for a continuation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) and slams the inaction of Congress on the proposed bill for extension. The group is also demanding that Congress and Malacanang enact a bailout at stimulus package for workers and poor.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
December 9, 2008
The Lakbayan ng Manggagawa begins today with the call “Baguhin ang sistema hindi ang konstitusyon!”(Social change not charter change!).” Around a thousand factory workers and urban poor will march through different parts of Metro Manila, make an overnight vigil and then merge with the farmers’ mobilization that will troop to the Batasang Pambansa tomorrow.
“The reduction in self-rated poverty revealed in the SWS survey does not mean the government is doing its job well. In fact it is doing its job badly and so the people are just reducing their standard of living as a coping mechanism. Rather than focusing on chacha in order to remove the protectionist provisions of the constitution, the government must instead prioritize protection for the workers and the poor so they could cope with the global crisis,” argued Judy Ann Miranda, secretary-general of Partido ng Manggagawa (PM).
The Lakbayan ng Manggagawa starts with the Calabarzon contingent meeting at 8 a.m. in Zapote at the boundary of Bacoor and Las Pinas. They then marched the several kilometers to the Redemptorist Church in Baclaran where groups from depressed communities of Tondo and Camanava, and relocation areas in Caloocan, Bulacan and Rizal met them around noon. At 4 p.m. they held a program at the DOLE main office in Intramuros. By 6 p.m. the marchers stopped for a while at Welcome Rotonda for a noise barrage. The Lakbayan ng Manggagawa participants came from PM, Alyansa ng Maralitang Pilipino, Zone One Tondo Organization, Samahang Nagkakaisa ng Cavite, United Cavite Workers Association and unions of Valenzuela City.
Miranda explained that “The Lakbayan is the workers response to the call of the Catholic bishops for people to work for social change. The merging of forces of the workers and the peasants is not just a symbolic gesture and not simply an expression of their common struggle. No movement for social change can succeed without the basic alliance between the workers and farmers.”
PM supports the peasants’ campaign for a continuation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) and slams the inaction of Congress on the proposed bill for extension. The group is also demanding that Congress and Malacanang enact a bailout at stimulus package for workers and poor.
Miranda identified the package as “The SSS, GSIS and OWWA must subsidize all private sector workers, government employees and OFW’s who will be laid off due to the crisis that should last until they find a new job up to a maximum of 6 months. Government must also declare a tax rebate for all workers equivalent to 2 months wage. And a public employment program must be established for the four million unemployed Filipinos.”
A noise barrage at several points in Metro Manila yesterday served as prelude and build up to the two-day Lakbayan. A few hundred participants to the noise barrage banged pots and pans to dramatize the opposition to chacha.
Monday, December 8, 2008
December 8, 2008
A noise barrage held today in different parts of Metro Manila called for “social change not charter change.” The coordinated activity was a build up for the Lakbayan ng Manggagawa that will start tomorrow and then merge with the peasant marchers on Wednesday for a big joint mobilization.
The coordinated noise barrage was launched in the following five points in Metro Manila: NHA, Elliptical Road, QC; Sto. Nino Church, Tondo, Manila; Bicutan Interchange, Paranaque; Sangandaan, Caloocan; and Royal Mall, Malinta Exit, Valenzuela. The noise barrage commenced at 5 p.m. except the NHA activity which was held earlier at 1 p.m. A hundred workers and poor in every one of the five areas banged pots and pans to dramatize their protest.
“Instead of railroading chacha, Malacanang and Congress should push for a bailout of the workers and the poor in the face of the global economic crisis,” stated Renato Magtubo, chairperson of Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), one of the organizations involved in the noise barrage. He also welcomed the TUCP’s opposition to chacha but added that “We only ask that they match their words with deeds. They should join the urban and rural poor joint rally on Wednesday.”
PM will lead the Lakbayan ng Manggagawa on Tuesday that will involve more than a thousand members of Alyansa ng Maralitang Pilipino, Zone One Tondo Organization, Samahang Nagkakaisa ng Cavite at United Cavite Workers Association. The Lakbayan marchers will pass through various points of Metro Manila and hold an overnight vigil at an undisclosed church compound. On Wednesday the Lakbayan ng Manggagawa will resume and combine with the farmer mobilization that will troop to the Batasan Pambansa.
“The merging of forces of the workers and the peasants, of the urban and rural poor, is a response to the call of the Catholic bishops for social change. An alliance between the workers and the peasants is the necessary condition for changing Philippine society. Nothing is impossible if the workers and farmers unite and fight,” asserted Magtubo.
PM declared its support for the farmers demand for an extension of Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) and condemnation of the landlord resistance. Meanwhile the group is campaigning for a bailout at stimulus package for workers and poor. Magtubo explained that “SSS, GSIS and the OWWA must release funds sufficient to subsidize all private sector workers, government employees and OFW’s who will be laid off due to the crisis that should last until they find a new job up to a maximum of 6 months. Government must also declare a tax rebate for all workers equivalent to 2 months wage, in effect giving them a 14th and 15th month salary. And a public employment program must be established for the four million unemployed even before the onset of the present crisis.”
December 8, 2008
Some 300 beneficiaries of a condominium project located at C-5 Taguig designed to benefit the poor and government employees carried out a silent protest in front of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) as they demanded that the Home Guarantee Corporation (HGC) recognize the housing rights of the poor families instead of making the housing project a milking cow of their agency. The protesters called the HGC “a scrooge that is stealing Christmas from the poor.”
Vilma Estidola, president of the Perpetual Help Neighborhood Association of Guadalupe Bliss Inc. (PNAGBI), said “We never wished to be delinquent in our amortization payments but we could not pay our obligations due to the low income of majority of the beneficiaries. About 75% of us are working as laundry women, carpenters and garbage collectors. We are earning a meager 4,500 pesos a month, a family income that could not even provide a decent meal.”
PNAGBI members were relocated from Guadalupe in 1997 and Estidola claimed that they have not received any livelihood assistance despite repeated demands. “Instead the HGC has responded by sending out letters of cancellations and demand letters to vacate our homes. The irony is that the Aquino administration thru Presidential Proclamation 258 provided us the four hectare land as relocation area but then the HGC converted it to a condominium project without prior consultation,” she insisted.
Mark Sison, president of the Building C-17 Neighborhood Association, said “The government knows so well that teachers, local government employees and rank and file military men earn less than 9,500 a month. Yet the condominium units are amortized at 5,000 per month with 14% interest! Presidential Proclamation 103 was meant to provide shelter for government employees but excessive amortization payments are denying us the intent of the law.”
Both groups demanded the lifting of cases and cancellation of contracts filed by the HGC. They are also asking full condonation of the penalties and interest rates imposed in the contracts since it already constitutes 90% of monthly amortization of beneficiaries.
According to Michelle Licudine, Partido ng Manggagawa organizer, “The penalties and interest rates imposed by the HGC are onerous since beneficiaries are living in dire poverty. This housing project was built to provide shelter for the poor and government employees! It is time that the government bailout homeowners from heavy penalties since restructuring of loans are not enough.”
The protesters attended a hearing mediated by the CHR at 2:00 p.m. The protesters however declared that if the negotiation fails to gain recognition of their rights, they will rally at the Senate, House of Representatives and the HGC main office. They are also considering filing a case at the Ombudsman since they assert that the HGC does not have jurisdiction to manage a housing project.
December 7, 2008
WHAT: Picket protest by some 300 residents of Cavite to demand that the DENR move to stop the quarrying at the beaches of Rosario and Tanza towns
WHERE: DENR Main Office, Elliptical Road, QC
WHEN: 11 a.m. tomorrow, December 8, 2008, Monday
DETAILS: The protesters will be led by the New Rosario Movement and Partido ng Manggagawa. They will ask the DENR to end the quarry operations at the beaches of Rosario and Tanza towns that the people allege are destroying both the environment and their livelihood. Many Rosario and Tanza residents earn their living through fishing. The soil quarried at Rosario and Tanza is used for reclamation work at the Baseco area of Tondo, Manila.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
December 3, 2008
Alyansa ng Maralitang Pilipino
Some 500 homeless who had occupied a vacant prime lot in Paranaque declared victory yesterday after the mayor made a commitment not to evict them. In a dialogue with the urban poor leaders at city hall yesterday, Paranaque Mayor Florencio “Jun” Bernabe moreover pledged to talk to the landowner next week to seek an agreement on acquiring the land and legalizing the occupation by the homeless of the disputed land.
Robert Labrador, president of the Alyansa ng Maralitang Pilipino (AMP) in the Metro South area said that “We praise Mayor Bernabe for respecting the people’s right to housing and for making the city’s commemoration of Human Rights Day concrete not just symbolic. But most all of all we salute the poor for standing up for their rights. The poor have nothing except for their movement.”
The leaders of the homeless announced that Mayor Bernabe will negotiate with Mr. Tinitigan of the real estate company Molave Corp. which owns the Merville tract of land for an acceptable valuation of the land and terms of acquisition. The successful dialogue followed a tense period for the homeless who revealed that on the first day of their occupation, the urban poor affairs office of city hall accompanied by the police including a SWAT team went to the Merville lot in an attempt to prevent the movement of the people going in and out of the disputed land. “No untoward incident happened though since we rationally explained our cause even as we firmly showed by our unity that we will not leave our homes,” explained Labrador.
Nena Olbina, secretary of AMP-Metro South, argued that “We are willing to pay for the land we had occupied but it cannot be at the market price. We applaud Mayor Bernabe for understanding that the price has to be at a level that the poor can afford. The so-called market price is bloated and not fair at all since it reflects the speculative nature of the real estate business. And with the explosion of the financial crisis, we all know now how harmful speculation by the rich is.”
“Even as the homeless of Paranaque celebrate a merry Christmas this season, the lesson we have learned is clear—only by fighting for our rights will the poor gain the dignity we deserve. This victory was not given to us, we fought for it. The urban poor struggling for their right to housing is no different from the rural poor fighting for their land to till,” stated Eduardo Casuy, president of the Paranaque chapter of Partido ng Manggagawa (PM).
On the eve of Bonifacio Day the homeless started building makeshift houses in the 1.2 hectare lot. The land sits right beside a recently built condominium and supermarket by the Gokongweis, and is just a stone’s throw away from the SM mall in Bicutan. Most of the urban poor who direct occupied the vacant lot came from the Tucuma Federation who successfully petitioned for the expropriation of the land in 2000. Others were victims of a violent demolition that happened November 30, 2005 in the nearby Cul-de-sac area.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
December 2, 2008
Just days before the commemoration of human rights day, the faculty and staff union of the Wesleyan University in Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija denounced today in a press conference the interference and harassment by the military in their labor dispute. “We appeal to the government and the AFP to stop the use of military personnel in the harassment of workers involved in a labor dispute. Labor rights are human rights. This violation of labor rights becomes more glaring with the coming observance of human rights day,” declared Corazon Gonzales, the union president.
According to the Wesleyan University-Philippines Faculty and Staff Association (WUPFSA-LAGMAN), a certain Sgt. Edgar Dimalanta of the Civil Affairs Office of the 71st Infantry Division of the Philippine Army has been issuing veiled threats, and pressuring union officers and even some union members to sit down with him for a meeting. In a recent incident last November 25, Sgt. Dimalanta told Engr. Melquiades Guevarra, the union vice-president, that military men will visit them in their homes after the latter refused the former’s invitation to meet the union executive committee. “The circumstances clearly show that Sgt. Dimalanta is being used by the university administration headed by Atty. Guillermo T. Maglaya in his effort to bust the union and sabotage negotiations for a CBA,” Gonzales added.
After the press conference, the union officers of WUPFSA-LAGMAN trooped to the office of the Commission on Human Rights. Gonzales stated that “The union officers fear for our lives because of the blatant interference and intimidation by the military.” The union has also sent letters to the offices of the President of the Philippines, Chief Justice and Labor Secretary among others. They are also appealing for solidarity from the labor movement and human rights advocates. Officers of the labor federation LAGMAN to which the union is affiliated and the Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) expressed their support for the workers.
The harassment started with a “peace and development seminar” that was called by the administration for its employees last October 29. In the seminar, Sgt. Dimalanta, shrewdly threatened the union by saying that they can suffer the same bloody fate as the Hacienda Luisita workers if they insisted on the union president sitting in the CBA negotiations and that the military has received reports the union is infiltrated by communist guerillas.
In the past three years the union has charged the administration with unfair labor practices and violations of the collective bargaining agreement. On two occasions the Department of Labor and Employment has handed down decisions in favor of the union, finding the management guilty of union busting and ordering the reinstatement of the union president who was illegally dismissed. The administration of Wesleyan University, which is owned by the United Methodist Church, has refused to implement the orders and has rejected negotiations for a CBA on the alibi that the union president has been dismissed.
December 2, 2008
Judy Ann Miranda
Partido ng Manggagawa
The Partido ng Manggagawa supports the Wesleyan University-Philippines Faculty and Staff Association (WUPFSA-LAGMAN) in its fight against the vicious labor repression by the military and in its struggle against the virulently anti-labor management at the helm of Wesleyan University.
Aside from Colombia, the Philippines is the worst country for trade unionists, who are routinely killed or harassed by agents of the government and the military. We call on our brothers and sisters in the labor movement to close ranks in defense of the union leaders of WUPFSA-LAGMAN and other victims of labor repression.
The harassment suffered by the Wesleyan union is no different from two cases of unions right here in Metro Manila who were similarly intimidated by military personnel. In September 2006 military men held an anti-communist teach-in for the union leaders of Manila Bay Spinning Mills in Marikina. Before that, they held the same seminar for the union of Armscor also in Marikina.
The vicious agenda of labor repression is clear—to strike fear in the hearts of workers and terrorize them against political involvement. With a terrorized and docile labor, it will be easier to cheapen the price of labor power. Labor repression is bound to intensify with workers discontent at the impact of the global crisis erupting into struggles and strikes.
We hold the administration of Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ultimately accountable for the deaths and harassment of labor leaders for even granting that it is not the mastermind behind the death squads running amok, its inaction on political killings and labor repression is goading the enemies of labor to act with impunity.
December 2, 2008
Alyansa ng Maralitang Pilipino
The leaders of some 500 homeless in Paranaque who occupied a vacant prime lot in Merville last Saturday met Mayor Florencio “Jun” Bernabe in a dialogue at the city hall. The Paranaque mayor had asked the urban poor leaders to him in a bid to resolve the housing issue.
Robert Labrador, president of the Alyansa ng Maralitang Pilipino (AMP) in the Metro South area, Nena Olbina, secretary of AMP-Metro South and Eduardo Casuy, president of the Paranaque chapter of Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), represented the urban poor in the dialogue.
Labrador asserted in the dialogue that “It is just a few days before the world celebrates Human Rights Day and we demand that the government observe it seriously by respecting the people’s right to housing. The occupation by the homeless was within the bounds of the law since City Ordinance No. 0013671 series of 2000 signed by the former Mayor Joey Marquez ordained the expropriation of the vacant lot owned by Molave Corp.”
While the dialogue was ongoing, around a thousand urban poor assembled at the former vacant lot turned makeshift community in solidarity with those who had occupied the disputed land. The urban poor assembly was convened by AMP and PM with chapters from Cavite, Las Pinas and Paranaque in attendance.
“Justice delayed is justice denied. Eight years of heat and rain is much too long waiting for people without roofs over their heads. That is the reason why the homeless were forced to occupy the vacant lot,” argued Olbina.
Casuy added that “Today we are honoring our pledge to dialogue and negotiate with the government for a peaceful resolution of the issue. But tomorrow we are ready to defend our homes against any attempt at demolition. The least the government can do in a time of crisis is not to demolish the houses of the poor and destroy their livelihood.”
On the eve of Heroes Day the homeless started building makeshift houses in a direct occupation of the 1.2 hectare lot owned by the Molave Corp. which is one the biggest lots in Merville. It sits right beside a recently built condominium and supermarket by the Gokongweis, and is just a stone’s throw away from the SM mall in Bicutan. Most of the urban poor who direct occupied the vacant lot came from the Tucuma Federation who originally petitioned for the expropriation of the land. Others were victims of a violent demolition that happened November 30, 2005 in the nearby Cul-de-sac area on the instigation of Tony Leviste who the people alleged only illegally acquired the disputed land.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
November 30, 2008
Alyansa ng Maralitang Pilipino
Starting last night some 500 homeless in the city of Paranaque started building makeshift houses in a direct occupation of a vacant prime lot in the Merville area. Eduardo Casuy, a leader of the Alyansa ng Maralitang Pilipino-Paranaque chapter said that “We appeal for understanding from our fellow Filipinos for we have been without homes for years already and yet this lot remains unoccupied simply because it is private property. Private property cannot be a higher value than the right of the poor to have a home.”
The 1.2 hectare lot owned by the Molave Corp. is one the biggest lots in Merville. It sits right beside a recently built condominium and supermarket by the Gokongweis, and is just a stone’s throw away from the SM mall in Bicutan.
“Our struggle is no different from the Sumilao farmers who have remained landless for years despite being beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. A city ordinance expropriating this unoccupied land has remained inutile since 2000 when it was signed by the former Mayor Joey Marquez. Thus we are forced to implement it ourselves rather than remain homeless,” argued Tita Candelario of the Tucuma Federation in Paranaque.
Most of the urban poor who direct occupied the vacant lot came from the Tucuma Federation who originally petitioned for the expropriation of the land. Others were victims of a violent demolition that happened November 30, 2005 in the nearby Cul-de-sac area on the instigation of Tony Leviste who the people alleged only illegally acquired the disputed land.
Renato Magtubo of the Partido ng Manggagawa called on the national and local government to desist from forcibly evicting the people from the land and thereby provoking a bloody confrontation. “The least the government can do in a time of crisis is not to demolish the homes of the poor and destroy their livelihood,” he averred.
The leaders of the homeless declared that they do not want any violence to occur but the people are also ready to defend their newly-built houses. They announced that they are open to dialogue and negotiate with both the government and the landowner for a peaceful resolution of the issue.
In the meantime, Casuy stated that “This is the best Heroes Day commemoration for us. The nation celebrates Bonifacio for his cry of Balintawak that culminated in Philippine independence. We only ask that the government heed too the cry of the homeless for independence from poverty and injustice.”
November 30, 2008
After the business-led rally last Friday against amending the constitution to extend the term of President Gloria Arroyo, today it was the turn of labor to voice its opposition. “Pro-GMA solons say the people have no need to worry since the chacha resolutions are just meant to test the law. But the truth is they are also testing the waters to see if the people will erupt in rage against a blatant attempt to prolong the GMA regime,” declared Renato Magtubo, chairperson of Partido ng Manggagawa (PM).
Various labor groups including PM commemorated Heroes Day by convening a forum to tackle the workers’ position on the unfolding economic and political crisis. The workers then joined a rally at the Balintawak monument together with several vocal bishops to express their common stand against charter change.
“There is no more fitting way to celebrate Bonifacio Day than for the workers to continue his struggle by confronting the economic and political crisis of the nation. The other day it was the patricians who voiced out their position. Today it is the turn of the plebeians to express not their opposition to charter change but also their call for system change. The working class with march side-by-side with the middle forces against term extension while raising our own banner for radical reform,” explained Magtubo.
The Labor Alliance for Better Order and Reforms (LABOR) sponsored the forum at the San Roque Parish of Bishop Iniquez of Caloocan that was attended by more than 300 leaders of PM, Uni-PLC, National Confederation of Labor, Alyansa ng Maralitang Pilipino, Zone One Tondo Organization, Samahang Nagkakaisa ng Cavite, United Cavite Workers Association, and big unions like the Fortune Tobacco Labor Union, Philippine Airlines Employees Association, and unions from Valenzuela City. The theme of the forum was “Fight for jobs and livehood, Fight against GMA’s chacha.” After the forum, several hundred participants marched from the San Roque Parish to the Balintawak monument for the rally sponsored by Kilusang Makabansang Ekonomiya.
Magtubo explained that “Upsizing GMA’s term is just as deleterious to the nation as the downsizing experienced by the workers in the export zones. GMA is one aspect of the nation’s problem while globalization is the other face. It is not just the corrupt GMA regime but also the crisis of globalization that we must resolve and the only solution is system change.”
PM chapters in the provinces held similar activities. Around 1,000 industrial and hacienda workers marched in Bacolod City around the Fountain of Justice in the afternoon. Meanwhile labor fora were held in the cities of Cebu and Davao.
Magtubo also stated that the mass actions today is only the start of labor’s involvement in the anti-chacha movement in parallel to their campaign for a bailout of the workers and the poor in the face of the economic recession. PM is proposing a subsidy for workers who will be laid off due to the crisis; tax breaks for all employees as a form of economic stimulus; and a thoroughgoing reform of the public employment program so that the millions of unemployed Filipinos can get jobs.
“Congress should investigate the impact of the economic recession on the workers instead of fomenting a political crisis by pushing for con-ass and term extension,” insisted Magtubo. PM has formally petitioned the Senate and House Labor Committees to a congressional inquiry of the effects of the global crisis on workers.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
November 23, 2008
A group of Filipino migrant teachers in Louisiana, US is battling their illegal recruiter and is organizing for the redress of their grievances using the blog as a tool. In early November, the “Concerned Filipino Migrant Teachers of Louisiana, USA” have been using what they called the Pinoy Teachers Hub (www.pinoyteachershub.blogspot.com) as a venue for discussion of their plight.
The teachers are accusing their recruitment agency, among others, of overcharging of placement fees and the premature collection of the same which is tantamount to illegal recruitment and a violation of Republic Act 8042 or the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995.
At least 200 teachers were placed through the agency and deployed in five different school districts in Louisiana but the bulk of them are in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System. They were issued a 1-year working visa (H1B) instead of the usual 3-year H1B visa.
Their recruitment agency is the PARS International Placement Agency with a Philippine address at J&F Divino Arcade, 961 Aurora Boulevard, Suite 407, Quezon City and the US-based Universal Placement International of 3345 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 407, Los Angeles, California. These two entities are owned and operated by one family. A certain Lourdes V. Navarro is the owner of Universal while is Emilio V. Villarba is the agent of PARS.
In the information provided on the blog, Section 1.A.3 of the teachers’ contract stipulates that 10% monthly gross for 2 years shall be paid to agency. However, the teachers paid upfront in advance 20% of “expected” gross income for 1 year. Further, “expected” gross income is bloated so as to make teachers pay the maximum advance payment.
A check with the POEA (Philippine Overseas Employment Agency) website last September showed that the license of PARS has been suspended but the suspension was recently lifted.
The teachers allege that Navarro has threatened to sue those who voice their opinions and share their bad experiences in the blog. But according to a Partido ng Manggagawa liaison officer in the US, the teachers are standing their ground despite the intimidation and are coordinating with their group for the filing of cases.
The teachers are also claiming that their contracts were signed and its contents disclosed to them only several days or even a day before their scheduled flight. Also the teachers are practically in debt bondage since they were forced to take out loans to pay the $8,000 to $10,000 placement fees. The placement agency referred the teachers to its own partner lending agency that charged an onerous 4% per month in interest.
The agency also entered into lease agreements without the knowledge and consent of teachers. The teachers forced to live in dilapidated, pest-infested apartment units in Baton Rouge chosen by agency despite the presence of better, safer, cleaner and cheaper apartments around the area. Moreover the published rent of a unit is only around $800 a month but teachers are charged $310 each with each apartment unit housing 4 individuals and at times up to 8.
In their blog, the teachers contend that the threat of the non-renewal of their contract for the second year has obliged many to endure the indignities and hardship at the hands of their illegal recruiter.
There are also a lot of cases where teachers arrived in Louisiana only to discover that they do no have any school assignments but instead had to attend job fairs for placement. According to the PM liaison officer in the US, in Baton Rouge alone there are at least 6 teachers who arrived and went without work for more than a month, and at least one teacher is up to now unemployed.
The PM liaison officer also revealed that a common practice of the agency is to transfer the teachers assigned to a specific school to another school in a different district. The teachers are forced to agree to the transfer than to wait indefinitely for a placement despite the fact that it is illegal since the specific school district assignment is indicated on the teachers’ visa. In one specific instance, 7 teachers from the East Baton Rouge school district were transferred to the Avoyelles school district where salary levels are much lower.
The teachers also assert that the agency, without any authorization, unlawfully opened their US social security numbers. Research conducted by the PM liaison officer showed that Navarro has a history of fraud conviction and identity theft cases in the State of California.
To add to the abuse, agency prohibits the teachers from petitioning family members using other agencies or through other means. Teachers were also required to sign a waiver in the Philippines no to bring families within the period of one year.
In their blog, the teachers however have declared an initial victory claiming that from $310 per individual per month, they were able to force Navarro to lower their rent to $275. And from $1800 to $2000 per individual, that they were able to lower the renewal fee to $1000. ###
Friday, November 21, 2008
The shallow basis for such declarations from the government is supposedly the fact that most of Philippine exports are being sent to China rather than the US. But China is just a transit point or a gigantic department in the assembly line that spans the globe. Thus exports to China will simply be assembled there and then ultimately sent to the US, Japan or Europe as finished products. Such is the international division of labor under the era of globalization.
Now here’s the rub. Japan just recently admitted that it is in recession. It is now officially in the same rickety boat as Germany and Italy, or for that matter most of the European Union countries. Despite the Bush government still being in denial about a recession, there are already some pundits in the US that are talking about the prospect of a depression.
The fact that US and Japan, the two biggest economies in the world and the final market for most exports, are in recession spells double trouble for the Philippines. In addition, US, Japan and Europe are the destination for a significant section of the nine million overseas Filipinos and the source for a large part of their $14 billion yearly remittances through official channels. Therefore Filipino migrants and their precious dollars, yens and euros are in clear and present danger when the recession extends and deepens. There is no doubt about the fact that migrant workers will be the most vulnerable when layoffs and closures hit their host countries.
While it may take some time for the howling winds of the so-called perfect economic storm to hit the shores of the Philippines, the initial impact is already being felt in the export-oriented factories whose clients are in the US, Japan and Europe. Reductions in the workforce and workdays are being implemented in the export zones and industrial estates in proportion to the reduction of orders from abroad. The permanent closures, temporary shutdowns and work rotation have happened in the last three months. And they have affected not just hundreds but thousands of garments, electronics and furniture workers in these industrial areas. These retrenchments and rotations are the herald of the grave unemployment that will result when the global recession reaches maturity and fully impacts the Philippines.
Myths about the crisis should be cleared up so that its real roots can be examined. The popular explanations peddled by the mainstream media and government officials in the US is that the crisis is simply due to the corruption, excess and greed of the investors, brokers and speculators of Wall Street.
It would be hard to accept as gospel truth such conventional opinion in the US. Just before the undeniable meltdown in the financial markets and the rapid descent to an economic recession, the American government officials and mainstream media were saying that the economic fundamentals are sound and that the problems are manageable. Yet we have to understand that such errors and hubris are not borne out of stupidity but of hypocrisy, for such well-told lies serve the purpose of conditioning the minds of the American people, especially workers.
It is indeed true that good old capitalist greed played its part in the disaster on Wall Street. Still corruption, excess and avarice are all in the nature of capitalism since the motor of this system is intense competition and the race for profit. It is simply business as usual for capitalists to covet the most profit in the shortest time. And yet it is not everyday or every year that capitalism falls into a historic crisis. Therefore the roots of the crisis go beyond capitalist greed.
Practically everyone agrees that the immediate cause of the present problem lies in the subprime housing loan failure. It has been more than a year since the subprime housing crisis erupted with millions of ordinary Americans having risky credit ratings duly failing on their amortizations.
The crisis exploded with the number of homeowners unable to pay amortizations reaching a critical mass. This September, four million Americans, about 10% of the total, were either very late in their payments or were having their homes repossessed. Thus Freddie Mac and Fannie May, the two main mortgage companies in the US, were in the red by $3.1 billion just for the three months from April to June.
The fact that several millions of working class American families could not afford to shell out money for their monthly home amortizations is already a sign of the contradiction that ultimately lies behind the economic crisis in the US. The wages and income of the ordinary American family cannot keep up with the escalating costs of living, including home payments. And this is all due to the changes wrought by globalization—the wave of retrenchments and layoffs, the temporary and part-time nature of jobs, the continuous decline in real wages and the dismantling of the social wage and welfare for the poor. The discrepancy between the nominal wage and the cost of living reflects in the oversupply of housing compared to the capacity to pay of the people. The crisis of overproduction (oversupply of commodities vis-à-vis effective demand for it) is an essential characteristic of capitalism. And it is clearly illustrated in the sector of housing for the working class.
Deregulation and financialization
The quantum leap from a problem in just one line of industry (in this case the subprime housing sector) to a crisis of the whole of the economy is due directly and entirely to the deregulation and financialization that has become defining features of the era of globalization. The mortgage companies sold their mountains of mortgage papers to the banks. The banks in turn resold these subprime mortgage papers (repackaged as securities called collateralized debt obligations or CDO’s) to so-called institutional investors such as other banks, investment houses and pension funds.
The complicated and repeated selling of these papers, and the invention of different financial instruments called derivatives, and even the exotic credit default swaps, is the way for financial institutions to make profit out of the money capital of investors. In the world of finance capital, profit is magically squeezed out from paper, even debt papers of risky debtors.
Here we can see an element of the so-called excess and corruption. Though lacking the capability to pay, ordinary Americans were enticed by various gimmicks (like the floating interest rate) to take out risky loans.
Still it is important to understand that this is not just the dishonesty of some individuals but the irresponsibility of the system itself. In a situation where so much of the wealth in the US and the world is in the form of finance capital that seeks big returns in the quickest time, it becomes entirely natural even logical for investors to grab the opportunity of a “get rich quick scheme” in the subprime housing sector, and the buying and selling of CDO’s and other financial instruments.
It is in this way that the subprime housing sector is connected to the world of finance capital. That is why the moment millions of high-risk Americans defaulted on their mortgages, the biggest commercial and investment banks, and even insurance companies, were suddenly left holding toxic debts and tons of debt papers that had no way of being paid.
The problem is similar to, though not exactly the same as, the Asian financial crisis of 1997. It is no different since it is due to speculation by finance capital. In the years before 1997, finance capital flooded the stock exchanges and real estate markets of the so-called emerging countries of Asia, including the Philippines. But the underlying economic problems cannot be hidden, especially from speculators, and when the time of reckoning came, finance capital withdrew in a flash and thus the stock markets and exchange rates collapsed like a house of cards. In the present case, finance capital descended upon the subprime housing sector and the business of trading CDO’s until the new bubble burst in due time.
There is no more apt word to describe the modus operandi of finance capital than speculation. “Profit” from speculation does not arise from the creation of new wealth and new value as in the case of production of commodities.
New wealth or value is generated in society only through the investment of money capital in the world of production, and the creation of products after the expenditure of labor power. Profit is extracted from the unpaid labor of workers and is then realized after the sale of the commodities.
Speculation by finance capital is however as different as heaven is from earth. “Profit” is fashioned not through the exploitation of workers but through trading in the stock exchanges, real estate, mortgage papers, futures market or other financial instruments. In the world of speculation, money miraculously generates “profit” from money without the mediation of the process of production. In essence, this is no different from gambling.
So on the one hand, there is the real economy where new wealth is created from the application of labor power to produce goods and services. On the other hand, there is the casino economy of finance capital where speculation is the mode of operation. With capitalism entering the stage of financialization, the shadow of speculation is not far behind.
Speculation is the illegitimate child of the deregulated world of finance capital. Finance capital rushes into a mania of investing in the popular business of the day where there is an expectation of high profits. Prices and profits thereby artificially inflate as long as investments keep pouring in. At the start the bubble will grow bigger and bigger seemingly as if the sky is the limit. But the bubble will burse the moment it becomes clear that the prospect of high profits is all hot air. All speculative ventures or bubbles can only end in a crash since no new wealth is created in this world. But like an addict that cannot kick the habit, finance capital will just move on to the next mania of the moment.
The crucial question is why such a significant part of the wealth of the US and the world is tied up as speculative investments? Why is this money capital not invested in the production of goods and services, in the creation of jobs in the light of massive unemployment? Or why is it not invested in agricultural production, in the farming of land in the light of the food crisis besetting the world? In answering this question, we can arrive at the roots of the present crisis.
Capitalists would rather put in their money capital in the mania of speculation instead of the world of production since the rate of profit is greater. It is in the nature of capital that it seeks the level where the rate of profit is higher, just like water seeking the lowest point due to the pull of gravity. It does not matter to capitalists whether it is speculation or production. The important thing is profit, and the bigger the profit in the shorter amount of time, the better.
Crisis of overproduction
Yet why is it that the rate of profit is greater in speculation rather than production given that new wealth in created only in the making of commodities? Thus opens up the secret of the innate contradictions of capitalism. If there is a glut in a certain sector of the market then profit is difficult to realize. The rate of profit falls and capitalists are obliged to shift their money capital to other lines or industries. But if the glut permeates all industries, if the crisis of overproduction is generalized, then the prospect of a bigger rate of return in the world of speculation and its mania of bubbles beckons the capitalists.
In the age of globalization, two factors come together to explain this situation. First, the innate tendency to overproduction has been exacerbated by the cheapening of wages in combination with a gigantic increase in the productivity of labor in the era of globalization. Surplus commodities clog the markets as people do not have the capacity to buy since their wages come up short and many do not have work. The crisis of overproduction is worldwide in scale as the epidemic of wage cheapening, work flexibilization, factory closures, job retrenchments, union busting, cutback in social spending, regressive taxation and other policies accompanying globalization are being implemented across the board and across all borders.
The great inequality of wealth in the US is a key link in explaining overproduction. The productivity of the American worker rose by 60% since 1979 but the wage of male workers fell by 5% over the same period. Some 33 million, one out of every four US worker, live below the poverty line. From 2000 to 2007, the number of poor in the US jumped by 15% or 5.4 million. In the same span of time, wages were frozen but profits leaped by 13% every year. The share of profit in the national wealth is at its peak in the US for the past 64 years while the share of salaries is at its lowest since 1929.
The leap in productivity is expressed in the flood of products and services. Yet the expansion of markets is hindered by the lack of effective demand. The crisis of overproduction is at the root of the recession in the US and global economy.
The reason the crisis exploded only now is that for a time the extension of consumer credit delayed the onset and attenuated the gravity of the problem. As a result millions of Americans are buried in credit card debt or have taken out second mortgages on their houses. One in every four American spends 40% of their monthly income just to pay their debts. The personal savings rate of Americans went negative in 2005 for the first time since the Great Depression of the 1930’s.
The “comfortable” lifestyle of the US worker was sustained only by accumulating debt. In truth, the American dream was only a myth and the middle class status of the working class was only an illusion. Only by extending consumer credit was the US able to extend the economic boom and delay the inevitable crash. Yet delaying the onset of the crisis only meant a more severe crash when the hour of reckoning came. The mountain of consumer debt could not remain unpaid without destabilizing both the real economy and the financial markets.
Second, the crisis of overproduction squeezed the rate of profit and led capitalists to make a detour from the world of production to the mania of speculation. The deregulation of financial markets in the period of globalization aggravated the crisis. The lifting of controls and supervision by the government over the movement of finance capital led directly to the excess and insanity of investors, brokers and speculators in Wall Street. Exotic financial instruments were invented, and then sold and resold all for the purpose of squeezing more “profit” from “paper.”
By the time millions of Americans defaulted on their mortgages and the subprime housing bubble exploded, the madness of finance capital was exposed for all to see. The biggest commercial and investments banks in the US and in the world, together with other financial institutions like insurance companies, were left holding bundles of worthless papers. In an instant, billions of dollars worth of financial papers evaporated.
Punishing the innocent
In short, finance capital lost in a high-risk gamble. But on the argument that they are too large to go under, they are being bailed out by the US and other OECD governments. And ultimately it will be the mass of workers who will foot the bill of saving the finance capitalists. It will be the taxes of autoworkers, teachers and janitors who will rescue the bankers, investors and brokers.
In the US, the $700 billion fund reserved as bailout, in addition to the more than $100 billion already spent to rescue some financial companies, will eventually come from the pockets of the workers. Thus while capitalist profit remains private, the business losses are socialized.
Imagine Joe the plumber handing over his hard-earned tax dollars to the CEO of AIG on the premise that the investors, speculators and bankers are too big to fail. When a worker loses his daily pay betting on lottery, he cannot ask for food stamps from the state, especially with the dismantling of the welfare system. But now governments are handing out corporate welfare to the rogues whose excess and greed are the immediate cause of the financial meltdown.
The crisis that is ultimately rooted in the contradiction of overproduction has led to the mania of speculation by finance capital. And the bursting of the finance bubble is now on a blowback to the world of production. The extensive and deep losses by the finance capitalists has now made them misers and reluctant to extend loans to industrial capitalists lest they bleed even more. Industrial capitalists are squeezed by the credit crunch precisely at the time that they need the lifeline of commercial credit with profit realization hindered by glutted markets.
Permanent closures, temporary shutdowns, work rotation and cost cutting will be the coping measures of industrial capitalists. Retrenchments, layoffs, wage cuts, reduced work hours and informalization of jobs for the workers will be the inevitable result.
Therefore the workers and the poor will be made to bear the burden of resolving the crisis that is not of their own making. The innocent masses are being punished for the crimes of a few.
The working class all over the world will be asked by the ruling classes to sacrifice for the sake of the nation. The workers and the poor must not buy into this cheap sales talk. Workers are the last to benefit from an economic boom but now they are the first to be sacrificed in the midst of a global recession.
The workers must fight for its independent demands and its own class interests. The unprecedented crisis that capitalism is passing through is also a historic opportunity for the workers to advance its immediate and ultimate agenda.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
November 19, 2008
The Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) today formally asked Congress to initiate a legislative inquiry into the effects of the ongoing global recession on the workers as reports pile up on job layoffs and work rotation in export-oriented factories. “The recession in the US and Japan, the two biggest economies in the world and the main market for our exports, spells double trouble for the Philippines,” averred Renato Magtubo, PM chairperson.
In separate letters to Sen. Jinggoy Estrada and Rep. Magtanggol Gunigundo, chairpersons of the Senate and House Labor Committtees respectively, PM asked for an investigation “for the purpose of enacting legislation that will assist workers in coping with the economic downturn.”
In its appeal the labor group also asked the Labor Committees to invite representatives of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Philippine Export Processing Zone Authority (PEZA) to the hearings. “Congress must compel the DOLE and PEZA to disclose data about permanent closures, temporary shutdowns and work rotations that has happened in the last three months,” Magtubo argued.
PM has complained that its local leaders were given the runaround by the DOLE Region IV-A and Region VII offices when they requested for data on the impact of the crisis on workers.
Magtubo added that “While it may take some time for the howling winds of the perfect economic storm to hit the shores of the Philippines, the initial impact is already being felt in the factories whose clients are in the US, Japan and Europe—all in recession. The three are also the destination for a significant section of the nine million overseas Filipinos and the source for a large part of their $14 billion yearly remittances through official channels.”
The group also suggested to the Labor Committees to table for deliberation its proposals for a subsidy for workers who will be laid off due to the crisis, for tax breaks for all employees as a form of economic stimulus, and for a thoroughgoing reform of the public employment program so that the millions of unemployed Filipinos can get jobs.
Magtubo announced that “We intend to cooperate fully with the Senate and House Labor Committees. If they need our assistance, we will help them in identifying export zone workers who have fallen victim to job loss or reduction of workdays.”
Saturday, November 15, 2008
15 November 2008
Relegating the world’s future to the hands of same leaders who created the current global economic crisis is a recipe to further disaster, according to Partido ng Manggagawa, a militant labor party in the country which joined hundreds of other protesters in a march to the US embassy this morning in time for the G20 Summit in Washington DC.
Partido ng Manggagawa chair, Renato Magtubo, said today’s summit by the G8 + 12, an elite club of the world’s richest economies, to formulate strategy to fight the current global economic crisis, “will, to borrow from Barack Obama’s famous line against John McCain, ‘only produce more of the same.’”
“Since this is just another summit of free traders and free marketeers, workers expect no relief from this kind of meeting whose main agenda is to save corporate America and Europe and not Joe the plumber and Juana Manggagawa,” said Magtubo, a veteran trade union leader and former party-list representative.
Magtubo pointed out that for this summit to be relevant to those who really create the world’s wealth—the working class—G20 leaders must renounce neoliberal economics and proclaim a new public policy on redistributing wealth. “Without it, the summit will be a mere talking shop,” the labor leader said.
The labor leader explained that despite the current economic turmoil, the world’s wealth is still more than enough to feed, house, clothe, educate, and care for the needs of some six billion people.
“The world’s productive capacity is so vast it can produce in abundance all the goods and services needed by the world’s people. The only problem is that the world’s wealth is in the hands of a few people, who in the past decades invested their surpluses in casino capitalism and not in the real economy,” added Magtubo.
Magtubo stressed further that the summit was made more anomalous when G20 made it a super exclusive meeting as if these 20 heads of states hold the key to the salvation of six billion people.
“They will talk about bailouts that make financial sharks happy but not the poor people whom they have driven deep down the world of indebtedness. They will provide a stimulus package to resurrect the dead stock markets but not the real economy that provides jobs to billions of people,” said Magtubo.
Citing massive job loss in the US and in Europe and which is also happening now in the country’s export processing zones, Magtubo said a separate world summit of trade unions and labor leaders is more appropriate in working out a strategy for saving the people and the planet from the cruelty of the capitalist system. ###
Friday, November 14, 2008
November 14, 2008
The militant Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) called on the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to release its data on recent permanent closures, temporary shutdowns and work rotations, and appealed to Congress to initiate an investigation on the effects of the economic crisis on the workers and compel the DOLE to publish its records on the matter.
The demand for transparency from DOLE came in as reports of lay offs of thousands of workers filter in from export processing zones. “The export processing zone (EPZ) in Rosario, Cavite, just like the export processing zone in Mactan, Cebu is reeling from the consequences of the recession in the US and the world. We know of at least four firms in the Cavite EPZ that have reduced its workers or its working days since September,” said Dennis Sequenia, secretary-general of PM for Cavite.
Sequenia revealed that the three plants of American Power Conversion, an electronics firm based in the Cavite EPZ with a total workforce of more than 5,000, implemented this November a reduction of its work week from the normal 6 days to just 4 or 5 days.
Renato Magtubo, PM Chairperson, declared that “To be forewarned is to be forearmed. We anchor our demand on the principle of transparency and for the purpose of so-called stakeholders having a firm basis on which to base policy proposals so that workers can cope with the effects of the economic recession.”
Magtubo asserted that just like the case in Region VII, the DOLE-Region IV-A office did not give out any data on permanent closures, temporary shutdowns and work rotations when requested by PM local leaders. “The DOLE should not be surprised if it is accused of a cover up since it is keeping its data from the public’s eye. Or if they have not collected any information at all then they are sleeping on the job,” asserted Magtubo.
Aside from the American Power Conversion, Sequenia also said that the following factories all based in the Cavite EPZ have been affected by reduced orders from the US:
• Daeyoung: laidoff 1,000 workers last September after it merged with Greever, another garments firm which absorbed only 500 of Daeyoung’s workforce
• Daijen: retrenched 400 workers after it was absorbed by Jeonlim, another garments firm, last October
• Headline: reduced work week to just 5 days since October; garments firm with more than 300 work force
Jobert Onte, president of the United Cavite Workers Association that organizes among the export zones and industrial estates of the province, argued that the epidemic of mergers and rotation by garments and electronics firms in the Cavite EPZ are coping mechanisms by capitalists as the huge US export market contracts. He stated that “Workers are the last to benefit from an economic boom but now we are the first to be sacrificed in the midst of a global recession that was sparked by high rollers in the casino capitalism of Wall Street.”
Sequenia also disclosed that the recent reduction in workers and workdays are on top of an earlier wave of closures and rotation by factories in EPZ about six months ago. He cited the cases of Cavite Apparel with a workforce of 600 that reduced its workweek to just 2 days and is offering voluntary retirement for its senior workers, and Ultimate Fashion which closed down and threw its more than 300 employees out of work. The PM chapter in Cavite also received initial reports that a Levi’s subcontractor in the Dasmarinas technopark will have no work for the coming week due to reduced export orders.
“Women are the overwhelming majority of the workers in these garments and electronics factories and most of them are the breadwinners of their families. It is the responsibility of the state to bailout them out in their hour of need,” Onte insisted.
Magtubo, former party-list representative for three terms, called on the Senate and House Labor Committees to open an investigation on the issue for the purpose of formulating measures for legislative and executive action. “The economic calamity demands economic relief. Congress must seriously consider the call for a subsidy for workers who will be laid off due to the crisis, for tax breaks for all employees as a form of economic stimulus, and for a thoroughgoing reform of the public employment program so that the four million unemployed Filipinos can have jobs,” he affirmed.
“No new employment is being created as old jobs are being shed. We have noticed that the job ads in the leading dailies have been reduced to just a few pages in recent weeks. The layoffs in the export-oriented firm of Cebu and Cavite are just the herald of a major unemployment crisis. The worse is yet to come unless we act now to save the workers,” emphasized Magtubo.
November 13, 2008
MANILA, Philippines -- With the global financial crisis threatening to cut jobs in export-oriented industries, the government should look into a "bailout and stimulus package" for workers and the poor, the Partido ng Mangggagawa (PM or Workers' Party) said Thursday.
Greg Janginon, PM chairman for Cebu, said the government must also declare a tax rebate for all workers that would effectively give them the equivalent of two months' salary.
Eddie Jumao-a, secretary of the Neostone union, said the Social Security System, the Government Service Insurance System, and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration should also set aside funds to subsidize for six months private sector workers, government employees and overseas Filipino workers who will be laid off due to the crisis.
He said this would allow them to get back on their feet again, finding another job or setting up their own micro-enterprise.
Unlike the bailout and stimulus package in the United States, which puts money in the hands of the "rich capitalists who engineered the crisis in the first place," PM chairman Renato Magtubo said their proposals would put money in "the hands of the workers and the poor … short of an unemployment insurance."
He explained that doing so is not simply a measure of social justice, but a viable solution to the economic slowdown.
"This would enable the poor and the workers, who comprise the overwhelming majority of consumers, to continue buying necessities and keep the wheels of production going," he said.
The US package, he said, is like "rewarding the criminals."
"If there is a lesson to be learned from the present crisis, it is that it is time to strengthen the real economy and shutdown the casino economy," he added.
Noting that employees of export-oriented industries are starting to be laid off, the former party-list representative is upset that the workers are "being made to bear the brunt of a crisis that is not of their own making."
Magtubo welcomed the labor department's emergency employment program, which facilitates the hiring of workers for short government projects like building repair, and retraining. But he said this is not enough.
"There [were] already millions of unemployed even before the onset of the crisis. With the crisis, the unemployment situation will worsen and a massive public employment program must be established," he said.
"In form it will be similar to the 'patrabaho ng gobyerno' [jobs from government] program the presently exists. But in substance it will be radically different," he added.
For one, Magtubo said, the patronage system must be excised from the public employment program by putting it under the control of people's organizations instead of local politicians.
For another, he said the salaries, benefits, and working conditions should conform to labor standards instead of the present setup where contractual workers do the work for below minimum wages.
Magtubo warned of "labor discontent" if no labor safety net is forthcoming.
"As capitalists pass on the burden of the economic crisis to the workers, the simmering labor discontent will erupt sooner than later erupt into struggles and strikes," he said.
©2008 www.inquirer.net all rights reserved
by Kristine L. Alave
Philippine Daily Inquirer
November 14, 2008
MANILA, Philippines – Export companies in the regions are feeling the pinch of the global recession and women workers are taking the first hit, a labor group said Thursday.
Partido ng Mangagawa (PM) said layoffs have started in the processing zones like those in Cebu province. It noted that seven companies in Cebu have reduced their workforce or working hours, due to the slow demand from the United States and Europe.
Renato Magtubo, PM chairperson, said data from their Cebu members belied Labor Secretary Marianito Roque’s claim that Philippine companies have not retrenched workers due to the financial crisis.
“The Department of Labor is merely looking the other way. Labor Secretary Roque has eyes, but he does not want to see,” he said.
“While government and business nitpick about the difference between a slowdown and a recession, the initial effects of the perfect economic storm are already being felt by workers in the export-processing zones,” he added.
PM labor officials in Mactan Export Processing Zone and nearby industrial estates said thousands of workers, mostly women who work in garment firms, have been affected by the recession.
Most of those displaced were women workers.
Greg Janginon, PM-Cebu chairperson, said 500 workers were displaced when garment firm Altamode temporarily shut down. He said the regional office of the labor department had no clue on Altamode’s temporary closure.
According to PM, the other companies in Cebu that cut down their working hours or number of workers were:
ï Cosonsa Manufacturing Inc., a furniture factory in Mandaue City, that exports to United States, China and Europe. PM said 200 workers were affected when it reduced its working days to four instead of five last October.
ï Arkaine Industries, a furniture factory in Jagobiao, Mandaue City. It shut down last month, displacing 200 employees.
ï Giordini del Sole, a furniture factory in Mandaue City that sells to local and foreign markets, has released a memorandum Thursday cutting down its working days to five from six. About 500 workers will be affected.
ï Paul Yu, a lamp shade factory located in Cebu, is leaving the Mandaue Export Processing Zone (Mepz) II for the town of Carmen. The relocation will affect 200 workers.
ï Maithland Smith, a garments factory in Mepz that laid off 50 workers who were retrenched last October.
ï Neostone, a furniture and stone casting factory in Mandaue City, closed last September, displacing 40 employees.
PM said the government should prepare a package to help the workers who will be jobless because of the recession.
©2008 www.inquirer.net all rights reserved
Thursday, November 13, 2008
November 13, 2008
The militant Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) disputed the declaration of Labor Secretary Marianito Roque that there have been no retrenchments yet due to the global economic crisis. Renato Magtubo, PM Chairperson, said that “The Department of Labor is merely looking the other way. Labor Secretary Roque has eyes but he does not want to see.”
Leaders of PM in Cebu claim that factories in the Mactan Export Processing Zone (MEPZ) and the nearby industrial estates have already started reducing its workforce and its working hours because of reduced orders from the US. Greg Janginon, PM Chairperson for Cebu, argues that thousands not just hundreds of workers, many of them women, have been affected by retrenchments, shutdowns and rotation being implemented by employers.
Janginon asserts that he cannot believe that the Labor Department does not know of the temporary shutdown of Altamode, a big garments factory located at MEPZ. Around 500 workers, majority of whom were women, were thrown out of work in a move that management claims was forced by the economic crisis. Janginon also disclosed that the regional office of DOLE refused to release any data to them about companies affected by the crisis.
“While government and business nitpick about the difference between a slowdown and a recession, the initial effects of the perfect economic storm are already being felt by workers in the export-processing zones,” insists Magtubo. “Instead of the government and business arguing whether a recession or a slowdown will commence next year, we should be discussing the need for a bailout and stimulus package for the workers and the poor to counter-act the economic downturn.”
Aside from the Altamode case, PM revealed the following data:
• Cosonsa Manufacturing Inc.: furniture factory in Mandaue City that exports 30% of its products to the US and the rest to China and Europe; filed at the DOLE-Region VII for rotation; reduced work to 5 days starting October and presently on 4 days of work; 200 workers affected
• Arkaine Industries: furniture factory in Jagobiao, Mandaue City; declared a shutdown last October due to economic crisis; 200 workers affected
• Giordini del Sole: furniture factory in Mandaue City that sells to local and foreign markets; management released a memo yesterday ordering a reduction of work from 6 days to 5 days; more than 500 workers affected
• Paul Yu: factory producing lamp shades for local and export markets; located at MEPZ II; workers believe that diminishing sales and cost cutting are behind management’s plans to relocate the factory and change its name; relocation to Carmen town in the far north of the province is planned for next week; 100 regular workers and 100 contractual workers to be affected
• Maithland Smith: garments factory in MEPZ; 50 workers, majority of whom were women, retrenched last October
• Neostone: furniture and stone casting factory in Mandaue City; filed for 30-days temporary shutdown in August and then closed permanently last September; company claimed lack of capital in its declarations but workers know of reduced orders from the US before the closure; 40 workers affected
“Workers demand that the SSS, GSIS and the OWWA release funds sufficient to subsidize all private sector workers, government employees and OFW’s who will be laid off due to the economic crisis. The subsidy should last until the workers could find a new job up to a maximum of 6 months,” asserted Eddie Jumao-a, secretary of the Neostone union.
Janginon also added that “As part of a stimulus scheme, the government must declare a tax rebate for all workers equivalent to 2 months wage, in effect giving them a 14th and 15th month salary.”
Magtubo meanwhile proclaimed “As capitalists pass on the burden of the economic crisis to the workers, the simmering labor discontent will erupt sooner than later erupt into struggles and strikes.”
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
November 12, 2008
In reaction to the announcement by business leaders of a recession in the coming year, the militant group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) called for a bailout and stimulus package for the workers and the poor to counter-act the economic downturn.
“We should put money in the hands of the workers and the poor not simply as a measure of social justice but as the solution to the economic recession. The consumers, the overwhelming majority of whom are the workers and the poor, should be able to continue buying their necessities and thereby keep the wheels of production rolling,” explained Renato Magtubo, chairperson of PM.
The group clarified that their bailout and stimulus package is different from that implemented in the US which it criticized as a “bailout of the rich capitalists who engineered the crisis in the first place thereby rewarding the criminals and punishing the innocent.” Magtubo argued that “If there is a lesson to be learned from the present crisis, it is that it is time to strengthen the real economy and shutdown the casino economy.”
In particular, PM is calling for the Social Security System (SSS), Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and the Overseas Welfare Administration (OWWA) to set aside funds sufficient to subsidize all private sector workers, government employees and overseas Filipino workers (OFW’s) who will be laid off due to the economic crisis. The subsidy should last until they could find work up to a maximum of 6 months. The group is also demanding that the government must declare a tax rebate for all workers equivalent to 2 months wage, in effect giving them a 14th and 15th month salary.
Magtubo stated that “Big business is forecasting a recession next year but the initial effects of the perfect economic storm is already being felt by workers in the export-processing zones and OFW’s in the Middle East. We know first hand of furniture and garments factories in the export-processing zones of Cavite and Cebu who have reduced workers and hours of work because of reduced orders from the US. The export industry as a whole is collapsing with growth contracting from 6.6 % in August to just 1.2% this September. Workers are being made to bear the brunt of a crisis that is not of their own making.”
“As for the millions who were already unemployed even before the onset of the present crisis, a massive public employment program must be established. In form it will be similar to the ‘patrabaho ng gobyerno’ program the presently exists. But in substance it will be radically different. First, the patronage system must be excised from the public employment program by putting it under the control of people’s organizations instead of local politicians. Second, the salaries, benefits and working conditions should conform to labor standards instead of the present setup where contractual workers do the work for below minimum wages,” asserted Magtubo. ###
(The SSS and GSIS are the state-managed social security institutions for private sector and public sector employees respectively. The OWWA is a similar institution for overseas workers.)