Saturday, December 13, 2008

Solidarity with Republic workers, UE Local 1110

December 12, 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,

Renato Magtubo
Chairperson, Partido ng Manggagawa
President, Fortune Tobacco Labor Union

Gerry Rivera
Vice-Chairperson, Partido ng Manggagawa
President, Philippine Airlines Employees Association


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