Monday, November 30, 2009

Labor party wants national debate on policies rather than costly pol ads dominate election fever

November 30, 2009

A national debate on policy matters is what could make this coming national and local elections more interesting and relevant than the usual play of expensive political ads dominating the national scene prior to the 2010 elections.

This was according to the labor party-list group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), which today commemorated Bonifacio Day with marches and rallies calling for the reversal of anti-labor and anti-poor economic policies. The workers’ demonstrations in many parts of the country were also held on the eve of the deadline for the filing of certificates of candidacies for national and local candidates.

PM chair Renato Magtubo, said that with the persistence and the deepening of the global economic crisis coupled with the rise of environmental problems, the need for new ideas and the review or throwing away of the usual solutions to age-old problems are the most relevant matters that the people would desire during the election season and beyond.

“Let this coming elections become a national debate. Those who favour the preservation of liberalization, deregulation and privatization program should come ready to defend these against those who advocate for the reversal of those policies. In this kind of a scenario candidates from the opposing camps may win or lose after the elections, but the voters win by gaining higher political consciousness,” said Magtubo.

The labor leader argued that the cinematic play of political ads may boost the image of a politician but if this remains personality-oriented, this will blunt the content of the whole electoral exercise.

Zapote-Mendiola march

PM led a contingent of some 600 workers and urban poor who marched from Zapote in Las Pinas all the way to the historic Mendiola Bridge. The marchers made a short stop over at the Baclaran Church to meet with other contingents from the southern, eastern and northern part of Metro Manila. They also held a short program and candle-lighting at the Department of Justice building to demand justice for the victims of the Maguindanao massacre.

The PM contingent later merged with other labor groups under the KONTRA WTO at the Mehan Garden in a march towards Mendiola. The labor groups are calling for the reversal of liberalization, deregulation and privatization policies.

“These policies led to the country’s chronic state of underdevelopment, promoted the contractualization and casualization of labor, and created a huge army of unemployed, informal and impoverished people," concludes Magtubo.

PM has also been calling for a bailout package for the workers and the poor in the midst of the global economic crisis and a new housing program that addresses the urgent need for decent shelter of millions of homeless Filipinos.

Labor party denies support for Ebdane

Press Release
November 28, 2009

The labor party-list group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) denied supporting the presidential candidacy of Hermogene Ebdane as alleged by news in a tabloid.

“We do support an ex-general, but not Hermogenes Ebdane. We have endorsed Danny Lim who has track record of fighting for social change. We know Lim is a determined militant for reforms to benefit the people and the workers,” explained Renato Magtubo, PM chairperson.

The group asserted that they have not released a statement nor has any PM leader declared support for Ebdane. PM insisted that other than the detained Danny Lim, they have not endorsed any candidate yet.

The group maintained that they do not know who is behind the distorted news but they are asking Ebdane to investigate whom in his campaign headquarters or PR group concocted the idea.

PM also clarified that they are open to endorsing candidates in the coming elections but they not made any decision yet to support a presidentiable. “What is definite is that PM will participate in the party-list elections so that the working class will have a voice and vanguard in parliament,” Magtubo remarked. Yesterday PM submitted to the Comelec its “manifestation to participate in the party-list elections” after Magtubo and other PM leaders accompanied Lim in filing his own “certificate of candidacy for senator.”

Friday, November 27, 2009

PM files intent to run for party-list, endorses senate bid of Gen. Danny Lim

Press Release
November 27, 2009

The labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) formally files its intent to participate in the party-list elections before the Commission on Elections this morning in a bid to regain its place as the consistently independent working class voice in Congress.

According to PM Chair Renato Magtubo, his party’s proclaimed mission of defending workers’ rights and advancing their struggles for better living conditions and broader political rights, is both an “unfinished battle” and a “pressing agenda” amidst the persisting global economic crisis where so much in the world of work are at stake.

“Today’s crises call not for the usual prescription but a thorough overhaul of our economic fundamentals, and therefore the need for a new breed of representatives who will fearlessly pursue pro-poor policy changes,” said Magtubo.

The first union president to become a party-list representative, Magtubo and the PM served the 11th, 12th and 13th Congress with a record of tirelessly pushing for the enactment of the living wage and other bills on legislated wage increase, and the amendments to the Labor Code to strengthen workers’ fundamental rights to organize, collectively bargain and to strike.

Support for Lim

PM also used the occasion of its filing to announce its support to the senatorial bid of Brig. Gen. Danny Lim.

Magtubo and his followers joined Lim first in the latter’s filing of his Certificate of Candidacy before proceeding to the filing of PM’s manifestation to participate in the party-list election.

“Gen. Danny Lim deserves due recognition not only for being an outstanding officer of the armed forces but also for being an icon of incorruptible and principled fighters among our workingmen in uniform,” explained Magtubo.

The group said they will also campaign for other candidates who will come out with solid platforms for labor and the poor.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Labor party welcomes suspension order against teacher recruiter

22 November 2009

The labor partylist group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) welcomes the issuance by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) of a preventive suspension against the recruitment agencies accused by local and US-based Filipino teachers of defrauding and exploiting them.

In an order dated November 19, 2009, the POEA by motu propio suspended the operation of PARS International Placement Agency and Universal Placement International, recruitment agencies which had been the subject of several complaints by many teachers both here and in the US. The suspension order is for POEA Cases No. RV 09-10-2258 / DAE 09-10-1873/ RV 09-11-2373 / DAE 09-11-1932 lodged by several teachers against the two agencies.

The two agencies have been accused of over-charging their clients of placement and other fees and contract violations, among others.

The Quezon City-based PARS is owned by Emilio V. Villarba while the Los Angeles based UPI is owned by a certain Lourdes Navarro. These two entities, according to the case profile prepared by Louisiana-based Filipino teachers and the liaison officer of Partido ng Manggagawa in the US, are owned and operated by one family. Villarba and Navarro are siblings. The former is in charged with the recruitment in Philippines.

The suspension order came on the same day two more Louisiana-based Filipino teachers, Mairi Tanedo and Geralyn Bacus, filed their formal complaints against the agency at the POEA. Tanedo and Bacus were both deployed for a one year contract at the East Baton Rouge Parish School System in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Some 250 teachers were deployed through these placement agencies in Louisiana alone.

“We view this as partial victory for our teachers, but sweet victory no less. And this was made possible with the courage and solid determination by our teachers to exact justice from crooked but well-connected recruiters,” said PM Secretary General Judy Ann Miranda.

The labor party believes that with the sanctions imposed against the PARS and UPI, more of its victims would surely come forward to pursue their cases.

But according to Tanedo and Bacus, after having talks with some POEA officials, the suspension order can be easily lifted soon after the agencies submit their counter claims. They hope, however, that their separate complaints will cause another suspension. The two teachers said they are also waiting for the notarized copy of some 60 more complaints coming from the US, which they believe could finally nail down these two agencies.

The Partido ng Manggagawa and the Public Services Independent Confederation (PSLINK) are also preparing to lodge their own complaints.

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) also had taken up the campaign for the Filipino teachers by filing separate cases against the UPI before the US Department of Labor for several violations of labor and non-immigrant program laws. (see attached AFT Filing)

Tanedo and Bacus, in coordination with PM and PSLINK, are now organizing the linkages between the US-based teachers and their families here as well as with other teachers who were not able to leave the country but were already defrauded by PARS.

They will hold a press conference together with other victims of PARS in Cebu sometime next week.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

International labor advocates slam sweatshop labor in the Philippines

Press Release
November 18, 2009

Two international labor rights groups slammed the exploitation of sweatshop labor around the world including the Philippines. The International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) released a report yesterday that listed two big American companies in its “Sweatshop Hall of Shame 2010” for using subcontractors based in the Mactan Economic Zone (MEZ) in Lapu-Lapu City that violate fundamental labor rights and standards. Meanwhile the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) celebrated its 20th anniversary by launching a book that chronicles the rise of the anti-sweatshop movement. The CCC has recently worked with the Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) in defending workers in several factories in the MEZ that produce for famous companies like Adidas and Abercrombie and Fitch.

Renato Magtubo, PM chairperson, said “We welcome the critical report of the ILRF and the excellent work of the CCC in support of the struggle of workers in the Philippines and around the world. If only our own Department of Labor and Employment was as vigilant as the ILRF and CCC then there would be less workers suffering from poverty wages and dire working conditions.”

The ILRF is a Washington DC-based advocacy organization dedicated to achieving just and humane treatment for workers worldwide. The ILRF’s Hall of Shame inductees are companies that “are responsible for evading fair labor standards and often are slow to respond or provide no response at all to any attempts by the ILRF and workers to improve working conditions.”

ILRF called on American shoppers to “take the time to ask about labor standards at the factories that produce Abercrombie and Fitch and Hollister clothing.” The demand stemmed from the labor dispute at Alta Mode Inc., an Abercrombie and Fitch contractor, where the union is accusing management of unfair labor practice and interference in the right to organize. The ILRF report states that “Workers have struggled for a union as an antidote to a production quota set beyond human capacity.”

Meanwhile the CCC has national campaigns in 12 European countries with a network of 250 organisations worldwide. The CCC inspired book titled "Clean Clothes" by Dutch writer and photographer Liesbeth Sluiter recounts that “all along the garment industry’s supply chains, workers, including children, are exploited through poverty wages, unpaid overtime and harsh anti-union measures.”

According to the ILRF report, at the Paul Yu factory, a supplier of the US home furnishings retailer Pier 1 Imports, employees were unjustly suspended for forming a workers association and protesting against rampant contractualization. ILRF revealed that it communicated with Pier 1 Imports but the company refused to take any meaningful action. The report relates that “The workers of Paul Yu are a testament to how companies like Pier 1 Imports continuously fail to meet their own corporate social responsibility commitment.”

The copy of the ILRF report can be accessed at Details of the CCC anniversary commemoration and book launching can be confirmed via Below is a copy of the CCC press release.

Anti-sweatshop 'Clean Clothes Campaign' Marks 20 Years
New Book Charts Growth of Global Movement

Nov. 16, 2009 - The worldwide anti-sweatshop Clean Clothes Campaign marks 20 years this month, and coinciding with the anniversary a new book on the movement will be launched on November 18. "Clean Clothes" by Dutch writer and photographer Liesbeth Sluiter takes an independent look at how the campaign has grown from an ad-hoc feminist coalition in Holland to an international labour-rights activist network that put corporate accountability on the fashion industry's agenda.

The campaign, one of the most prominent anti-sweatshop organizations today, aims to improve the wages and conditions of workers in the global garment industry. Large retailers such as Tesco, Walmart and Carrefour lure shoppers in with prices that seem too good to be true. This book shows that they’re too good to be fair.

All along the industry’s supply chains, workers, including children, are exploited through poverty wages, unpaid overtime and harsh anti-union measures. The campaign urges those in charge of the garment industry’s supply lines to protect their workers and treat them fairly.

This dynamic account of direct engagement by concerned consumers is a must read for those that see globalisation differently and want their shopping choices to support the most vulnerable people involved in the clothing industry.

Liesbeth Sluiter is a Dutch freelance photographer and journalist, who has worked for over 25 years with a passionate focus on environment, gender and global development issues. She is the author of The Mekong Currency (1993), published in the UK, the Netherlands, and Japan, and has written numerous articles on development and environmental issues.

The CCC has national campaigns in 12 European countries with a network of 250 organisations worldwide, including development organisations, trade unions, women's organisations, human-rights defenders. In the Philippines the Partido ng Manggagawa works together with the CCC to defend labor rights and welfare in the export zones.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Labor party opposes tax on tiangge, political contributions

06 November 2009

Describing the scheme as anti-poor and oppressive, a labor partylist group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), denounces the plan by Malacañang to impose taxes on tiangge as well as on political contributions for political parties, including partylists.

According to PM Secretary General Judy Ann Miranda, the plan to impose taxes ontiangge operations is a sinister way of shifting the burden of failed revenue collection to the poor. This was after the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) admitted huge shortfall in its revenue target this year and which eventually led to the resignation of BIR Chief Sixto Esquivias IV.

“Instead of making convincing explanations on why the BIR missed its targets, Malacañang is now convincing the tiangge operators to make up for its shortfall. It’s like telling a Baclaran vendor to make up for the members of the PCCI and foreign chambers of commerce,” said Miranda.

“This is besides the fact that their buy-and-sell products have already been subjected to VAT and other taxes,” added Miranda.

Miranda said the scheme is patently anti-poor and oppressive since those who are engaged in tiangge, especially the small ones, belong to the informal sector (own account workers or the self-employed) – a big part of the of the labor force who are without regular work. Ninety nine percent of these workers are engaged in small buy-and-sell business, transport, and personal services, among others. Own account workers account for 12.083 million of the country’s labor force of 35.509 million in the July Labor Force Survey. Aside from that, most of those who render help for own account workers belong to what are called ‘unpaid family workers’, which now count to 3.828 million.

“Clearly, this sector needs support from the State not new forms of oppression through taxation especially in the face of ripping calamities,” stressed Miranda.

Meanwhile, the labor party is also opposed to the 5% tax on political contributions, saying the government should never consider counting revenue out of political exercise.

Miranda pointed out that while election-related businesses such as supplies can be considered taxable incomes, contributions to sectoral parties, like the PM Partylist whose contributions mainly came from ordinary workers, is not.

“A worker’s income have already been taxed before it reaches his hands, why tax it again if he/she contributes part of it for his/her political party?,” protested the group.

PM said Mrs. Arroyo better focus on ensuring good election process rather than generating funds from her rival parties.