Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Solidarity with Pakistani Workers

We congratulate the All Pakistan Trade Union Federation (APTUF) for the successful convening of its National Congress. The Partido ng Manggagawa (Labor Party-Philippines) wishes you all the success and strength in carrying out your struggle for peace, democracy and social justice.

The global capitalist crisis, exacerbated by the global financial crisis that exploded in 2008, has brought enormous burden to the world's working people. While it is true that the deepening capitalist crisis brings with it the prospect of its imminent collapse and therefore the possibility of a system change, the process of building a strong working class movement may require new tactics and perhaps new organizational forms and struggles.This is because the capitalist crisis has also gave rise to de-industrialization which created sections of the working class outside of the formal economy.

In the Philippines, for instance, 70% of our labor force live on precarious conditions and remain unprotected as they are not employed in the formal economy. As in your case, child labor, contractual work arrangements, and worst, the existence of unpaid labor are prevalent in the Philippines.

On the other hand, the global crisis is also taking its heavy toll on workers in industries as corporations resort to downsizing, outsourcing and many forms of contractualization. In fact, we are now in the middle of an intense struggle against the policy of mass layoff and contractualization in the Philippine Airlines as well as in other big companies in the Philippines.

The capitalist crisis, no doubt, has denied the present and the next generation of workers opportunities to have decent jobs and better living conditions. We also live in a hostile environment where senseless wars and violence occur in many parts of the world. Pakistan, we are aware, has become an unwilling victim of America's "war on terror" brought into the "second front." These wars has even become more arbitrary and unilateral as superpowers move without the sanctions of international bodies.

What we have now, inded, is a period of acute capitalist crisis with wars and heigthening exploitation showing their ugly heads. The world's working class is thus faced with the challenge of building a force capable of reversing this historical course. This is the task only the working class can do.

Brothers and sisters, let us not allow this crisis lead the world toward barbarism. The Filipino working class will always be one with you and the world's working people in the struggle for peace, democracy and social justice.

Mabuhay! Long live!

In Solidarity,

Renato Magtubo
Chairperson
Partido ng Manggagawa (Labor Party-Philippines)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

PALEA wish for job security in Mendiola caroling

Press Release
December 23, 2010
PALEA

Some 200 members of the Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) and the anti-contractualization group Kontra went caroling in Mendiola at 10:00 this morning to wish for job security. “We call on PNoy to be a Santa not a Grinch. All we want for Christmas is our regular jobs. We ask PNoy to grant our wish that he reverse the decision of Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz allowing the outsourcing and layoff plan by Philippine Airlines (PAL),” said Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and vice chair of the Partido ng Manggagawa (PM).

A PALEA member was dressed in Santa costume and chanted workers demands as he rang a noisy bell and shouted “Ho ho ho.” The group also brought makeshift Christmas gifts labeled with their demands for regular jobs and against contractualization. They also gave away to passers by lollipops together with PALEA’s appeal.

Aside from supporting PALEA’s call for the reversal of the Baldoz ruling, the coalition Kontra is also pushing for the passage of the consolidated security of tenure bill now pending at House of Representatives. “We appeal to PNoy to certify the security of tenure bill as priority legislation. The security of tenure bill will remedy the worst forms of contractualization schemes employed by capitalists. We call on senators to file a similar bill in the upper house,” explained Rivera.

Meanwhile in a related development, PALEA announced that they are supporting the complaint of the PAL employee who was insulted by a party-list solon. “We stand by our fellow PALEA member in her case against the patent abuse by Rep. Eulogio Magsaysay of Alliance of Volunteer Educators,” Rivera insisted. PAL ground attendant Sarah Bonnin Ocampo had accused Rep. Magsaysay of calling her names when she was not able to accommodate his request for seat transfer.

Judy Ann Miranda, PM secretary-general, insisted that “Magsaysay had no right to verbally abuse and throw sexist remarks at anybody least of all a woman worker just doing her job. We demand that Magsaysay make a public apology.”

PALEA and Kontra announced that next year they will step up the campaign for job security and against labor contractualization. “A happy new year for the workers would mean the scrapping of the mass layoff at PAL and the regulation of contractualization schemes in all workplaces,” argued Rivera.

The two groups revealed that they will be combining mass actions in the parliament of the streets and lobbying in Congress to urge the enactment of the security of tenure proposal. “Workers must prepare for bigger battles, more actions and broader unity next year in order to win the demand for regular jobs,” insisted Rivera.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

PALEA welcomes PNoy’s order to suspend Baldoz ruling

Press Release
December 15, 2010
PALEA

The Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) welcomed the assumption order of President Benigno Aquino III that stayed the decision of Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz allowing the planned outsourcing and layoff at Philippine Airlines (PAL).

“PAL employees will have a merry Christmas since no retrenchment will happen this holiday season. Although it is not yet sure if we will have a happy new year because the suspension of the ruling of Baldoz is only temporary,” stated Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and Partido ng Manggagawa vice chair.

The assumption order from President Aquino arose from a petition for presidential intervention filed by PALEA. “Even as we thank PNoy for the order suspending the mass layoff, this initial victory is possible only because of the militance of PAL employees and the unity of labor groups,” Rivera added.

PALEA filed a petition with the Office of the President (OP) last November 12 but the formal assumption order took more than a month and only after a big labor unity rally at Ayala, Makati last November 25 and the overwhelmingly vote to strike by PAL workers last week.

Rivera insisted that “PALEA calls on its members and its supporters from the labor movement to remain vigilant. We have won a battle but we have not yet won the war. For more than a year already we have stopped PAL from implementing its planned outsourcing. But next year we will wage the mother of all battles to finally defeat PAL’s contractualization scheme.”

Rivera explained that while the planned strike by PALEA has also been stopped by the assumption order from the OP, the legal requirements have been complied with and so it remains an option for the union should the labor dispute remain unresolved.

Meanwhile, Renato Magtubo, PM national chair, also called on President Aquino to certify as urgent legislation the consolidated security of tenure bill that had passed first reading at the House of Representatives. “The precedent has been set that the OP will assume jurisdiction over labor rows and so PNoy now faces the possibility of dozens of unions asking for presidential intervention if no strategic solution to contractualization is forged. The security of tenure bill is a remedial measure, although not a lasting solution, that can curb the wanton proliferation of contractualization schemes and scams by capitalists,” he asserted. PM and PALEA are both pushing for the passage of the security of tenure bill.

Friday, December 10, 2010

86% of PALEA members favor strike

Press Release
December 10, 2010
PALEA

The Philippine Airline Employees’ Association (PALEA) released the final results of the strike vote yesterday afternoon after the union’s comelec finished canvassing the ballots. Some 86% of the total votes cast were in favor of a strike and a substantial majority of the total PALEA membership of 2,600 participated in the strike vote.

“Today is International Human Rights Day and the resounding vote for a strike is a democratic expression of PAL employees’ resolve to fight for their job security. Labor rights are after all human rights. The 86% vote is overwhelmingly given the fact that we had just 24 hours to inform members of thee holding of the strike ballot,” stated Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and Partido ng Manggagawa vice chair.

Rivera explained that the successful strike vote conducted among its members brings the union closer to holding an actual strike. According to the Labor Code, before any legal strike can proceed a notice of strike must be filed and then a strike vote conducted in which a simple majority of members must agree. He added that all that remains now is for PALEA to file the results of the strike vote at the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB), which has jurisdiction of the dispute, and then wait for the lapse of the mandated seven-day notification or cooling off period.

“We understand that a strike at Philippine Airlines (PAL) may inconvenience the public. But we also believe that the vast majority of the public are workers and their families who will benefit from PALEA’s fight for job security and labor rights,” Rivera insisted.

The strike vote was announced to PALEA members last Monday just after a notice was filed at the NCMB. The actual strike vote was conducted the whole day of December 7. The union’s comelec then waited for all the ballot boxes to arrive from the provincial airports before it tabulated the results in PALEA’s office in Paranaque yesterday.

Meanwhile PALEA answered the arguments of the PAL management that the strike vote is illegal since there is no labor dispute pending. “The strike vote stems from the labor dispute docketed as NCMB-NCR NS-11-128-10. That dispute has not been resolved nor been assumed,” Rivera asserted.

He reiterated the clarification that the issue pending at the Office of the President is PAL’s outsourcing plan which has been affirmed by Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz while the strike vote arose from a separate though related complaint of individual bargaining by PAL management which constitutes unfair labor practice and union busting.

Further PALEA welcomed the consolidated security of tenure bill that was approved by the House Labor Committee at a hearing last Wednesday. “There will be many more PALEAs if capitalists are allowed to use the loopholes of the law on subcontracting to bust unions, cheapen wages, worsen working conditions and demolish workers rights,” Rivera ended.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

PM and PALEA welcome security of tenure bill

Press Release
December 9, 2010

The militant Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) welcomed the consolidated security of tenure bill that was approved by the House Labor Committee (LaborCom) at a hearing yesterday at the Batasang Pambansa. “The security of tenure bill is a remedial measure, although not a lasting solution, that can curb the wanton proliferation of contractualization schemes and scams by capitalists,” stated Renato Magtubo, PM chair.

Gerry Rivera, PM vice chair and president of the Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA), spoke at the LaborCom hearing and lobbied for a bill to strengthen job security in the face of labor unrest provoked by rampant outsourcing, subcontracting and casualization moves by employers. “There will be many more PALEAs if capitalists are allowed to use the loopholes of the law on subcontracting to bust unions, cheapen wages, worsen working conditions and demolish workers rights,” he said.

Rivera also announced at the LaborCom hearing that the successful strike vote conducted among its members brings the union closer to holding an actual strike. Nonetheless he also clarified that PALEA will respect the 7-day cooling period once the final results are reported to the National Conciliation and Mediation Board. “We recognize that a strike at Philippine Airlines (PAL) may inconvenience the public. But we also know that the vast majority of the public are workers and their families who will benefit from PALEA’s fight for job security and labor rights,” Rivera insisted.

Rivera also countered PAL and the Labor Department’s positions that the strike vote is illegal since there is no labor dispute pending. “The strike vote stems from the labor dispute docketed as NCMB-NCR NS-11-128-10. That dispute has not been resolved nor been assumed,” he explained.

The consolidated security of tenure bill provides for stricter rules on allowable contracting arrangements, a cap of 20% on the number of contractuals vis-à-vis the total workforce and heavier penalties on violations.

Rivera added that “The fight for job security is now beyond PALEA. The passage of the security of tenure bill will be the focus of the working class movement’s campaign for regular jobs and against labor contractualization.”

Magtubo revealed that they will push the Senate Labor Committee for a counterpart bill even as the House version moves for plenary discussion. “The fight for the security of tenure bill has just started. The House Rules Committee will have to be convinced into putting on the calendar this proposed legislation for the plenary. If necessary the labor movement will mobilize again ala the November 25 rally in Ayala to push Congress along,” he emphasized.

“The new year will be happy for the workers if the security of tenure bill becomes a law. We call on our brothers and sisters in the labor movement to once again set aside differences and unite in the fight for the passage of the security of tenure bill,” Rivera asserted.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

PM calls on Congress to regulate contractualization schemes

Press Release
December 8, 2010

In the wake of the overwhelming vote for a strike by members of the Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA), the militant Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) called on the House Labor Committee (LaborCom) to legislate restrictions on various contractualization schemes that have become widespread business practice. “Congress should read the writing on the wall. Contractualization is worsening the conditions of workers and is provoking labor unrest. It is high time to strictly regulate this pernicious practice that is subverting Constitutionally-guaranteed rights to security of tenure and freedom of self-organization,” stated Renato Magtubo, PM chair.

PALEA members voted decisively in favor of a strike in balloting that started yesterday morning and ended at midnight. The LaborCom held a hearing this afternoon at the Batasang Pambansa on the various pending bills on security of tenure that was attended by labor leaders including officers of PALEA and PM. Later at 6:30 pm hundreds of PM and PALEA members and supporters trooped to the UP Diliman Film Center for the film screening of the indie movie “Endo” about the life of a temporary worker.

PM is advocating that contractual work only be allowed for seasonal work and project-based employment. Magtubo explained that “Contractual employment must be prohibited if the work is already done by regular workers, or in the words of the Labor Code, if the work is necessary and desirable to the business of the company. At present, more and more contractual workers are displacing regular employees and doing the same work but for cheaper wages, less benefits, worse conditions and without the protection of a union. The Philippines is becoming a nation of contractuals.”

“We further call on PNoy to make a policy statement by declaring the security of tenure bills as priority legislation and make a model out of the PAL case by striking a settlement that meets the demands of PALEA for job security,” Magtubo asserted.

“The real aim of outsourcing and subcontracting is not efficiency and productivity. Its hidden agenda is to lessen labor costs and compete on the basis of cheap labor. The ulterior motive of contractualization is go around the protection for workers presently provided in the Labor Code such as the minimum wage, social security, employee benefits, separation pay and the freedom to have a voice and representation in the workplace through a union,” Magtubo argued.

The labor group also opposed the lobby of employers groups calling for more liberal policy on outsourcing and less restriction on termination of workers. Magtubo claimed that “Liberalization of outsourcing, subcontracting and termination will lead to the further oppression and destitution of workers. It will accelerate the race to the bottom in wages and working conditions that contractualization is fostering. Just as an example employers are now turning to manpower agencies masquerading as labor cooperatives in order to pay below minimum wages through the fiction of dividends.”

“Congress is mandated to enact laws that operationalize the mandate of the Constitution. The elegant phrases of the Constitution providing for protection to workers cannot be dead letters through inaction by solons. We ask them to expedite the passage of the pending bills,” Magtubo insisted.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

PALEA strike vote: Large turnout of members, overwhelming yes vote

Press Release
December 7, 2010
PALEA

The partial results of the PALEA strike vote show a large turnout and an overwhelming yes vote. The balloting closed at 5:00 pm for several PAL offices and work places like the outlying stations at 14 provincial cities and the call center reservations at PNB Building in Macapagal Ave. In the call center reservations, there was an 84% turnout with 86% voting yes. In the outlying stations some 80% of the members voted and 80% of them voted yes. Not all the outlying stations however have transmitted the results.

The votes of a majority of PALEA members remain not counted yet as balloting will only end by midnight tonight at the Terminal 2 of the Manila International Airport, the international cargo terminal, the in-flight catering department and the Mactan airport in Cebu. Nonetheless PALEA expects the trend to continue. PALEA also reported that the voting was orderly and peaceful.

The PALEA leadership will decide on its next move after the final results of the strike vote is canvassed.

PALEA strike vote ongoing as union insists on its legality

Press Release
December 7, 2010
PALEA

Some 3,700 members of the Philippines Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) started voting on whether to go on strike at 9:00 am today in the different work sites nationwide. PALEA insisted on the legality and propriety of the strike vote in face of statements from the management of Philippine Airlines (PAL) that it will contest the validity of the action.

“In form the strike vote is simply an exercise of the freedom of speech. We want to gauge the sentiments of PALEA members. More than that, the strike vote is also a requirement of the law. So how can it be illegal and inappropriate?” explained Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and Partido ng Manggagawa vice chair.

PALEA announced that at present the balloting is proceeding in orderly and peaceful fashion in all PAL offices in Manila, the airports of Cebu and Davao, and even outlying stations in 14 cities nationwide.

Rivera added that “The strike vote should not be a threat to anybody, not Malacanang, not even PAL. So we are wondering why is PAL management afraid of the strike vote. Don’t they want to know the opinions of their employees? Maybe they are terrified that their lies and propaganda will be exposed by an overwhelming support for the strike.”

He also answered PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna’s argument that the strike vote is illegal because the issues are already pending before the Office of the President (OP): “The issue pending at the OP is PAL’s outsourcing plan. The strike vote stems from a separate case of union busting and individual bargaining by PAL management. That complaint is pending at the National Conciliation and Mediation Board and holding a strike vote in no way violates the Labor Code.”

Last November 5 PALEA filed a notice of strike for alleged unfair labor practices and union busting by PAL stemming from managers’ efforts to convince individual employees to accept the planned mass layoff. “In the November 8 mediation meeting PAL, through its counsel, stated that it will talk to managers to refrain from discussing the issues with PALEA members. That is on record in the minutes of the meeting. Yet managers have kept on convincing PALEA members to accept the gratuity pay that forms of the separation package enumerated in the ruling of Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz,” Rivera insisted.

The final tally of the strike vote is expected after midnight tonight since highly operational PAL work areas like the airport services department, airport ticketing office, in-flight catering department, and the Mactan airport in Cebu where bulk of PALEA members are situated will have their balloting till 12:00 midnight.

Monday, December 6, 2010

PALEA to hold strike vote tomorrow, expects majority support from members

Press Release
December 6, 2010
PALEA

The Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA), the embattled ground crew union of Philippine Airlines (PAL), will hold a strike vote tomorrow and expects to get the necessary majority support of its members. PALEA leaders delivered a notice of strike vote to the office of National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) Executive Director Reynaldo Ubaldo at 8:30 am with a copy furnished the Office of the Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz at 8:55 am. This means that PALEA can proceed with the strike vote from 9:00 am to 12:00 midnight tomorrow.

“The strike vote is compliance with the requirements of the law. If management does not desist from harassing PALEA members to avail of the separation offer which is tantamount to individual bargaining and therefore illegal then we will be forced to actually hold the strike. Management continues to violate its own promise during the mediation last November 8 that PAL managers will refrain from discussing the issues with PALEA members,” insisted Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and vice chair of the militant Partido ng Manggagawa (PM).

“We don't make strike threats. We just do it when needed. That is why we are preparing the requirements for a strike which will happen at the appropriate time. A majority support of members assessed via a strike vote is necessary to hold a legal strike,” Rivera explained.

PALEA explained that the strike vote does not constitute a transgression of the mediation efforts of the Office of the President (OP). “We are not blackmailing Malacanang to favor our position but we are warning management for its illegal acts. It was PALEA that asked for the intervention of President Benigno Aquino III into the PAL-PALEA dispute and so it is illogical that we will sabotage it. The issue pending at the OP is separate though related to the case from which proceeds the strike vote,” Rivera argued.

He clarified that the issue pending at the OP is PAL’s outsourcing plan which has been affirmed by Labor Sec. Baldoz while the strike vote arose from the complaint of individual bargaining by PAL management which constitutes unfair labor practice and union busting.

Rivera called on PALEA members “To vote yes in the strike vote in order to defend our jobs and secure our future. Those who have their day off tomorrow should go to work to register their vote and express their sentiments.”

Some 3,700 PALEA members from all PAL offices in Manila, the airports of Cebu and Davao, and even outlying stations in 14 cities nationwide will participate in the strike vote. PALEA announced that everything is all set for the orderly conduct of the strike vote tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Urban poor groups hold caravan around QC

Press Release
December 1, 2010
Alyansa ng Maralitang Pilipino

Some 500 urban poor families from various groups under Kilos Maralita and Alyansa ng Maralitang Pilipino (AMP) held a caravan today. They made the rounds of the offices of the Presidential Commission on Urban Poor, the National Housing Authority, National Anti-Poverty Commission, Department of Interior and Local Government and the Commission on Human Rights, all in QC.

The caravan started at 9:00 am in the corner of Agham Road and North Ave and then ended just after noon. “This is just the kickoff of a sustained campaign to push for a three-year moratorium on demolitions and evictions, and also to engage the PNoy government on its housing program,” declared Michelle Licudine of AMP.

Leaders of Kilos Maralita and AMP also conducted a dialogue with heads of some of the offices to convince them on a three year moratorium on demolitions and evictions, and also to recommend a reform of the housing program and policy to the Aquino administration.

On the other hand at the National Hosing Authority, KM and AMP members locked the gates and served a “Notice to Vacate” to symbolize the inutile program of the office. At the Quezon City Hall meanwhile, protesters called for the reform of its Urban Poor Affairs Office which the groups allege has always been biased to private land developers over the poor communities.

The urban poor are demanding a three-year moratorium on demolitions. Among others, the groups are also concerned about the planned flagship project on flood control that will affected hundreds of thousands of poor families residing in waterways and the shores of Laguna lake.

Women workers support RH bill

PRESS STATEMENT
1 December 2010

Working women add our voice to the chorus of support for the RH bill. The Partido ng Manggagawa asserts that the passage of House Bill 96 or “The Reproductive Health and Population and Development Act of 2010” is critical given the impact of the global financial crisis on working people and the poor, especially women. The growing incidence of hunger and poverty only connotes that poor and working women will neither be able to afford nor access contraceptive methods, in particular, and reproductive health care services, in general.

PM supports the RH bill on the basis of women’s right to reproductive health care. The rapid increase in population due to unmet needs of married Filipino women for family planning services is a growing concern. It is different when population control is forced rather than the implicit demand of women as reflected in the following statistics:

• Women want fewer children than they actually have. The total wanted fertility in the country of 2.4 children is 27% lower than the actual total fertility rate of 3.3 children (NDHS 2008)

• 42% of women consider a two-child family as the ideal family size (2008 NDHS)

• 2.6 million Filipino women would like to plan their families but lack information and access to do so. (Family Planning Survey 2006)

• Among the poorest women who would like to avoid pregnancy, at least 41% do not use any contraceptive method because of lack of information or access. (FPS 2006)

• 22% of married Filipino women have an unmet need for family planning services (2008 National Demographic and Health Survey), an increase of more than one-third since the 2003 NDHS, among other numerous statistics and studies that have been conducted.

These data, including the fact that from the 1999 population of roughly 75 million, 10 years later after the first comprehensive version of the RH bill was filed in Congress, the country’s population has increased by 19.3 million or an annual average increase of two million every year within the decade.

And more importantly, precise and regular use of contraceptives can decrease abortion rates by as much as 85% according to Allan Guttmacher Institute. As to the Catholic Church’s irresponsible statement that modern contraception is a form of abortion, this distorts the scientific fact that pregnancy happens at implantation and not during conception as it boldly claims. Such unscientific assertion belies the Church’s claim of being not anti-scientific; it is rather relative, depending on whether it would adhere to its archaic views, regardless of it being anti-women.

This is like going back to the four centuries-old controversy (wherein the Church believed that it is the Earth rather than the Sun the is the center of the solar system) that led to thee burning of Giordano Bruno alive at the stake and the trial of Galileo Galilei by the Inquisition and which forced him to recant and spend the rest of his life under house arrest. And to which, 1992, Pope John Paul II acknowledged a mistake. PM hopes that it will not take that long for the Church to admit that it is making the same mistake.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bonifacio day commemorated with anti-contractualization, anti-globalization calls

Press Release
November 30, 2010

The Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) commemorated Bonifacio day with nationwide mass actions calling for government action to regulate contractualization and for workers resistance to globalization. “Imperialist globalization is the modern-day colonialism. Thus the fight against globalization is the continuation of Bonifacio’s struggle for sovereignty and justice,” asserted Judy Amm Miranda, PM secretary general.

In Manila members of PM, Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA), Fortune Tobacco Labor Union and United Cavite Workers Association met at Morayta by 10:00 am and then marched onto Mendiola around 11:00 am for a joint rally with other labor groups.

The group brought black lanterns to symbolize the bleak Christmas awaiting workers of Philippines Airlines (PAL), Fortune Tobacco and other companies due to the onslaught of contractualization and the threat of layoffs.

Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and PM vice chair, said that “The suspension of the ruling of Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz is merely temporary pending the results of the mediation efforts sponsored by PNoy at Malacañang. In fact after the first meeting more than a week ago with Executive Secretary Pacquito Ochoa, we have not had another yet and we have not had face-to-face negotiations with management at Malacañang. Thus we do not know if PAL management is willing to compromise on its hardline position on the controversial outsourcing plan.”

The protests today are nationwide in scope with the same calls of “Fight contractualization, Oppose globalization.” In Cebu City there was a labor unity rally at downtown Colon St. in the morning. In Bacolod City some 500 industrial workers and hacienda laborers held a program at the Bacolod City Plaza-Rotonda. In Davao City, there was another labor unity march in the afternoon from the Freedom Park at Orcullo St. to the Bonifacio monument at the city hall.

“The nationwide rallies today are our way of expressing our position on outsourcing, mergers, layoffs and other forms of corporate restructuring. We hold that management prerogative is not absolute and cannot trample upon workers’ right to job security and the freedom to unionize,” insisted Miranda.

The Bonifacio day protests are part of the series of activities in the campaign for regular jobs and against contractual employment. Yesterday PM and PALEA held a mini-rally at Welcome Rotonda in Manila in which workers tore 5-months employment contracts in a reenactment of the shredding of cedulas by Bonifacio and the Katipuneros.

Monday, November 29, 2010

“Himagsikan laban sa kontraktwalisasyon” declared in buildup rally for Nov. 30

Press Release
November 29, 2010

Some 150 members of Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) held a pocket protest where they symbolically declared “Pakikibaka kontra Kontraktwalisasyon, Himagsikan laban sa Globalisasyon” as a continuation of Andres Bonifacio’s fight. The highlight of the mini-rally was the tearing of 5-months employment contracts ala shredding of cedulas by Bonifacio and the Katipuneros.

“If Andres Bonifacio were alive today he will no doubt lead a revolution against imperialist globalization which is the root of contractualization,” declared Renato Magtubo, PM chair.

PM also sponsored this morning a labor forum entitled “Pilipinas Gaganda Kung Di Bansa ng Kontraktwal” at the Holy Trinity Parish, Calabash Road, Balic-Balic, Manila. The participants then made a short march to Welcome Rotonda for the mini rally.

The pocket protest today was a buildup for the commemoration of Andres Bonifacio day. Tomorrow PM will assemble at Mehan Garden in Manila by 9:00 am then march to Mendiola for a joint rally with other labor groups by 11:00 am.

Gerry Rivera, PM vice chair and president of the Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association asserted that “Both PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna and Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz sing the same tune of rationalizing outsourcing as a ‘global practice.’ They do not however reveal that contractualization as a consequence of outsourcing is also the most despised ‘employment practice’ around the world.”

The November 30 protest will be a nationwide commemoration with the same calls of “Fight contractualization, Oppose globalization.” In Cebu City there will be a labor unity march at downtown Colon St. in the morning. In Bacolod City some 500 industrial workers and hacienda laborers will have a rally at the Bacolod City Plaza-Rotonda. In Davao City, there will be another labor unity rally.

“The Filipino way of life should be a regular job that provides decent wages, substantial benefits, security of tenure, decent working conditions and the freedom to have a voice and representation in the workplace through a union. If jobs are regular and there are no contractuals, it will truly be Pilipinas Kay Ganda,” argued Magtubo.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Cavite factory on the verge of a strike

Press Release
November 26, 2010

The Best Chemical and Plastic Inc. / Best Chemicals Inc. (BCPI BCI), a Korean-owned factory at Carmona, Cavite, is on the verge of a strike as workers voted overwhelmingly for it last Tuesday. The management and union are presently meeting at the office of the National Conciliation and Mediation Board in Imus, Cavite for compulsory mediation.

The workers decided to hold a strike with 48 voting yes, 2 voting no out of 69 members of the BCPI BCI Independent Union. The dispute arose out of management’s decision to shutdown the BCI plant which will lead to the layoff of 36 union members and seven union officers. Thus the union filed for a notice of strike on the basis of union busting.

Alex del Rosario, president of the BCPI BCI Independent Union, explained that “We have been forced to the brink of a strike due to management’s union busting moves. The closure of the BCI plant is dripping with bad faith on the part of management. Its not so hidden agenda is to block collective bargaining negotiations and destroy the union. We are poised to strike at any time should mediation efforts produce no results.”

The BCI plant is due to close next Monday, 30 days after the company announced the closure last October 29 amidst talks for a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) and management’s petition to cancel the union certification. The circumstances lead the union to question the motives of the shutdown.

The union withdrew an earlier notice of strike after management signed a memorandum of agreement agreeing to start CBA negotiations, a promise it did not however keep. The NCMB even claimed success for settling the dispute in a news story published in the Inquirer.net last October 31. “The right to organize a union and bargain collectively has been an uphill battle in the face of management’s intransigence,” del Rosario alleged.

Dennis Sequena, coordinator for the Cavite chapter of Partido ng Manggagawa which is supporting the BCPI/BCI workers, explained that highlights of the protracted dispute: “The union won a certification election last July despite management interference in the exercise of the right to organize, and collusion by local government officials and Labor Department functionaries. Management then filed a protest at the results of the certification elections which was dismissed for lack of merit. All throughout management repeatedly ignored the union’s request to table the CBA proposal it submitted. Thus the union filed a notice of strike last September 27 on grounds of management’s refusal to bargain but on good faith withdrew it once management promised to start CBA talks. The company’s betrayal of the memorandum of agreement and subsequent closure of the BCI plant led to the present stage of the workers struggle.”

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Labor groups unite for Day of Action for Regular Jobs

Press Release
November 25, 2010

The country’s biggest labor groups came together once more in the “National Day of Action for Regular Jobs and Against Contractual Employment.” The Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA), Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), the anti-contractualization coalition KONTRA, the Labor Alliance for Better Order and Reform (LABOR), the Church-Labor Conference (CLC) and Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) spearheaded the Day of Action.

“This is now a fight that is beyond PALEA. In factories, shops, offices and malls contractual workers are working side-by-side with regular employees in doing the same job for lesser pay and worse working conditions. We demand that government institute reforms to enhance job security and stop contractualization schemes,” argued Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and PM vice chairperson.

Some 2,000 members of the various labor groups marched along Ayala Ave. by 3:00 pm. The mood was festive with an ati-atihan joining the labor unity march.

PM brought tarpaulins with the message “Kung Walang Kontraktwal, Pilipinas Kay Ganda” and “Kung Trabaho ay Regular, Pilipinas Kay Ganda.” Renato Magtubo, PM chair, explained that “The ‘Pilipinas Kay Ganda’ brand captures our dream of a country where workers enjoy job security, living wages, substantial benefits, decent working conditions and the freedom to have a voice and representation in the workplace through a union.”

The Day of Action started early with a Lakbayan of Calabarzon workers from the United Cavite Workers Association and delegations from Laguna and Batangas. After assembling by 7:00 am in Zapote, the Lakbayan Laban sa Kontraktwalisasyon made a stop at Baclaran Church by 10:00 am then proceeded to the assembly area at Makati Fire Station. TUCP joined PALEA, KONTRA, LABOR, CLC and PM at the fire station while KMU linked up at the corner of Paseo and Ayala Ave.

Ramil Cangayao, PM-Cavite chair, said that “The National Day of Action is our way of expressing our position on outsourcing, mergers, layoffs and other forms of corporate restructuring. We hold that management prerogative is not absolute and cannot trample upon workers’ right to job security and the freedom to unionize.”

Protests were also held in Visayas and Mindanao. In Bacolod, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) office was picketed by members of PALEA, TUCP, KMU and PM. In General Santos City, PALEA, TUCP, PM and the union of Yellow Bus Lines led the rally at the DOLE. In Cebu City the mass action was held yesterday with a labor unity forum at the ALU Building in the morning and then an afternoon rally at the DOLE office.

The campaign for regular jobs will also be the theme of the Bonifacio Day commemoration with PM, PALEA and the Fortune Tobacco Labor Union to march on Mendiola on November 29.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Labor groups unite again for anti-contractualization protest

Press Release
November 24, 2010
PALEA

The country’s biggest labor groups come together once more, this time to launch tomorrow’s “National Day of Action for Regular Jobs and Against Contractual Employment.” The Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA), Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), the anti-contractualization coalition KONTRA, the Labor Alliance for Better Order and Reform (LABOR), the Church-Labor Conference (CLC) and Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) will spearhead the National Day of Action.

“This is now a fight that is beyond PALEA. In factories, shops, offices and malls contractual workers are working side-by-side with regular employees in doing the same job for lesser pay and worse working conditions. We demand that government institute reforms to enhance job security and stop contractualization schemes. Ang kontraktwalisasyon ay baluktot na landas,” argued Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and PM vice chairperson.

The central activity is a march along Ayala Ave. in the afternoon by some 2,000 members of the various labor groups. The mood will be festive with an ati-atihan joining the labor unity march.

The Day of Action starts early with a Lakbayan of Calabarzon workers led by the United Cavite Workers Association that will assemble at 7:00 am in Zapote. The Lakbayan Laban sa Kontraktwalisasyon will make a stop at Baclaran Church by 10:00 am before proceeding to the assembly area at Makati Fire Station. TUCP will join PALEA, KONTRA, LABOR, CLC and PM at the fire station while KMU will link up at the corner of Paseo and Ayala Ave.

Rallies will also be held in Davao City and Bacolod City tomorrow. In Cebu City the mass action will be held today with a labor unity forum at the ALU Building in the morning and then an afternoon rally at the Department of Labor and Employment office.

Rivera added that “The Labor Department plans to hold a nationwide tripartite conference on outsourcing in Davao. The National Day of Action is our way of expressing our position on outsourcing, mergers, layoffs and other forms of restructuring. We hold that management prerogative is not absolute and cannot trample upon workers’ right to job security and the freedom to unionize. The constitutional mandate for living wages, security of tenure and collective bargaining should not be dead letters but must be made real in life.”

The campaign for regular jobs will also be the theme of the Bonifacio Day commemoration with PM, PALEA and the Fortune Tobacco Labor Union to march on Mendiola on November 29.

PM to use “Pilipinas Kay Ganda” brand in campaign for regular jobs

Press Release
November 24, 2010

The Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) lauded the delicadeza of resigned Tourism undersecretary Enteng Romano even as it plans to use the “Pilipinas Kay Ganda” brand for its anti-contractualization protest. Renato Magtubo, PM chair said that “Enteng Romano deserves credit for taking responsibility for his mistakes. But his inspiration will not go unused since we will make ‘Pilipinas Kay Ganda’ a slogan in the campaign for regular jobs.”

He added that “The ‘Pilipinas Kay Ganda’ brand captures our dream of a country where workers enjoy job security, living wages, substantial benefits, decent working conditions and the freedom to have a voice and representation in the workplace through a union.”

In tomorrow’s mass action at Ayala Ave. in Makati, PM will bring tarpaulins with the message “Kung Walang Kontraktwal, Pilipinas Kay Ganda” and “Kung Trabaho ay Regular, Pilipinas Kay Ganda.” Tomorrow is the National Day of Action for Regular Jobs and Against Contractual Employment spearheaded by the Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA), Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), the anti-contractualization coalition KONTRA, the Labor Alliance for Better Order and Reform (LABOR), the Church-Labor Conference and PM.

Also joining the Ayala march are workers of Fortune Tobacco Corporation (FTC) who are opposing management’s plans to retrench layoff some 2,000 workers. The workers will be retrenched before possibly being rehired as new employees of the merged company Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corporation (PMFTC). In a meeting between FTC management and Fortune Tobacco Labor Union (FTLU) last week, the latter was informed that older workers will be offered an early retirement plan while younger employees will be terminated and then hired as new workers in the merged company.

Arnulfo Macabutas, FTLU vice-president, said that “We demand that no worker be retrenched and instead that they be absorbed as regular employees of PMFTC with no loss in seniority, wages or benefits. The union and the collective bargaining agreement must likewise be recognized by PMFTC.”

FTLU is basing its demand on jurisprudence that in cases of corporate mergers, there is a continuation in the employment relations from the original companies to the merger entity. “The Supreme Court has ruled that the successor company absorbs all the obligations of the original company with regards to its employees including any exclusive bargaining agent and collective bargaining agreement,” Macabutas.

FTLU members have been mobilizing in mass actions to press for its demand. Last November 10, some 500 FTLU members held a torch parade from the factory to the Concepcion Church in Marikina City.

Solidarity Message to the NUJP Congress

The Partido ng Manggagawa salutes the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines in its two-day Congress. The NUJP is more than capable of meeting the tasks it set itself of promoting press freedom and protecting the rights and welfare of journalists in the Philippines.
In the last year, the NUJP has proven itself in its leadership in the campaign to seek justice for the victims of the Maguindanao massacre, many of whom were media workers. Also, the NUJP has put itself on the line of fire by supporting the fight of the ABS-CBN IJM workers against illegal dismissals and for the right to form a union.

No doubt the plight of journalists in the country is dire and dismal. The Philippines ranks high in terms of the number of media workers killed. Working conditions of journalists are worsening with the mass media corporations resorting to various contractualization schemes.

The culture of impunity and the model of globalization are twin dragons that NUJP must slay if it is to defend and advance the rights and welfare of media workers. In this endeavor, the NUJP need not stand alone. It must seek alliances with its brothers and sisters in the labor movement and civil society with similar perspectives and platforms.

The Partido ng Manggagawa supports the NUJP in its aim of protecting and promoting the working conditions of journalists. Truly there can be no press freedom where media workers exist in conditions of corruption, poverty or fear.

The struggle of the workers against oppression and exploitation would be much harder without a free press. Thus there is an objective basis for collaboration. As we support NUJP in its goals, we challenge it to broaden its reach and link up arms with the labor movement.

Today the fight of the Philippine Airlines employees is a trailblazer struggle for the revival of the workers movement that is inspiring an unprecedented unity of labor. Without as much media attention but with the same determination, workers of Fortune Tobacco and export zone workers are fighting also for job security and union rights.

The struggle of the workers in general and journalists in particular would be much stronger if solidarity is forged in the fight for press freedom, labor rights and social change.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Fortune Tobacco workers oppose retrench-rehire plan, demand continuation of employment status in merged company

Press Release
November 23, 2010

The workers of Fortune Tobacco Corporation (FTC) are opposing management’s plans to retrench some 2,000 workers before possible rehiring as new employees of the merged company Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corporation (PMFTC). In a meeting between FTC management and Fortune Tobacco Labor Union (FTLU) last week, the latter was informed that older workers will be offered an early retirement plan while younger employees will be terminated and then hired as new workers in the merged company.

Arnulfo Macabutas, FTLU vice-president, said that “We demand that no worker be retrenched and instead that they be absorbed as regular employees of PMFTC with no loss in seniority, wages or benefits. The union and the collective bargaining agreement must likewise be recognized by PMFTC.”

FTLU members have been mobilizing in mass actions to press for its demand. They will be participating in “National Day of Action for Regular Jobs and Against Contractual Employment” on Thursday. Last November 10, some 500 FTLU members held a torch parade from the factory to the Concepcion Church in Marikina City. Yesterday FTC workers were set to hold prayer rally in front of the factory gates but heavy rains forced cancellation of the protest.

FTLU is basing its demand on jurisprudence that in cases of corporate mergers, there is a continuation in the employment relations from the original companies to the merger entity. “The Supreme Court has ruled that the successor company absorbs all the obligations of the original company with regards to its employees including any exclusive bargaining agent and collective bargaining agreement,” Macabutas.

Last February FTC and Philip Morris Philippines, Inc. announced the formation of the joint venture company PMFTC with a 50-50 stake from the original companies. The merger created a monopoly in the tobacco industry in the country since FTC controls 60% share of the market while PMPI has 30%.

The various labor groups that have denounced the decision of Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz on the mass layoff at Philippine Airlines will hold the nationwide protest to push for government regulation against contractualization. Aside from FTLU, the Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) will lead the main activity at Ayala Ave. in Makati. Big labor groups that have confirmed attendance in the march along Ayala Ave. include the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, Partido ng Manggagawa, Koalisyon Kontra Kontraktwalisasyon (KONTRA), Labor Alliance for Better Order and Reform (LABOR), and the Church-Labor Conference (CLC).

Rallies will also be held in other key cities like Davao, General Santos and Bacolod on November 25. In Cebu City the mass action will be held tomorrow with a labor forum at the ALU Building in the morning and then an afternoon rally at the Department of Labor and Employment office.

Government's weak adherence to human rights reinforces warlords' culture of impunity - labor group

PRESS RELEASE
23 November 2010

Justice won't come easy for the victims of Maguindanao massacre as long as warlordism and violations of human rights remain rampant in this country, according to labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM). The group joined the November 23 Movement in today’s commemoration of the Maguindanao massacre held in Mendiola.

PM Secretary General Judy Ann Miranda said the culture of impunity attached to warlordism is reinforced further by the government's weak adherence to human rights, or worse by its complicity to the crime as shown in the Maguindanao case.

"The long and protracted prosecution of the main suspects in the massacre is no doubt painful for the victims with the expected delay in the rendering of justice. But the most agonizing part of it as far as the whole nation is concerned is when we see the apparent failure of the government to curb the warlordism common in many places, notwithstanding the fact that human rights are continuously being violated in our country," said Miranda.

The labor group pointed out that as long as private armed groups identified with known warlords and politicians all over the country are not neutralized then the sacrifice of the lives of 58 victims, many of them journalists, was for nothing.

"The best that the Aquino government can do on this case is to ensure the victims that justice would come soon and the country feel the guarantee that human rights are well protected under this administration," added Miranda.

State sanctioned labor rights violation, the group said, is a vivid example of how culture of impunity is reinforced.

"A backhoe was used to bury the victims of the Maguindanao massacre while a Baldozer was utilized in the massacre of regular jobs at PAL. If the government tolerates contractualization as a valid management prerogative, then employers are further emboldened to use the scheme to exploit workers as shown in the case of PAL and many other companies," concluded Miranda.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pahayag ng Pakikiisa ng Partido ng Manggagawa sa ika-25 Anibersaryo ng FIND

Walang duda na Lubhang napakailap ng hustisya sa mga desaparacidos ng ating bansa. Ang 25 na taong pagdiriwang natin ng anibersyaro ng FIND ang mismong nagpapatunay na sa halip na lumapit ay higit pang nalalayo ang hustisyang noon pa natin hinahanap.
Bukod dito, sa halip na mapawi, ang paglabag sa karapatang pantao sa ating bansa ay nagpapatuloy kundi man higit na lumalala sa ibat-ibang anyo ng paglabag. Hindi ba’t ngayon ding araw na ito ang unang taong anibersaryo ng Maguindanao Massacre, ang maituturing na pinakamalagim na kaso ng paglabag sa karapatang pantao sa ilalim ng nakaraang rehimen?

Kung hindi lang maagap na natuklasan ang malagim na krimen, ang 58 na biktima ng masaker na ito ay malamang nadagdag lang sa bilang ng ating mga desaparacidos sapagkat tinangka itong itago sa pamamagitan ng maramihang pagbaon sa lupa gamit ang backhoe. Ang imahe ng ganitong pangyayari ay malamang nagpaala sa inyo ng masamang panaginip sa parehong sinapit ng ating mga mahal sa buhay mula sa kamay ng lupit na namamayani sa bansa mula pa noon hanggang sa ngayon.

At bakit ito nagpapatuloy sa kabila ng katotohanang ilang palit nang hinalinhan si Marcos ng mga pinunong nagdeklarang sila’y tagapagtanggol ng karapatang pantao? Bakit nagpapatuloy ang pwersahang pagkawala, extrajudicial killings, masaker at ibat-ibang anyo ng krimen? Bakit nagpapatuloy ang paglabag sa karapatang pantao?

Isa lang ang nakikita naming paliwanag. Ito ang mahinang pagtangan ng estado sa karapatang pantao. O baka nga mas malala pa dahil sa maraming kaso, ang estado mismo ang sangkot sa mga paglabag gaya nang nangyari sa Maguindanao kung saan ang warlordismo ng mga Ampatuan ay may basbas at suportado mismo ng pamahalaan sa anyo ng pulitikal na alyansa at suplay ng mga armas.

At kung nakikita ng iba pang mga warlord sa maraming panig ng bansa na ang karapatang pantao ay balewala sa pamahalaan, hindi nakapagtataka na sila’y maghari sa pamamagitan ng dahas laluna’t sila rin ang may kontrol sa kapangyarihang pulitikal sa maraming lugar. Mas lalo na kung nakikita nila na ang gubyerno ay violator din ng human rights.

Ang violation sa labor rights ay isang malinaw na halimbawa kung paanong ang culture of impunity sa bansa ay sinusuhayan ng opisyal na sanksyon ng pamahalaan. Ang kontraktwalisasyon ay labag sa batas. Pero parang batas trapiko lang ito kung labagin ng mga kapitalista. Lagpas pa dito, ang estado mismo ang nagbibigay laya sa mga kapitalista na ito ay labagin gaya ng nangyayari sa PAL at sa marami pang kompanya.

Kung sa Maguindanao ang ginamit ay backhoe, sa mga manggagawa sa PAL ang ginamit ay Baldozer para imasaker ang di bababa sa 2,600 regular na empleyado. Kung makalusot ang plano ng PAL na sinang-ayunan ni Baldoz -- na gawing kontraktwal ang mga regular na empleyado, sinong kapitalista ang di gagawa nito para tumiba ng tubo mula sa sakripisyo ng mga manggagawa? Wala pa nga ang order ni Baldoz ay laganap na ang paglabag sa labor rights.

Ito ay halimbawa lamang kung paanong ang ang kawalan o kahinaan ng estado sa pangangalaga ng karapatang pantao, sa kabuuang aspeto nito, ang nagiging dahilan kung bakit lubhang napakailap ng hustisya sa ating bansa.

Kaya naman napakahalagang elemento ng ating nagpapatuloy na pakikibaka ang pagkamit ng tunay na kalayaan hindi lamang mula sa kamay ng mga dayuhan kundi’y maging sa poder ng mapang-aliping kapangyarihan sa ating bansa. Naririyan pa rin ang warlordismo, landlordismo, at pang-aabuso ng kapital sa hanay ng manggagawa at mamamayan. Kaya walang hustisya dahil sila ang pamahalaan.

Ganunpaman, naniniwala pa rin kami na bukas, ang hustisya ay tuluyan nating makakamtan hindi sa muling paglitaw ng ating mga desaparacidos kundi’y sa pagsilang ng isang malayang lipunan na dapat nating pagtulungang ipundar. Mabuhay ang FIND!

Statement on Anniversary of Maguindanao Massacre

22 November 2010

Government's weak adherence to human rights reinforces warlords' culture of impunity

Justice won't come easy for the victims of Maguindanao massacre as long as warlordism and violations of human rights remain rampant in this country. The culture of impunity attached to warlordism is reinforced further by the government's weak adherence to human rights, or worse by its complicity to the crime as shown in the Maguindanao case.

The protracted prosecution of the main suspects in the massacre is no doubt painful for the victims with the expected delay in the rendering of justice. But the most agonizing part of it as far as the whole nation is concerned is when we see the apparent failure of the government to curb the warlordism common in many places, notwithstanding the fact that human rights are continuously being violated in our country.

As long as private armed groups identified with known warlords and politicians all over the country are not neutralized then the sacrifice of the lives of 58 victims, many of them journalists, was for nothing.

The best that the Aquino government can do on this case is to ensure the victims that justice would come soon and the country feels the guarantee that human rights are well protected under this administration.

State sanctioned labor rights violation is a vivid example of how culture of impunity is reinforced. A backhoe was used to bury the victims of the Maguindanao massacre while a Baldozer was utilized in the massacre of regular jobs at PAL.

If the government tolerates contractualization as a valid management prerogative then employers are further emboldened to use the scheme to exploit workers as in the case of PAL and many other companies.

Militants to revive “Pilipinas Kay Ganda” slogan in anti-contractualization protest

Press Release
November 22, 2010

The militant Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) will tweak the reviled “Pilipinas Kay Ganda” slogan in the workers march on Makati this Thursday. PM will bring tarpaulins with the message “Kung Walang Kontraktwal, Pilipinas Kay Ganda” and “Kung Trabaho ay Regular, Pilipinas Kay Ganda” to the National Day of Action for Regular Jobs and Against Contractual Employment on November 25.

“The ‘Pilipinas Kay Ganda’ brand may not be appealing to many but we believe it describes our dream of a country where workers enjoy job security, living wages, substantial benefits, decent working conditions and the freedom to have a voice and representation in the workplace through a union,” stated Renato Magtubo, PM chairperson. PM will also make streamers with the message “Kontraktwalisasyon, WOW Mali” as a play on the old tourism slogan “WOW Philippines.”

The various labor groups that have come together to denounce the decision of Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz on the mass layoff at Philippine Airlines (PAL), will hold the nationwide protest to push for government regulation against contractualization. The Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) and the union at the Fortune Tobacco Corporation (FTC), another Lucio Tan company, will lead the main activity at Ayala Ave. in Makati. Aside from PM, big labor groups that have confirmed attendance in the march along Ayala Ave. include the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, Koalisyon Kontra Kontraktwalisasyon (KONTRA), Labor Alliance for Better Order and Reform (LABOR), and the Church-Labor Conference (CLC).

“This is now a fight that is beyond PAL. In factories, shops, offices and malls contractual workers are working side-by-side with regular employees in doing the same job for lesser pay and worse working conditions. We demand that government institute reforms to enhance job security and stop contractualization schemes,” argued Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and PM vice chairperson.

Participating in the Ayala march are FTC union members who are restive over another corporate restructuring which threatens the job security of its more than 2,000 workers. At 6:00 p.m. tonight hundreds of Fortune Tobacco Labor Union (FTLU) members will hold a prayer rally outside the factory gates in Parang, Marikina City. Last November 12 some 500 FTLU members held a torch parade from Parang to Concepcion.

February this year FTC and Philip Morris Philippines, Inc. announced the formation of the joint venture company Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corporation (PMFTC). FTC has told the union that it will offer early retirement to some 1,000 workers then forcibly terminate another 2,000 workers before being rehired in the merged PMFTC. The union is demanding that PMFTC absorb the FTC workers without loss of employment status and recognize the union and its existing collective bargaining agreement.

Aside from the Ayala march, rallies will also be held in other key cities like Davao, General Santos and Bacolod on November 25. In Cebu City the mass action will be held a day earlier with a labor forum at the ALU Building in the morning and then an afternoon rally at the local Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) office.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

PALEA, Fortune Tobacco union to lead National Day of Action vs. contractualization

Press Release
November 17, 2010

The various labor groups that have come together to denounce the decision of Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz on the mass layoff at Philippine Airlines (PAL), will hold a nationwide protest on November 25 to push for government regulation against contractualization. The Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) and the union at the Fortune Tobacco Corporation (FTC), another Lucio Tan company, will lead the main activity at Ayala Ave. in Makati.

“This is now a fight that is beyond PAL. In factories, shops, offices and malls contractual workers are working side-by-side with regular employees in doing the same job for lesser pay and worse working conditions. We demand that government institute reforms to enhance job security and stop contractualization schemes. Ang kontraktwalisasyon ay baluktot na landas,” argued Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and Partido ng Manggagawa vice chairperson.

The implementation of the Baldoz ruling allowing the layoff at PAL has been effectively stayed with the start of Malacanang-mediated talks between PAL and PALEA last Monday. “So now we have time to develop the movement against contractual employment and for regular jobs,” revealed Rivera. Only PALEA was met by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa last Monday since PAL President Jaime Bautista is still abroad.

Also attending the Ayala march are hundreds of FTC union members who are restive over another corporate restructuring which threatens the job security of more than 2,000 workers. Last Friday some 500 FTC workers held a torch parade from Parang to Concepcion in Marikina City. February this year FTC and Philip Morris Philippines, Inc. announced the formation of a joint venture company called Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corporation (PMFTC). Details of the merger agreement remain unclear especially on the employment status of FTC workers.

Aside from the Ayala march, rallies will also be held in other key cities like Davao, Bacolod and Iloilo on November 25. In Cebu City the mass action will be held a day earlier with a labor forum at the ALU Building in the morning and then an afternoon rally at the local Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) office.

Arnulfo Macabutas, Fortune Tobacco Labor Union vice president, said that “The DOLE plans to hold a nationwide tripartite conference on outsourcing in Davao. The National Day off Action against contractualization is our way of expressing our position on outsourcing, mergers, layoffs and other forms of restructuring. We hold that management prerogative is not absolute and cannot trample upon workers’ right to job security and the freedom to unionize. The constitutional mandate for living wages, security of tenure and collective bargaining should not be dead letters but must be made real in life.”

Monday, November 15, 2010

PALEA insists in Malacanang-brokered talks that layoff is a wrong solution

Press Release
November 15, 2010
PALEA

The Philippines Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) attended the meeting called this morning by Malacanang at the office of the Executive Secretary and insisted that the planned mass layoff is not the solution to the financial problems of Philippine Airlines (PAL).

“We also reiterated our call, as stated in our formal appeal to President Benigno Aquino last Friday, for him to suspend the implementation of the decision by Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz. He can use the powers vested in Article 263 (g) of the Labor Code which states that the President can intervene at any time and assume jurisdiction over any labor dispute in order to settle it. That power has usually been used to stop workers from holding a strike. We are challenging P-Noy to employ it to stop management’s planned mass layoff,” explained Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and Partido ng Manggagawa vice chairperson.

PALEA also clarified that they plan to push through with the strike vote this week despite the ongoing talks between and PAL and PALEA. “The strike vote is part of the process provided for the law towards holding a strike. We are merely complying with the legal requirements. We are thus calling on PALEA members to express their sentiments through the strike vote. We will invite the Department of Labor and Employment to observe the holding of the strike vote,” Rivera stated.

Meanwhile in a meeting last Friday the various labor groups that have come together to support PALEA has decided to call for a National Day of Action on November 25. The theme of the nationwide activities is “No to Contractual Employment! Fight for Regular Jobs!” Thousands of workers from the various labor groups are expected to participate in the main rally in Metro Manila and in other key cities. A thousand restive workers of Fortune Tobacco, also owned by PAL boss Lucio Tan, plan to attend since their job security is threatened by the merger with Philip Morris that created the joint venture company Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corporation (PMFTC) last February.

Rivera insisted that “PAL employees should not pay for PAL’s financial crisis since we did not cause it. Moreover the retrenchment will reduce PAL’s losses by an insignificant 7%. The real reason for the mass layoff is not to save PAL but to bust the union and replace regular jobs with contractual workers.”

PALEA likewise raised the demand for Malacanang to initiate efforts towards regulating the widespread practice of contractualization through both executive action and legislative measures. “Despite the denial of Sec. Baldoz that her decision is not a go signal for capitalists to outsource work, the ruling can and will be used by employers by similarly arguing that management prerogative and financial distress allows them to replace regular jobs with contractual employment,” argued Rivera.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Global union pledges aid to PALEA

Media Release
12 November 2010
International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF)

Global union federation the ITF today pledged its support for the PALEA union and renewed its call to Philippines President Benigno Aquino to avoid a huge loss of jobs at Philippine Airlines (PAL).

The ITF – International Transport Workers’ Federation – has been backing PALEA (Philippine Airlines Employees Association) in its defence of jobs and conditions at the airline. The ITF is now redoubling its efforts, following the decision by the country’s Labor Ministry not to block the probable laying off of up to 3,000 workers in Philippine Airlines’ service divisions. The ITF has therefore put its 781 member trade unions on standby to be ready to assist, and has written to President Aquino. Details of the ITF’s Save Our PAL’s Jobs campaign can be found at www.itfglobal.org/campaigns/campaigns-3192.cfm

The Labor Ministry’s decision confirms one made by the previous Philippine government, that the retrenchment of jobs is permissible as ‘a valid exercise of management prerogative’. PALEA and the ITF are seeking to persuade the government of Benigno Aquino that the move, if permitted, would further aggravate strained labour relations within the airline, weaken PAL, and could be construed as asset stripping of PAL and an attempt to weaken the union and neutralise its defence of its members’ jobs.

In the latest appeal to President Aquino the ITF’s General Secretary, David Cockroft stated that:

“Events at the airline will be well known to you, including the widely reported hiving off by owner Lucio Tan of its most profitable service divisions and their subsequent renaming and incorporation into his own companies, the resulting risk to jobs, and the alleged attempt to neuter any dissent from within the airline by breaking its workers’ union of choice, PALEA.”

He continued: “We are not alone in finding Lucio Tan an unlikely candidate to run such a large and important airline. The sources of the wealth in the Marcos era that reportedly enabled him to do so and the apparent influence he was able to exert over former President Estrada are no secret. If these facts were not enough to create disquiet about his qualifications then his often cited aggressive and hamfisted approach to labour relations would be. We are glad that your government has taken an interest in trying to set right some of the failures of the past. We particularly congratulate you on setting up the Truth Commission, with its mandate to expose corporate and political corruption. Nevertheless, we must respectfully state that we believe the decision of 31st October by your Labour and Employment Secretary to allow the ‘retrenchment’ layoff of 3,000 PAL workers is wholly wrong.”

David Cockroft went on to say: “The potential result of such a decision, if it not rescinded, has been concisely described by PALEA President Gerry Rivera as meaning the death of job security at Philippine Airlines. We, like PALEA, believe it will usher in not just the layoff and possible reemployment without protection and on inferior terms of those 3,000 people, but will also accelerate the decline and dissension that is wracking your nation’s national carrier. We therefore ask you and your government to reconsider the decision most urgently. We understand that it was taken in the belief that the jobs ‘sacrifice’ falls under the provisions of a legitimate exercise of management prerogative but we urge you to reconsider the actual legitimacy of Lucio Tan’s management, the seemingly antagonistic way it has been exercised, and the grave damage that management has reportedly caused to operations, to labour relations, and to the formerly good name of Philippines Airlines. Set in that context, we believe, your Government’s decision cannot be allowed to stand.”

Friday, November 12, 2010

PALEA returns to Mendiola, appeals to P-Noy in last-minute bid to stop layoff

Press Release
November 12, 2010
PALEA

The Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) today returned to Mendiola for a rally to appeal to President Benigno Aquino III to stop the mass layoff of 2,600 employees at Philippine Airlines (PAL). PALEA submitted a formal petition to the Office of the President appealing for presidential intervention to suspend the implementation of the Baldoz decision pending its review.

“We are hopeful that P-Noy will act immediately on our petition. The President has the power based on Article 263(g) of the Labor Code to intervene at any time and assume jurisdiction over any labor dispute in order to settle it. That power has usually been used to stop workers from holding a strike as in the case of PALEA and FASAP recently. But now we are challenging P-Noy to employ it to stop management’s planned mass layoff,” explained Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and PM vice chairperson.

Some 300 PALEA members and supporters from Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) and the coalition Kontra launched a motorcade that started at the PNB Building in Diosdado Macapagal Blvd. then went onto to the Department of Labor and Employment and ended at Mendiola by noon. Meanwhile PALEA, PM and Kontra members in the cities of Cebu and Davao picketed the local Department of Labor and Employment offices to lambast the controversial Baldoz decision.

PALEA had initially planned to file a case at the Court of Appeals to question the Baldoz ruling. Rivera asserted that “We are still reserving the option to go to the Court of Appeals if nothing happens with the Office of the President. We believe we have 60 days to file a case at the Court of Appeals.”

PALEA insisted that its notice of strike is based on valid grounds of unfair labor practice by PAL. “Cielo Villaluna of PAL keeps on denying our claim that management is trying to convince union members to accept the termination package. But she signed the minutes of the conciliation meeting last Monday which states that ‘Management, through counsel, will talk to the managers to refrain from discussing the plan/issues with union members.” PAL has practically admitted to our allegation,” argued Rivera.

He also added in response to Baldoz’ justification that outsourcing is a global trend, “It does not mean that if others are doing it then it is right. If that is the logic then Filipino workers should then be enjoying the generous benefits and protection accorded workers abroad. Fact is the worldwide shift to outsourcing and contractualization has lead to the worsening of global poverty. This global inequality is the root of the global crisis two years ago which is a problem of overproduction in goods due to the lack of purchasing power by workers whose wages and benefits have shrank in the last two decades.”

Thursday, November 11, 2010

PALEA to ask P-Noy to suspend implementation of Baldoz order

PRESS RELEASE
PALEA
11 November 2010

The Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA) will be asking President Noynoy Aquino to suspend the implementation of Baldoz’s order that allows the outsourcing of PAL non-core functions and the contractualization of its regular employees.

PALEA President Gerry Rivera made the annoucement as they plan to make a formal appeal to the President tomorrow in Malacanang.

Tomorrow, members of PALEA, Partido ng Manggagawa and Koalisyon Laban sa Kontraktwalisasyon (KONTRA) will hold a motorcade from the PAL headquarters in Pasay City to the Department of Labor and Employment Building in Intramuros before proceeding to Mendiola to submit PALEA’s appeal to the Office of the President.

“We believe that the President has the powers to suspend the implementation of any executive decision including assailed decisions of his cabinet secretaries,” Rivera said in a statement sent to media.

Rivera said the Baldoz decision is indisputably an unjust decision as manifested in the strong and unified opposition to it by all of the country’s organized labor groups. Organized labor groups, Rivera added, have also called on President Aquino to intervene in the PAL dispute during a joint press conference held on Monday.

Aside from suspension, PALEA is also asking the President to facilitate a fair and equitable resolution of this conflict without trampling upon the rights of labor which are guaranteed by the Constitution and international conventions.

Rivera also announced that PALEA members would conduct a strike vote next week to prepare their ranks against any move by the management to recklessly implement the retrenchment order.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Rival labor groups unite to call on P-Noy to reverse Baldoz ruling

Press Release
November 10, 2010
PALEA

For the first time in a long time, rival labor groups came together in a common cause to support the fight of the embattled Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) and call upon President Benigno Aquino III to reverse the controversial ruling by Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz allowing the planned mass layoff at Philippine Airlines (PAL).

In a gathering last Monday in Quezon City, leaders of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL), and Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) among others agreed on a statement of solidarity with PALEA. The unity statement also condemned the Baldoz ruling as a “clear and present danger to labor rights and may be the last nail on the coffin of job security.”

Other labor groups that signed the unity statement include Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines (FASAP), ABS-CBN IJM Union, Associated Labor Unions (ALU-TUCP), Archdiocese of Manila Labor Concerns (AMLC), Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), Church Labor Conference (CLC), Fortune Tobacco Labor Union (FTLU), Liga Manggagawa, Likha-TUCP, Manggagawa para sa Kalayaan ng Bayan (Makabayan), National Federation of Labor (NFL), Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Transportasyon (PMT), Public Services Labor Independent Federation (PSLINK), TUCP-Congress, Union Network Philippines (UNP), United Filipino Service Workers (UFSW), United Transport Workers Union (UTWU), Urban Missionaries (UM) and United Transport Workers Union (UTWU).

The meeting ended with a public announcement of the unity statement. Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and PM vice chairperson, said that “We call on the government to take notice of this historic solidarity of the full spectrum of the labor movement to defend regular jobs and to fight labor contractualization. It is not too late for Malacanang to intervene in the PAL labor row in interests of safeguarding Constitutionally-mandated workers rights in the face of corporate restructuring.”

Former Sen. Nene Pimentel also graced the event and aside from expressing support for PALEA also offered to assist in the legal aspect of the fight including the planned filing of a case at the Court of Appeals.

“This labor solidarity is an expression that PALEA’s fight for regular jobs goes beyond the interests of PAL employees but involves as well the welfare of all workers. This will not be a country fit for our children if no one enjoys the dignity of a regular job. A regular job that provides decent wages, substantial benefits, security of tenure and the protection of a union should be the Filipino way of life,” Rivera elaborated.

Mass layoff, contractualization threatens 2,380 workers of another Lucio Tan company

PRESS RELEASE
10 November 2010

Aside from the Philippine Airlines (PAL), workers of another flagship company of business tycoon Lucio Tan, the Fortune Tobacco Corporation (FTC), are getting restive as the company embarks on major reorganization which threatens the job security of its more than 2,000 workers, according to the labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM).

Partido ng Manggagawa Chair and former Fortune Tobacco Labor Union (FTLU) president Renato Magtubo added that FTLU members see the threat real and forthcoming but not without resistance from one of the country’ strongest unions. A torch parade around the FTC plants and a march to Concepcion Church in Marikina City will be held at 6:00 p.m. today as a show of resistance to the threat of mass layoff and contractualization.

Magtubo said the threat on job security of FTC workers took shape February this year when FTC and Philip Morris Philippines, Inc. (PMPI) announced the formation of a joint venture company called Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corporation (PMFTC). Details of the merger agreement, however, remain unclear especially on the employment status of FTC workers as the management feeds the union merger information by piecemeal.

The merger, according to industry reports, created a virtual monopoly of the tobacco industry in the country. FTC controls 60% share of the market while PMPI has 30%.

But corporate mergers, acquisitions and other forms of restructuring around the world as a result of globalization were always accompanied by job losses and regression in labor standards on the part of the workers. Magtubo said bank mergers in recent past and now the outsourcing in PAL are fresh examples of how labor is forcibly made flexible to the whims of capital.

“By closely watching the recent developments in PAL, FTLU members are getting restless over the ‘general pattern’ created with PAL’s journey into the world of contractualization,” said Magtubo referring to the planned outsourcing and contractualization of the flag carrier’s non-core function recently upheld by the Labor Department.

Magtubo said the management should make a full disclosure of joint venture agreement and warns it not to resort to any kind of action that would undermine workers’ right to security of tenure, their collective bargaining agreement (CBA), and the defense of their union.

Anti-contractualization group urges Congress to enact tough measures against contractualization

PRESS RELEASE
KOALISYON LABAN SA KONTRAKTWALISASYON
10 November 2010

Some 500 Members of the Koalisyon Laban sa Kontraktwalisasyon (KONTRA) trooped to the gates of Batasan Complex this afternoon asking Congress to enact stringent measures against contractualization to prevent companies from employing different schemes that undermine labor standards.

The picket was held in time for the public hearing scheduled by the House Labor Committee on the intensifying labor dispute in PAL.

“Without these tough measures, companies are emboldened to employ labor flexibilization schemes under the guise of management prerogatives as in the case of PAL,” said Partido ng Manggagawa Chair Renato Magtubo in a statement.

The former labor partylist representative explained that “Unless criminalized, contractualization, though prohibited by law, will be abused to the max by greedy capitalists especially when they find comfort from no less than the Labor Department itself.”

Pete Pinlac, chairperson of Manggagawa para sa Kalayaan ng Bayan (Makabayan), pointed out that schemes such as outsourcing and other kinds of labor flexibilization, are mere faces of the same coin.

“All these are meant to cut on labor cost by different means, either through outright retrenchment or by depressing the price of labor by resorting to contractual work arrangements,” said Pinlac.

Edwin Bustillos of the Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) on the other hand said, the scourge of contractualization has effectively weakened the bargaining power of labor in terms of defending their job security and securing decent income.

“In most cases, contractual workers are denied decent wages, have no job security, and receive no benefits compared to their regular counterparts,” explained Bustillos.

Bustillos said the entire labor movement in the country is against contractualization and is asking Congress to reverse this trend before the Philippines completely becomes a country of contractuals.

KONTRA is a labor alliance opposed to the policy of labor contractualization. It is composed of Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL), the Archdiocese of Manila Ministry for Labor Concerns (AMLC), Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), Manggagawa para sa Inang Bayan (MAKABAYAN), Manggagawa sa Komunikasyon sa Pilipinas (MKP), PALEA, Fortune Tobacco Labor Union (FTLU), Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), Unified Filipino Service Workers (UFSW), and Urban Missionaries (UM).

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

PALEA asks Congress to probe ownership of PAL’s service providers

Press Release
November 9, 2010
PALEA

The Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) is calling on the House Labor Committee to investigate the ownership of the so-called third party service providers contracted by Philippine Airlines (PAL) to takeover the airport services, in-flight catering and call center reservations.

“Congress must attempt to pierce the corporate veil surrounding these service providers. A probe may reveal that Sky Logistics and Sky Kitchen are not third-party companies but simply fronts with Lucio Tan as the real owner,” asserted Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) vice chairperson. Sky Logistics is set to takeover the airport services to be shutdown by PAL while Sky Kitchen will capture PAL’s in-flight catering operations. Meanwhile PAL’s call center reservations will e contracted out to ePLDT Ventus.

Tomorrow the House Labor Committee to will hold a hearing on the PAL labor row. PALEA and PM will attend the House hearing to push Congress to regulate the rampant contractualization schemes of employers. Some 500 members of PALEA, PM and the coalition Kontra will also hold a picket the Batasang Pambansa at 11:30 a.m.

PALEA believes that Sky Logistics and Sky Kitchen are in fact owned by Lucio Tan and the alleged proprietor, a certain Manny Osmena, is just fronting for the PAL boss. “Manny Osmena is a Chinese immigrant who acquired Filipino citizenship by naturalization and in the process changed his name to Manny Osmena. He is not related to the Osmenas of Cebu instead he is a cousin of Lucio Tan,” Rivera revealed.

He said that the information they have gathered is that PAL President Jaime Bautista is a stockholder of Sky Logistics and Sky Kitchen. He is also a partner of Manny Pangilinan in ePLDT Ventus. Rivera announced that “We are asking the House Labor Committee to validate these data by asking PAL management to make a full disclosure of the interlocking directorates between PAL and the service providers.”

PALEA is also asking Congress to probe the bonuses received by PAL executives and board members during the years that the national flag carrier was claiming losses. “Why does PAL reward the failure of its executives and officers with indecent benefits? And why is it that workers have to pay for the financial crisis of PAL?” Rivera insisted.

Rivera quoted from documents in PALEA’s possession that reveal bonuses received and estimated to be received by the top senior executive officers in the three years from 2008-2009, 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 at around USD 60,000 (PHP 2.76 M at exchange rate of PHP46 to USD1) per year. This is aside from salaries of around USD 360,000 and other annual compensation of up to USD 90,000.

“For the same years, all the other PAL officers and Board of Directors received no less than USD 25,000 in bonuses on top of salaries of more than USD 150,000 and other annual compensation of up to USD 265,000. These bonuses and other compensation were given out during the years that Labor Secretary Baldoz in her decision cites PAL’s claimed of losses of USD 297.8 M in 2009 and USD 14.3 M in 2010 as basis for retrenchment,” Rivera added.

Anti-contractualization group holds local noise barrage in support of PALEA

PRESS RELEASE
KOALISYON LABAN SA KONTRAKTWALISASYON
09 November 2010

Members of the Koalisyon Laban sa Kontraktwalisasyon (KONTRA) staged localized mass actions in the form of noise barrage this morning in several crowded areas in Metro Manila in support of Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA) members’ struggle against mass layoff and contractualization.

The first noise barrage between was held between 8:00am – 9:00 am at Pasay Rotonda. Members of PALEA distributed thousands of flyers to commuters and passersby calling on the public to support their struggle against the contractualization policy in PAL as well as in other industry.

In Bicutan Interchange, members of Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) and Manggagawa para sa Kalayaan ng Bayan (Makabayan) led the second noise barrage calling for the resignation of Labor Sec. Baldoz and the intervention of P-Noy in the PAL-PALEA dispute.

The noise barrages started a week-long series of protests that will culminate in PALEA’s filing of appeal at the Court of Appeals on Friday to reverse the Baldoz decision. KONTRA is also joining Friday’s synchronized picket by PALEA of DOLE’s Regional offices in Bacolod, Iloilo, Cebu, Davao, Dipolog, General Santos City, and Zamboanga.

Workers welcome solidarity from Catholic Church on PAL labor row

Press Statement
November 9, 2010
Gerry Rivera
PALEA President

Last October 29 Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz released a decision that allows Philippine Airlines (PAL) to outsource its airport services, in-flight catering and call center reservations and layoff more than half of its workforce. The Halloween order will lead to the massacre of some 3,000 regular jobs and the death of the oldest union in the country.

The decision sets a dangerous precedent for it will open the floodgates to massive contractualization. Regular employees of PAL will be retrenched and then rehired as contractual workers in so-called third-party service providers. The work done at the service providers will be exactly the same but for cheaper wages, fewer benefits, no security of tenure and no protection of a union.

All the employees to be retrenched by PAL will indeed be absorbed by the service providers but only as contractuals. As contractuals, ex-PAL workers would enjoy no security of tenure and thus can be legally fired at the whim of the service providers. Without a union, ex-PAL workers will have no protection and no voice as employees in the service providers.

The euphemistically termed “transition benefits” enumerated in the Baldoz ruling are mere artificial sweeteners to the bitter pill of contractualization. They may well be above the separation pay mandated by law and the CBA but it nonetheless cannot provide for a decent life to those facing the prospect of long-term unemployment.

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo captured our sentiments when he said that the Baldoz decision reflects the policy of the Aquino administration to continue rather than cure the virus of contractualization. The Philippines will be a much poorer country if we become a nation of contractuals.

This will not be a country fit for our children if no one will enjoy the dignity of a regular job. A regular job that provides decent wages, substantial benefits, security of tenure and the protection of a union should be the Filipino way of life. This is not an impossible dream for employers need only be guided by Christian teachings on sharing the fruits of production.

PAL workers warmly welcome the support of the Catholic Church for PALEA’s demand for social justice and the protection of regular jobs. A church-labor solidarity is just as important as the labor unity forged yesterday with the full spectrum of the trade union movement from the moderate to the militant championing PALEA’s fight for regular jobs.

PALEA calls for the resignation of Labor Sec. Baldoz and the intervention of President Benigno Aquino in suspending the implementation of the mass layoff. On Friday PALEA will also file a case at the Court of Appeals against the Baldoz decision.