Greetings of solidarity!
In the name of the working class of the Philippines, the Partido ng Manggagawa or Labor Party, extends the long hand of solidarity to the workers of Japan and other countries who are participating in the November Workers Rally. The call of the November Workers Rally for the establishment of a nationwide network of militant unions in Japan to lead the revival of the labor movement and the fight against the onslaught of neoliberal globalization is utterly correct and necessary.
All over the world, workers are facing the vicious attack of the capitalists and their governments against labor standards and workers rights. As international capitalism plunges into a deep and historic crisis, the race to the bottom in wages and working conditions worsens ever more. The working class is being made to pay the price of a crisis that is not of its own making.
We fully understand the plight of the 1047 dismissed national railway workers. We also recognize the negative impact of privatization and deregulation on workers and the people. In fact the very same issues animate the struggles that are being launched by workers in the Philippines.
In the Philippine Airlines, our national flag carrier, more than half of the workforce, some 3,000 workers, is facing retrenchment. Regular unionized employees will be replaced by agency workers who will have cheaper wages, less benefits, no security of tenure and no right to organize. While the plight of workers when the Philippine Airlines was nationalized was no heaven, it has become hell after the flag carrier was privatized and bought by the second richest man in the Philippines.
The fight for job security and workers rights at Philippine Airlines is the biggest labor dispute in the country. Not only is it a litmus test of the labor policy of the new government in the Philippines but it is a trailblazer struggle for the workers movement. The future of labor relations and the labor movement depends on the outcome of the fight between labor and capital in Philippine Airlines.
The defense of labor standards and workers rights is the content of the struggle at Philippine Airlines and in other establishments, factories, shops and offices in our country. In fact it is the same everywhere else for workers. In Japan, you call agency workers as dispatch workers. In the Philippines we call them contractual workers. The term is different but the conditions are the same for all workers exploited by the greed of capitalists.
The same issues confront workers in the Philippines that are employed by Japanese transnational corporations. Many of the 600,000 export zone workers in the Philippines are employees of Japanese companies, which are arguably the biggest investors at the moment. The most prevalent issues of export zone workers are violations of mandated labor standards, restrictions on the freedom to organize, and restraints on the right to peaceful concerted actions including strikes.
Indeed there is much that binds the workers of the Philippines and Japan in particular and of other countries in general. If not for the labor dispute at Philippine Airlines, I would have also participated in the international conference and workers rally in Japan. Still the workers of the Philippines are one in spirit with the call and demands of the November Workers Rally for defense of workers rights and the fight against neoliberal globalization.
Vice Chairperson, Partido ng Manggagawa (PM)
President, Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA)