Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Job security and union membership gave courage to IMF head accuser

Press Release
May 25, 2011

The Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) today pointed out the little known fact that the hotel maid who is accusing Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund and erstwhile possible French presidential candidate, is a union member covered by a contract that guarantees job security.

“This celebrated case of sexual assault could have gone the way of many—unreported and unknown—if the victim had not been an empowered woman because of union protection and security of tenure. Personal courage and union membership gave the immigrant worker from Africa the guts to fight a rich and powerful man,” asserted Judy Ann Miranda, PM secretary general.

The hotel maid works in the Sofitel Hotel whose employees are organized and represented by the New York Hotel Trades Council. A collective bargaining contract guarantees security of tenure to their members which mean that unlike ordinary workers in America, they cannot be fired without reason.

“This incident and others like puts a spotlight on the need to protect job security for workers in general and women in particular. Thus we call on Congress to pass the proposed security of tenure bill,” Miranda added. The security of tenure (SOT) bill is due to be reported out by the House Labor Committee for plenary deliberation. “We expect the SOT bill to be just as controversial as the RH bill. This time the Catholic Church will be an ally rather than an antagonist of women workers,” she emphasized.

Miranda stated that “The hotel maid’s case is not exactly the same but is similar to the Philippine Airlines (PAL) ground attendant’s complaint against an abusive politician. Drawing from her personal stores of courage, PAL employee Sarah Bonnin-Ocampo chose to pursue a case against AVE Rep. Eulogio Magsaysay and once she did despite the indifference of PAL, the Philippine Airline Employees’ Association was there to support her. If the hotel maid and Sarah were contractual workers, they would have simply have suffered in silence.

Miranda argued that “In a context where anybody can be fired at will, a lowly worker victimized by a company client learns to be docile for the sake of her livelihood. Women’s empowerment cannot be divorced from labor rights given the fact that half of the work force is female.”

PM is at the forefront of the campaign against contractualization and the advocacy for the security of tenure bill. It is also active in lobbying for the RH bill and the fight against sexual harassment in the workplace.

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