Sunday, July 31, 2011

Blaze Manufacturing as Case Study of Suppression of Unionism at Mactan Ecozone

Picket at PEZA with protesters mouths taped and hands bound to symbolize suppression of union rights at export zones of Cavite and Cebu
The intransigence of the management of Blaze Manufacturing Corp., a locator in the Mactan Economic Zone in Metro Cebu, to workers efforts to unionize and the indifference if not collusion of government agencies is symptomatic of the wholesale resistance to exercise of the freedom of association in that ecozone. After more than three decades in existence, no single union with a collective bargaining agreement presently exists in the Mactan ecozone which is the second biggest in the country.

Despite the pronouncements of employers and government, including the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), that fact alone exposes the systematic violation of ILO Conventions 87 and 98 in the Mactan ecozone. The case of the rank-and-file and agency workers of Blaze Manufacturing, a Japanese-owned company producing hi-blocks for export, reveals this pattern of the suppression of the right to organize.

Two weeks after a certificate of registration for the Blaze Manufacturing Corp. Employees Union (BMCEU) was issued by the DOLE last March 15, 11 workers were terminated by management. Over the next few weeks, management tried to convince workers to withdraw from the union while offering to promote others. None of these anti-union maneuvers were successful and by June 3 a certification election was finally conducted.

BMCEU handily won the certification elections, arguably the first time that a union won in the Mactan ecozone since all previous attempts were defeated by the various management union avoidance tactics. Unfortunately the victory was pyrrhic as the company declared closure on the eve of the historic certification elections.

In fact the workers had to vote in the regional office of the DOLE as they were prevented from entering the Mactan ecozone due to the factory closure. Management used the alibi of Blaze being sold to a new Japanese owner for the impromptu shutdown which was in violation of the 30-day notice rule for any permanent or temporary closure.

Meanwhile the workers of the agency supplying workforce to Blaze also organized themselves into a union. Again in arguably the first time in the Philippines, workers of the A. Bones Manpower and Recruitment Agency successfully formed the Agency Workers Union of Blaze (AWUB) and won the certification elections in polls conducted last July 5. The certification elections were likewise held at the DOLE regional office as the workers were out of work since Blaze was the only principal to which the agency places it employees.

By the time the agency workers had won the certification elections, many Blaze workers, out of economic difficulties, finally accepted management’s offer of a separation package. Still a significant number pushed through with cases of illegal dismissal and union busting against Blaze.

And yet despite the pendency of the labor dispute, PEZA issued on July 8 a letter of authority allowing Blaze to operate. Thus on July 10, Blaze reopened and rehired all of the terminated non-union members while it is contracting a new manpower agency for the additional workforce.

Last July 18 workers wrote PEZA questioning the basis of the authority for Blaze to reopen despite the pendency of the labor dispute. The reopening of Blaze exposes the real agenda of the factory’s closure as blatant union busting tactic.

Both BMCEU and AWUB had launched protest actions at the PEZA offices in Cebu to call for the cancellation of the letter of authority and a hearing on the workers demands regarding the labor dispute with Blaze. A solidarity action by ecozone workers from Calabarzon last July 22 was held in support of the Blaze rank-and-file and agency workers.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Labor group to PNoy: Extend clemency to all PP’s but please don’t be late next time

The labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) appealed to President Benigno S. Aquino III to expand the coverage of executive clemency he gives to qualified inmates by including those who have been convicted for political crimes generally known as “political prisoners” or PPs.
The appeal came after PNoy had been criticised for having his first executive clemency granted to a dead inmate, Mariano Umbrero.  A political prisoner suffering from lung cancer during his many years of incarceration, “Tatay Umbrero” to the human rights community, finally succumbed to death on July 15, four days before PNoy granted his request for clemency.
“The last breath of life could have not been that harsh to Tatay Umbrero if he was given the chance to step out of Bilibid to rejoin his family.  Yet PNoy can ease that grief by giving hope to the collective prayer of his fellow PPs and their families.   Palayain nyo na po sila, Mr. President, at sana ay di na po late sa susunod na pagkakataon,” appealed Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) chair Renato Magtubo.
Magtubo said that in a bid to get the attention of President Aquino, who happens to be the son of a former political prisoner Ninoy Aquino, 11 political prisoners went on hunger strike since July 25 at the Bilibid prison to renew their call for immediate freedom.
The hunger strikers are asking the President to grant the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners who are still languishing in different jails all over the country, as well as prison reforms particularly amendments to the Rules on Parole and Guidelines for Recommending Executive Clemency which they claim, is not in conformity with the principle of restorative justice.
Yesterday several groups including PM joined the solidarity fasting for the PPs sponsored by the human rights community in front of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) office in Quezon City. PM is also joining scheduled activities next week, including an action at the Department of Justice on Monday.
“We know that PNoy has many concerns to attend to but this is one issue which cannot wait for another government to come.  A lost day of freedom for PPs is a lost chance for the likes of Tatay Umbrero to reclaim lost productive life,” ended Magtubo.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Eradicating wang-wangs will not eradicate poverty

Press Statement
July 25, 2011

PNoy’s bosses are unsatisfied with the SONA. Eradicating wang-wangs will not eradicate poverty. It will not create jobs for the Filipinos nor raise the wages of workers.

Workers want a war not just against Gloria for plundering the nation but even more a war against globalization for pillaging the country’s patrimony. Labor calls for a new not just straight road. The old road of contractualization, privatization, liberalization, deregulation and globalization is at the root of the impoverishment, unemployment and hunger of Filipinos.

It is not PNoy’s leadership style that is the problem but his leadership vision that is at issue. This false vision of progress through globalization is no different from Gloria’s.

Workers hold counter SONA, challenge PNoy’s social transformation agenda

Press Release
July 25, 2011

Some 1,000 members from different workers groups comprising the anti-contractualization coalition KONTRA held a labor counter SONA at Mendiola this morning. Renato Magtubo, Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) national chairperson, slammed PNoy for anti-labor policies in his first year in office.
“How can social transformation be real when groups calling for social change are blocked miles away from hearing distance of PNoy and Congress? Social transformation is impossible without political and economic reforms,” he said.
In the afternoon, PM, KONTRA, Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA) and Alyansa ng Maralitang Pilipino (AMP) joined the multisectoral groups Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) and Kampanya para sa Makataong Pamumuhay (KAMP) in a march from Tandang Sora to Batasang Pambansa. Meanwhile youth groups such as PM-Kabataan and Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan (SDK) assembled at Philcoa, Quezon City then merged with PM and the multisectoral groups in the march along
Commonwealth Ave.
Gerry Rivera, PM vice chair and PALEA president argued that “After one year of PNoy, there is no new program to generate jobs, no new mechanism to increase workers wages and no change in the no-union policy in the ecozones. PNoy has given the go signal for contractualization at Philippine Airlines (PAL). He has praised Hanjin’s investments but has been silent on the deaths and injuries of workers at the shipyard-cum-graveyard. PNoy has continued with sacrificing labor rights at the ecozones to attract foreign capital.
Labor counter SONAs were also held in other cities. In Metro Cebu, PM and other groups under the coalition Kahugpungan sa Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Sugbo (KANAMASO) marched this morning from Sto. Rosario Church to downtown Colon. In Metro Davao, PM massed up at Magsaysay Park then marched along
Magsaysay Ave.
to Orcullo Park for the rally. In Iloilo, PM held a forum at UP-Iloilo and also a press conference to air its reaction to the SONA.
“Workers challenge PNoy to jumpstart his so-called social transformation agenda by reversing the Office of the President decision on PAL, declaring the security of tenure bill as a priority agenda and implementing a massive public employment program,” insisted Judy Ann Miranda, PM secretary general.

Absent major policy reforms, there will be no social transformation

Church-Labor Conference (CLC)
Koalisyon Laban sa Kontraktwalisasyon (KONTRA)
25 July 2011

President Aquino’s communication advisers said the President’s second State of the Nation Address (SONA) will focus more on ‘social transformation’.  What would that mean in real sense, however, largely depend on how Filipinos would view their lives today and in the immediate future.  And for the masang Pinoy who have been used to hearing nice words from their leaders, this new buzzword assumes no meaning at all unless accompanied by major policy reforms. 
For unemployed workers, their ‘transformation’ would mean having stable and good paying jobs.  For contractual workers, that would mean regular and secured jobs.  For the homeless, that would mean decent homes for the family.  For the poor, sick, and old, that would mean universal healthcare and pension systems.  For the youth, that would mean free education and brighter future.  For migrant workers, that would mean a secured environment back home.  For women, that would mean more freedom and equal opportunity.
For the economy, that would mean a departure from the old system and the creation of a new roadmap for development.  In politics, that would mean an end to elite rule and the establishment of a truly democratic government.
Absent these policy changes, the much-hyped ‘social transformation’ would remain an empty phrase.  And unfortunately during Pnoy’s first year in office, the economic and labor policies that he upholds are more of the same.  He still clings to the free market economics of neoliberal globalization and upholds the policy of cheap labor and contractualization as manifested clearly in the case of Philippine Airlines and Hanjin. 
Thus, different labor groups gathered today in Mendiola and in Batasan to challenge the President that major steps must be done beyond his tuwid na daan battlecry.  So beyond the push for good governance, the manggagawang Pinoy are asking PNoy to: (1) put an end to contractualization; (2) push the passage of Security of Tenure bill; (3) implement a public guaranteed jobs program; (4) declare a moratorium on demolitions; and (5) formulate a social protection package for displaced workers in the form of unemployment insurance and the like to address the problems of the displaced workers.
Philippine Airline Employees Association (PALEA)
Samahan ng mga Manggagawa sa Hanjin (SAMAHAN)
Partido ng Manggagawa (PM)
Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL)
Manggagawa para sa Kalayaan ng Bayan (MAKABAYAN)
Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP)
National Union of Building and Construction Workers-National Confederation of Labor (NUBCW-NCL)
Urban Missionaries (UM)
Archdiocese of Manila Labor Center (AMLC)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Bagong landas ng social reform di lang tuwid na daan ng good governance

Press Statement
July 23, 2011
Gerry Rivera
President, PALEA
Vice Chair, PM

Hiling ng mga manggagawa kay PNoy sa SONA:
Bagong landas ng social reform di lang tuwid na daan ng good governance

In his SONA, President Benigno Aquino will likely highlight his administration’s accomplishments in stamping corruption. But workers believe that poverty will not be solved by good governance alone. Poverty can only be eradicated by reforms in the economic and social arena that attacks the iniquitous distribution of wealth in the country.

After one year of PNoy, there is no new program to generate jobs, no new mechanism to increase workers wages and no change in the no-union policy in the ecozones. PNoy has given the go signal for contractualization at Philippine Airlines. He has praised Hanjin’s investments but has been silent on the deaths and injuries of workers at the shipyard-cum-graveyard. PNoy has continued with sacrificing labor rights at the ecozones to attract foreign capital.

In Philippine Airlines, the Office of the President has allowed management to outsource 2,600 jobs even as it suppressed the right of the union to fight through an assumption of jurisdiction order. In the Hanjin shipyard, another worker has died last Wednesday, adding to the 31 previous deaths. In the Mactan Economic Zone, after three decades a union finally won a certification election only for the Japanese company to shutdown operations in order to bust the union then reopen last week via a permit from the Philippine Economic Zone Authority.

Kung ganito sa unang taon ni PNoy, paano na sa susunod pang limang taon?

Despite the absence of wang-wangs, despite the resignation of Merci Gutierrez and despite the initiative to prosecute GMA for plundering the country, it is undeniable that the number of poor and hungry Filipinos has remained the same if not worsened. And it is because there is not social reform being implemented under the PNoy administration despite the so-called social contract with the people.

The contents of the PNoy’s Philippine Development Plan are hardly different from GMA’s Medium Term Philippine Development Plan. PNoy’s Public-Private Partnership is simply privatization by just another name. Privatization has being tried by Cory, FVR, Erap and GMA. And it has been exposed as the root of the high prices of power, electricity and water, and of excessive toll fees among others.

Ipinapaabot ng mga manggagawa kay PNoy: ang gusto ng kanyang mga boss ay bagong landas di lang tuwid na daan. Ang kailangan ng taumbayan ay di lang good governance kundi higit sa lahat social reform.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Women workers call on PNoy to make RH bill a priority

Partido ng Manggagawa (PM)
22 July 2011

Around 200 women members of the Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) joined the Reproductive Health Advocacy Network (RHAN) rally held at Mendiola this morning to, once again, call on President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to include the RH bill in his priority legislations for this Monday’s (July 25) SONA.

PM women members brought with them posters of a clock set on 11 o’clock depicting the number of women dying of pregnancy and childbirth complications daily.  Women are calling on PNoy to put an end to this daily massacre by putting his words into action. 

“Your administration has been always clear with your commitment to the private sector, but not with the people whom you have declared your 'bosses.'  You have made sporadic statements of support to the RH bill.  It has been confusing though because you did not include it in your first SONA priority list of legislations.  We hope that it will be in your second SONA,” stressed PM Secretary General Judy Ann Chan-Miranda.

On Monday, PNoy’s second SONA, the Partido ng Manggagawa will join the rally at Mendiola in morning together with other labor groups.  In the afternoon, it will be part of the joint rally of the Kampanya para sa Makataong Pamumuhay (KAMP) and Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) at the Batasan.  Besides the demand to priority the RH bill, PM will call on the PNoy administration to put an end to contractualization and ensure workers’ rights and security of tenure.

Workers hold pre-SONA protest vs. PEZA

Press Release
July 22, 2011

Some 200 members of the Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) held a pre-SONA protest at the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) today as the labor group slammed the suppression of the right to unionize in the ecozones even under the present administration. Some of the protesters, many of whom are workers in Cavite factories, had their hands and mouths bound to symbolize the suppression of the freedom to organize in the ecozones.

“After one year of PNoy, there is no new program to generate jobs, no new guideline to increase workers wages and no change in the no-union policy in the ecozones. PNoy has given the go signal for contractualization at Philippine Airlines. He has praised Hanjin’s investments but has been silent on the deaths and injuries of workers at the shipyard-cum-graveyard. PNoy has continued with sacrificing labor rights at the ecozones to attract foreign capital,” declared Judy Ann Miranda, PM secretary general.

To highlight its case, PM pointed out to PEZA’s collusion in stifling workers efforts to unionize at the Mactan Economic Zone (MEZ) in Lapu-Lapu City. A Japanese-owned company in MEZ, Blaze Manufacuring Corp., shutdown its operations on the day that a certification election was held. The union won the elections for the first time in the history of that ecozone.

Miranda insisted that “We demand that the PEZA national office revokes the letter of authority it granted to reopen recently.” PM is slamming Blaze for union busting and PEZA for its collusion. The PM chapter in Cebu had already picketed the PEZA office in Lapu-Lapu City last Monday.

“Ipinapaabot ng mga manggagawa kay PNoy, ang gusto ng kanyang mga boss ay bagong landas di lang tuwid na daan. In his SONA, PNoy will highlight his administration’s accomplishments in stamping corruption but poverty will not be solved by good governance alone. Poverty can only be eradicated by reforms in the economic and social arena that attacks the iniquitous distribution of wealth in the country,” Miranda explained.

PM is participating in protests before and during the SONA to underscore its critique of the Aquino administrations programs. On Monday, PM will join other labor groups in a Mendiola rally to criticize the administration’s anti-labor policies including its tolerance of contractual employment. In the afternoon, PM will participate in a broad mobilization of militant organizations at the Batasan to challenge President Aquino on the pro-globalization framework of the Philippine Development Plan and the public-private partnership.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Filipino migrant teachers picket US DOL office

[Photo by teacher Zarelle Bernardo]
Last July 15, 2011, around 300 Filipino teachers and their supporters trooped to the office of the US Department of Labor (DOL) in Washington DC to protest the department's recent decision. The protest action was spearheaded by the Pilipino Educators Network (PEN).

The DOL's decision will affect more than 1000 foreign teachers. These foreign teachers who are mostly from the Philippines are holding H1-B visas.  They are victims of excessive fees by their placement agency and employer (Prince George County Public Schools).  After investigation, the DOL handed down a decision that penalizes the district. However the decision also penalizes the victims even harder by mandating that the employer will not be allowed to renew the teacher's visas for the next two years. This will result in a series of termination of more than 800 Filipino teachers.

Partido ng Manggagawa sent its statement of solidarity and released its position statement in support of the teachers protest action.

Expropriation is the ultimate solution to Hacienda Luisita dispute

July 20, 2011

In the Philippines where big landlords sway both economic and political powers in all levels of society, the idea of putting an end to the age-old old agrarian dispute at Hacienda Luisita through a referendum is neither just nor democratic.

It is a farce.  It is a ploy.  It is a travesty of justice. 

First, the referendum on stocks distribution option (SDO) expressed in the recent Supreme Court decision bolsters rather than weakens the Cojuangcos’ perpetual control of their sprawling 6,435-hectare estate.

Second, Luisita farmers were actually denied justice when the Justices threw the issue back to them in clear breach of their constitutional duty to dispense social justice to the poor farmers.

Third, a referendum was never made a demand by both the farmers and workers of Hacienda Luisita, thus, can never be considered an exercise of democracy.  What they want, on the contrary, is land distribution and not an SDO.

Fourth, the Cojuangcos’ undeniable reign of power all over Tarlac, notwithstanding their present familial grip over Malacanang through PNoy, is what would make the referendum ‘an initiative from above’ and therefore a patently undemocratic political exercise.

The Supreme Court has clearly played mum and deaf on the farmers’ and workers’ cry for agrarian justice.  But more than that, it turned a blind eye on the concept of social justice by wilfully taking the landlords’ side in keeping the SDO scheme alive. 

The SDO was no doubt a brilliant ploy by the Cojuangcos to evade agrarian reform.  The Constitution, as well as the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law, neither mentioned nor referred to the SDO as another option for land reform.  Thus, it is in the best interest of the Cojuangcos and for other landlords to make the SDO scheme lawful either by legislation or by judicial action.  The Supreme Court may have consciously played into this game.  And this is not acceptable!

The Partido ng Manggagawa stands for democracy and social justice, thus it supports the farmers’ struggle for land and the democratization of the countryside.  Agrarian justice through expropriation or nationalization of lands is a basic democratic demand for it is a struggle against land monopoly and tyranny by the feudal lords.  And more importantly, it is about social justice because agrarian reform, in its true form, commands wealth redistribution thus an empowering tool for social justice and national development.

Unfortunately, agrarian reform in the Philippines was considered a ‘centerpiece’ program which, ironically, has never been at the heart of the past and present administrations.   As such, even a less hostile form of expropriation (with compensation) mandated by law has never been enforced on big landholdings.  Hacienda Luisita is a showcase.  The reason is obvious.  It cannot be enforced because landlords and the elite have been ruling this country since the first republic up to the present.

Without expropriation, Hacienda Luisita cannot be freed from the control of the Cojuangcos.  Without expropriation, Hacienda Luisita cannot be transformed into state or cooperative farms.  Without expropriation, farmers will never enjoy the fruit of their half-century old struggle for land and justice.

Without expropriation, genuine agrarian reform will remain dead.

PM supports Escudero’s call for independent body to investigate poll cheating

Press Release
July 20, 2011

The Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) today expressed support for Sen. Chiz Escudero’s call for an independent body headed by a retired Supreme Court justice to conduct an investigation into the allegations of cheating in the elections of 2004 and 2007.

“It is high time to put a closure to the question of who really won the 2004 elections. Arising from the cover up during the regime of Gloria Arroyo, it is to the interest of truth and justice that an independent body now hears evidence and testimony of witnesses such as Zaldy Ampatuan and Lintang Bedol,” stated Renato Magtubo, PM national chair.

Magtubo also called on President Benigno Aquino III to include the burning issue of poll reregulates in his SONA speech. “We want to hear in his SONA PNoy’s personal position on the demand for an investigation of the cheating in the 2004 and 2007 elections,” Magtubo insisted.

However Magtubo also challenged Aquino to go beyond the issues of cheating and corruption in his SONA speech. “We know that PNoy will highlight his administration’s accomplishments in the arena of stamping corruption but poverty will not be solved by good governance alone. Poverty can only be eradicated by radical reforms in the economic and social arena that to attacks the iniquitous distribution of wealth in the country,” he elaborated.

PM is planning protests before and during the SONA to underscore its critique of the Aquino administrations programs. On Friday morning, PM will participate in a thousand-strong mobilization of pro-RH bill advocates at Mendiola. Meanwhile on Friday noon, PM will lead a rally at the
Roxas Boulevard
office of the Philippine Export Zone Authority to assail the agency for its role in the suppression of the right to organize in ecozones.

On Monday, PM will join other labor groups in another Mendiola rally to criticize the administration’s anti-labor policies including its tolerance of contractual employment. In the afternoon, PM will participate in a broad mobilization of militant organizations at the Batasan to challenge President Aquino on the pro-globalization framework of the Philippine Development Plan and the public-private partnership.

“PNoy’s decision in the Philippine Airlines labor dispute over outsourcing and contractualization, and recently his praise for Hanjin’s billion-dolar investments but silence over the shipyard’s record as a graveyard for workers rights are the most concrete illustration of the contradiction between his anti-corruption posture and his pro-globalization agenda,” Magtubo argued.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Statement On the Plight of Filipino Teachers of Maryland’s PGCPS

July 15, 2011

Lured by the American dream, non-immigrant workers here in the US have been subjected to different forms of exploitation, manipulation and abuse. The complexities of the recruitment process are being taken advantage of by placement agencies and sometimes with the collaboration of representatives of US employers. Oftentimes foreign workers leave their country deep in debt in raising money needed to cover for exorbitant placement and other fees.

Recently, the US Department of Labor found Maryland’s Prince George’s County Public Schools in willful violation of the laws governing the H1B temporary foreign worker program. The DOL cited the school district’s failure to pay the proper wages by virtue of deduction of fees that are supposed to be shouldered by the employer as required by law and its failure to maintain complete documentation.

The same decision also issues the following remedy as a penalty to the school district: (1) the school district is ordered to refund illegally collected fees to foreign teachers as back wages, and (2) debarring the school district for two years from participating in the H1B program. At face value it seems that this DOL decision is a victory to the foreign teachers who have been victims of illegal fees by their employers and also who have been the milking cow of placement agencies who practice shady recruitment schemes.

The problem with the recent DOL decision however is that the debarment of PGCPS from the H1B program will mean not only that the district wouldn’t be able to bring in new foreign teachers but also prohibiting them from filing for the renewal of existing teachers whose H1B visas are set to expire in the next two years. Further the district is prohibited from filing permanent visa sponsorships to those teachers who intends to continue serving their respective schools and become permanent residents of the US.

So in effect, this recent DOL decision will result in a series of termination of Filipino educators and other foreign teachers. Starting this month, more than 1,000 PGCPS teachers will be affected. In penalizing the school district, the DOL is in fact punishing the very victims of this illegal scheme by the employer and the recruitment agency.

We, at Partido ng Manggagawa, believe that the DOL decision is extremely flawed on the following grounds:

1) The DOL decision does not embody justice but on contrary represents appalling injustice. It is a slap on the wrist of the violator and punishes hard the very people who were victimized and originally made the complaint. Also, we can’t help but wonder why the DOL is silent on the role of the placement agency that clearly has some violations and is equally responsible as well.

2) The decision would be a powerful disincentive to other non-immigrant workers in similar circumstances to report illegal recruitment activities by US-based employers and placement agencies. This will discourage other victims from cooperating with DOL and CIS investigations. Foreign workers should be encouraged, not discouraged from filing complaints.

3) The decision sets a bad precedent in cases of other Filipino and foreign teachers who have exposed the anomalies in the process by which they were recruited. One specific example is the struggle of Filipino teachers in Louisiana who stood up for their rights and recently have filed a class suit against their recruitment agency and the school district. And the DOL also have an ongoing investigation on the circumstance of their recruitment.

4) With this decision, the DOL is party to an unfair labor practice that is equivalent to retaliatory action against teachers and union members who initiated complaints against their employer. This kind of ruling would be welcomed by employers who aim to terminate those employees who stand up against them.

5) This decision is also damaging to the interest of the children of Prince George County. These highly qualified foreign teachers have performed well in their responsibility to educate the children of the district. These children deserve these commendable teachers and it is a disservice to have these educators terminated.

It is with these points that the Partido ng Manggagawa is calling for the Department of Labor to retract its original decision and issue a ruling that is fair and just. We appeal to the Department of Labor to live up to its mission of promoting the welfare of working people.

We also call on the Philippine Embassy to intervene with urgency on this matter. We are aware that the embassy in Washington DC is coordinating some efforts. However, with several of these teachers’ visas expiring within this month, there is a need for our embassy to pursue immediate and stronger action. We believe that our embassy consider a possible lodging of a diplomatic protest as this is a clear injustice to our citizens -- our teachers who came here to help fill in the teachers’ shortage, sold their properties and were victimized by illegal and exorbitant charges, worked hard to educating American children, only to be terminated by a violation that they did not commit.

Lastly we call on all Filipino teachers of Prince George County to unite and move as one in pushing for your rights. The Filipino and the Filipino-American community are behind you. The workers movement is behind you. Stand up and let your voices be heard. It is imperative that you move together and you move now.

Mabuhay ang manggagawang Pilipino!
Mabuhay ang gurong Pilipino!

Renato Magtubo

Ian Seruelo
US - Liaison Officer

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Young people to join march for RH on World Population Day

July 10, 2011
Partido ng Manggagawa-Kabataan (PMK)
Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan (SDK)

Saying they are no longer too young and dull to understand sexuality and reproductive health, students and out-of-school youth members of Partido ng Manggagawa-Kabataan (PMK) and the Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan (SDK) are joining the Purple March tomorrow, July 11, as the entire world celebrates the World Population Day.

More than a hundred members of PMK and SDK are joining the Reproductive Health Advocacy Network – Youth (RHAN-Youth) that will participate in the Purple March and Parade that will assemble at Raja Sulayman Park, Malate at 7am tomorrow. They will be carrying posters “Hindi na kami bata para sa RH” enumerating the reasons for their support to the RH bill in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

“The fact that the world of seven billion today remains divided between the rich minority and the poor majority, we believe that young people still have the chance of having a better future if we have a better understanding of everything, including on our sexuality and RH needs,” said Karol Hernandez, PMK spokesperson.

“Hindi nakatulong sa gaya naming mga kabataan ang pag-iwas ng lipunang pag-usapan ang mga usapin sa sekswalidad at RH.  Imbes na alam namin ang gagawin dahil sa kakulangan ng impormasyon, mas marami sa amin ang nag-eeksperimento at nakikinig sa kapwa naming kapos din sa kaalaman sa RH,” added Hernandez, explaining how escaping the issues concerning sexuality made the youth, specially young women, dependent on ‘sabi-sabi’ or superstition on one of the most important aspect of their lives – their reproductive health.

According to Ms. Hernandez, because of the lack relevant and accurate information: 30% of Filipino women become mothers before they reach their 21st birthday; 11 mothers die every day due to pregnancy and child birth complications; 2 out of 5 teenage pregnancies are ‘unwanted’; 46%  of these unwanted pregnancies turn into ‘induced abortions’; 1 out of 4 teenage mothers stop schooling to concentrate on child rearing; and 10% of children of teenage mothers, 1 out of 5 die due to various reasons.

“The RH bill’s passage is an urgent issue for the Filipino youth.  Attached to the compulsory education for the youth – among Grade 5 to 4th year high school students – is the opportunity for a brighter future for us, the youth.  In this issue, we believe that, this time, the conservative adults should listen to the youth,” asserted SDK spokesperson, Ernest Abanes. Abanes said young Pinoys are also aware of the many problems facing today’s youth such as high cost of education, unemployment and deteriorating labor standards and they want President Aquino address these concerns in his upcoming State of the Nation Address (SONA).

“But PNoy should never forget the equally tall order of getting the RH bill approved by Congress,” ended Abanes.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Agency workers in Cebu ecozone form union

Press Release
July 7, 2011

In arguably the first time in the country, workers of a manpower agency deploying labor force in the Mactan Economic Zone (MEZ) in Metro Cebu successfully formed a union and won the certification elections (CE) in polls conducted last Tuesday at the Region VII office of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). “We now have a voice in our workplace and a union to protect our rights and welfare as workers both in the agency and the principal company,” declared Eddie Booc, president of the Agency Workers Union of Blaze.

Dennis Derige, spokesperson of Partido ng Manggagawa-Cebu, stated that “The no-union policy in the MEZ has been finally broken. The militancy of the Cebu workers has surmounted resistance of the capitalist, specially the locators association MEPZ-CEM, and the collusion of the government agencies specifically the Philippine Export Zone Authority and the DOLE. The victory of the union in the CE at the agency comes on the heels of the earlier union win in another union election at principal employer Blaze Manufacturing Corporation.”

In a close battle, some 19 voted yes and 18 voted no in the CE among workers of the A. Bones Manpower and Recruitment Agency. The agency places workers at the Blaze which was recently sold to a new owner. The Japanese-owned company produces construction materials for export to Japan.

Booc added that “The unionization of agency workers is another stage in the struggle against contractualization. We consider our fight as a continuation of the fight for regular and decent jobs such as the battle of the Philippine Airline Employees’ Union.”

The labor dispute at Blaze remains unresolved as some workers refused to accept the company’s offer of a separation package. The company closed its operations and separated its workers on the day a historic election was held that ended in a landslide victory for the union. PM-Cebu has accused Blaze of union busting.

Derige argued that the Blaze regular and agency workers are blazing a trail for the right to organize in the export zones. “PNoy declared in his speech at the UNI APRO meeting last Tuesday that labor laws must be reformed so that workers rights and welfare are protected.  We challenge PNoy to go beyond words and support the ecozones workers fighting for the right to unionize,”  he said.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Protest caravan presses Hanjin to comply with safety and other labor standards

03 July 2011

Disgusted with 5,000 accidents resulting to at least 31 deaths since it operated in the country, the labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) today took part in the labor and church led “Caravan for Decent Work and Humane Working Conditions” from Manila to the Subic Bay Freeport in Olongapo City where the sprawling complex of Hanjin shipyard is located. The caravan, co-organized by the Church-Labor Conference (CLC), is met along the way by workers from Pampanga and Bataan under the Manggagawa para sa Kalayaan ng Bayan (Makabayan) and Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya (KPD).

A group of cyclists and motorcyclists are to meet them at Olongapo City for a short program at Hanjin shipyard.  After the program, CLC co-chair and CBCP National Secretariat for Social Action Bishop Broderick Pabillo leads the mass at Brgy. Wawandue in Subic.  A torch parade around the city follows by nightfall. The Partido ng Manggagawa has been labelling the Korean-owned shipyard as the “graveyard of workers’ rights” for the appalling number of work-related deaths and accidents lying above many other labor rights violations in the company.

“Deaths, accidents, massive contractualization, cruelty against workers, poor working conditions and the denial of workers’ right to self organization, are things that cannot just be put under the rugs by the labor movement, the Church, the government, and the international community,” declared PM Chair Renato Magtubo. A labor department’s Occupational Safety and Health Standard (OSHS) director disclosed that based on its own investigation there were already some 5,000 reported accidents in Hanjin in the first two years of its operation.

Hanjin began its Philippine operations in 2006. The labor group Makabayan has put the number of work related deaths at Hanjin to 31; 11 cases of maltreatment by Korean superiors; 63 illegal termination; and 20 illegal suspension.

Workers also complain of spoiled foods being served to them, the rude physical treatment they are getting from their Korean superiors, and the low wages they receive since they are all employed through subcontractors. “Subjecting Hanjin’s 21,000 workforce into this cruel world of industrial relations is a national policy question that has to be addressed by Pnoy regardless of Koreans bringing in billions of pesos of investment in the country,” argued Magtubo. On 2009, the Senate Labor Committee conducted an inquiry on Hanjin and found many lapses in safety standards and other labor law violations.  The Department of Labor and Employment on the other hand came out with a circular for safety compliance yet deaths and accidents still hound the shipyard.

Labor and church groups are urging the government to strictly enforce all safety standards in Hanjin and compel the company to observe the Philippine and international standards on decent work, including the workers’ right to organize -- specifically the recognition of the Samahan ng mga Manggagawa sa Hanjin. The group is also asking for the cancellation of permit to operate of some 19 contractors which supply 100 percent of Hanjin’s contractual employees.

National moratorium on demolitions needed to avoid repeat of Davao incident –labor group

02 July 2011

The unfortunate, violent face-off between the furious Inday (Mayor Sara Duterte) and the hapless Sheriff (Abe Andres) could have been avoided if there had been a declared national moratorium on demolitions, the labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) said in a statement.

According to PM Secretary General Judy Ann Miranda, violent confrontations between the informal settlers and the demolition team are normal occurrence whenever an eviction or demolition order is enforced either by the court or by the government itself.  And in many instances, a hapless sheriff who has no personal discretion at all to either withhold or press on with the order coming from his/her bosses, ends up getting the ire of angry residents, or in this recent case in Davao – a brutal hit from the mayor’s furious fist.

“As a party of ordinary labourers, we cannot help but sympathize with Sheriff Abe Andres for the humiliating experience he suffered from the hands of Mayor Inday.  Yet we also recognize the firm resolve of Mayor Duterte in addressing the problem of her constituents in an appropriate manner and to prevent the expected outbreak of violence,” explained Miranda.   

In fact, added Miranda, “Minus the disposition for brutality, all LGU officials should have the kind of social instinct that Mayor Sara Duterte has.” 

The labor group together with other groups under the Kampanya para sa Makataong Pamumuhay (KAMP) had been urging the Palace since last year to declare a moratorium on demolitions, evictions and foreclosures on informal settlers while a new comprehensive housing policy is not yet in place.

“If the Masang Pinoy is really his boss, PNoy should likewise have the political will of Mayor Sara.  The President in fact neither needs a fist nor a gun to stop violent demolitions but just a pen for an Executive Order declaring a moratorium,” concludes Miranda.

PM recalled that just recently also, exchange of words occurred between Makati Mayor and Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary (DILG) Jessie Robredo when violent confrontations flared up during the demolition of the Laperal compound in Guadalupe.

Several other demolition operations also ended up in violence and resulted eventually to the massive displacement for the cities’ informal settlers.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Release all detained Malaysian socialists and stop on-going crackdown

Urgent Appeal: Crackdown on Malaysian Socialists

Dato' Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak,
Prime Minister of Malaysia,
Prime Minister's Office,
Main Block, Perdana Putra Building,
Federal Government Administrative Centre,
62502 Putrajaya , MALAYSIA
Dear Sir,

We are writing to you, to express our outrage and our strongest condemnation over your government's on-going crackdown and the arrest of the 30 PSM Activists.

We are appalled by your government and the police's latest actions and view this as an attempt by your government to intimidate Malaysian citizens from exercising their civil and political rights

We further demand that your government stops the assault on freedom of expression and release all the 30 PSM Activists immediately.

Yours sincerely,

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

P-Noy gets failing mark, make up assignment from labor

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30 June 2011

Greatly disappointed with President Aquino’s performance during his first year in office, the militant labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM)  gave P-Noy a failing mark, specifically for making the Philippine Airlines (PAL) the flag carrier of his labor contractualization policy and for perpetuating the country’s pro-capitalist economic policies.

PM joined other groups in a rally for social protection held at the Mendiola bridge today organized by the Kampanya para sa Makataong Pamumuhay (KAMP).  KAMP is calling on the government to install social protection policies to prevent the vulnerable sectors of Philippine society from further impoverishment. 

“P-Noy failed labor the very first day he assumed office and he continue to do so by making labor contractualization his major policy stand,” stated PM Chair Renato Magtubo. 

But more than just designating a failing mark, the labor group is giving P-Noy a load of assignments in order to make up and stay relevant, lest he squander the next five years doing things that have no impact on the lives of the working class.

Magtubo said his group is putting forward its “Apat Na Dapat” agenda for the government to consider.  These include:
1. Regular jobs, not contractual employment;
2. Public Employment Program for the unemployed;
3. Healthcare coverage for all; and
4. Moratorium on demolitions, evictions and foreclosures

Magtubo said this four-way test for P-Noy is not a mere menu of things to do as each item require a major reversal of current policies.  The Public Employment Program, for instance, would depart from the failed private sector led employment generation while healthcare for all would involve large amount of state subsidy – a policy renounced under privatization and market deregulation. 

Organized labor is also at odds with Malacanang since last year when Rosalinda Baldoz, President Aquino’s labor secretary, upheld Lucio Tan’s plan to layoff some 2,600 PAL employees and rehire them as contractual workers.  Although Malacanang has ruled in favour of Baldoz’ order, the outsourcing issue is still awaiting final resolution from the Office of the President. 

Contractualization, the labor group claims, depresses labor standards including income and job security. It exacerbates the unemployment and underemployment problems by transforming many jobs temporary in nature.

“Chronic unemployment and the proliferation of temporary and precarious jobs were the main reasons why many Pinoys suffer the life of indignity,” said Magtubo. A recent survey made by the Social Weather Station put the number of unemployed among adults to 11 million.

The labor leader and former partylist representative added that P-Noy made many bad things even worse by clinging onto the same economic policies imposed by previous administrations. 

“Unbridled liberalization prevented the growth of agriculture and local industry in the last three or four decades, thus, creating no solid base of employment for the growing labor force.  Deregulation and privatization on the other hand made Filipinos suffer more under the regime of high prices,” explained Magtubo.