Saturday, November 30, 2013

Ilustrado class failed this nation – labor group

30 November 2013
The ilustrado class failed this nation, the labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) declared on the 150th birth anniversary of the plebeian hero, Andres Bonifacio. 
The group, which joined the broader labor coalition Nagkaisa! in a march to Mendiola today, compared the country’s present rulers -- the corrupt, traditional politicians (trapos)  -- to that of the ilustrados and “lahi ni Legazpi” described then by Bonifacio in his “Ang Dapat Mabatid ng mga Tagalog”, as a race we allowed to live “most bountifully and lavishly” while we ourselves suffered deprivation and hunger.
PM Chair Renato Magtubo made this parallelism in the face of unaddressed problems of poverty and inequality in the country under the more than a century of uninterrupted rule of elite regimes. “Today, an elite club of 50 richest Pinoys controls more than half of our nation’s wealth, their combined wealth equivalent to a year’s income of 31 million minimum wage earners. While the elite live bountifully and lavishly, majority of our people remain jobless, homeless and hungry,” stated Magtubo.
Bonifacio day rallies were also staged by PM in Cebu City where workers marched around downtown Colon and in Bacolod where factory and agricultural workers held a program at the city plaza.
The labor leader added that the gaping inequality and deepening poverty in the country is made worse by the devastating impacts of climate crisis and the government’s inability to effectively respond to them as manifested in the case of Yolanda.
Magtubo pointed out further that even the “haring bayan” or “sovereign people” concept which was the idea of democratic rule by Bonifacio during that time, remains a dream as the country continues to be ruled by ilustrados which metamorphosed into what is called today as “trapos.”
“These trapos do not have the vision of Bonifacio’s ‘kasaganaan and kaginhawahan’ (abundance and prosperity) as their concerns revolve around selfish greed,” said Magtubo, pointing to the high level corruption scandals involving high officials of the land. 
The labor group averred that the situation could have been different today had Bonifacio and the Katipunan movement gained complete freedom from colonial powers and democratic institutions were formed and truly ruled by the sovereign people.
“Unfortunately the old colonialism was only supplanted by modern globalization in which processes are captured by imperialist nations.  And the country’s rulers just changed clothes,” explained Magtubo.
The struggle, he said, continues with workers willing to carry on with the tasks of realizing Katipunan’s vision of kalayaan, kasaganaan, at kaginhawahan.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Labor urges gov’t to make employment, building new communities a priority in post-Yolanda rehab

28 November 2013

Tacloban City and the rest of typhoon-ravaged places in Regions 8, 7 and 6 must be rehabilitated and rebuilt based on a framework of building the people’s capacity to survive calamities and live a secure and dignified life thereafter, the labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) said in a statement.

“A new model of community must be built out of the ruins of Yolanda. Employment must be a top priority since it is regular income that gives people a sense of long-term security and a life of dignity,” said PM spokesman Wilson Fortaleza. 

Fortaleza pointed out that since the private sector where the government completely relies on job generation is not capable, prior to and after Yolanda, of providing employment to the poor people of these particular regions, the rehabilitation plan must therefore include a medium to long-term public employment program where the State plays a key role. 

“Such program may include social service activities such as healthcare, climate-resilient mass housing projects, education and skills training, as well as building new, smart and renewable power and transport systems that would create green jobs, among others,” added Fortaleza. 

The labor group likewise stressed that if “Yolanda” is the “new normal” vis-à-vis climate change, then the government must not stay on a normal mode of asking, repacking, and delivering relief goods from northern countries in the face of 20 Yolandas in every semester of the whole year.

“There must be a shift – from relief operations to building prepared and secured communities,” said Fortaleza.

He added that northern countries whose high carbon emissions produce many Yolandas in the Pacific must be made to pay for a climate debt they owe to poor nations such as the Philippines – the compensation coming from them must be utilized for building new kind of communities.  

However, the labor group finds it very unfortunate that this country had been, up to this moment, is under the rule of the Ilustrado class whose vision of the country cannot go beyond the insular demand of their pockets. 

“It’s very clear that government’s failure in Yolanda, both national and local, is the failure of trapo politics,” said Fortaleza

On Saturday, November 30 and the 150th birth anniversary of working class hero Andres Bonifacio, Partido ng Manggagawa will join the NAGKAISA! coalition march to Mendiola to raise the many working class issues that past and present governments failed to address, including climate crisis.

Monday, November 18, 2013

PALEA: Message to supporters on settling outsourcing dispute

Greetings of solidarity to brothers and sisters in the labor movement!

A bit of good news from the Philippines amidst the national tragedy of the super typhoon Haiyan: Last November 14, Philippines Airlines and PALEA signed an agreement to end the long-running labor dispute over outsourcing. PALEA members will be going back to work as regular workers! Under the agreement, the PALEA members at the picketline will receive an improved separation offer and then be re-employed within three months from the date of the signing.

Resistance saved PALEA’s regular jobs. If PALEA had accepted outsourcing then its members would have become contractual workers trapped in an endless cycle of precarious jobs. Or worse they would have become unemployed in a jobless growth economy. Instead PALEA members will be returning to their regular jobs in a few months.

PALEA expresses its deep gratitude for the passionate support of the labor movement across the world to its struggle against job outsourcing and contract work. At its peak, a global day of action spanned four continents. The international solidarity not just sustained the fight but inspired PALEA to continue the struggle until victory.

Looking back at the three long years of PALEA’s fight, it is clear that the old school tactics of direct action at the workplace, the traditional picketline, labor solidarity and community support was crucial in developing the struggle. Every single instance PALEA lost the outsourcing case before government bodies and the labor courts. Yet in the end, PALEA won its demand through negotiations but drawing strength from resistance and solidarity. PALEA owes this hard-won victory to the steadfast fight of PALEA members and the fervent solidarity of workers, community and Church groups in the Philippines and abroad.

However, even as PALEA celebrates its win, the union sympathizes with the victims of typhoon Haiyan. For PALEA, the disaster is up close and personal. PALEA’s vice president grew up in the worst hit city of Tacloban and still has family living there. After a few agonizing days, he learned that they are safe though shaken. Scores of PALEA members work at the Tacloban airport which was utterly destroyed save for the runway.

PALEA’s affiliated labor party, Partido ng Manggagawa or PM, is appealing for assistance to workers and the poor who have suffered from Haiyan. PM is calling for solidarity so it could offer relief at least to its affected members and organized communities. Among them are PM members among informal drivers and the urban poor in Tacloban. Relief would complement the organizing efforts of PM on the basis of working class issues.

PALEA’s victory is the victory of all workers. PALEA believes its victory will jumpstart the revival of the labor movement in the Philippines. PALEA wishes too that its win will inspire union brothers and sisters around the worldwide. PALEA pledges its solidarity to workers fighting everywhere as it has done for comrades in Qantas and Turkish Airlines.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Keep women and children safe from rape and sexual abuse in disaster areas

Joint Statement of Partido ng Manggagawa Women’s Committee and Women’s Day Off
15 November 2013

It’s the 6th day of the aftermath of super-typhoon Yolanda.  Food distribution, power and water supplies, communication and transportation have remained big problems.  Hence, victims have become hungrier and more desperate.  According to Secretary Ochoa, government needs to produce 146,000 relief packs a day.  So far, it has only been able to produce 50,000 per day.  Various groups, families of victims and individuals have mobilized relief goods but these could not compensate for the big shortage.  Logically, a significant number of people have been going hungry for days.

Today, the situation has become even more distressing as confirmed reports of rape began to surface, particularly in Tacloban City.  Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) and Women’s Day Off fear that the same thing may be happening in other affected areas especially in towns/sitios where power has not been restored and the local government non-functional.  Moreover, the consequent deprivation of food and water for days increases the danger of coercive sexual encounters among women and children.

The impact of disasters such as Yolanda on reproductive health can be devastating.  We are equally concerned with displaced women who will be pregnant, face delivery under dangerous conditions, and others who may be victims of violence.  In addition to food and water, and other basic needs, we expect the need for reproductive health services and information to persist and even escalate.

The Philippine government should immediately set-up temporary refuge/shelters to house women and children to isolate them from the risk of rape and other forms of sexual abuse.  In the absence of hospitals or clinics nearby, makeshift health facilities with essential items to ensure the health of women and newborns should likewise be set-up.  Finally, makeshift toilets and baths with locks should also be constructed for the use of women and children.  Their safety is as vital.  Recovery and rehabilitation will take time, hence, the importance of these temporary structures and services for women and children.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

PM: Battle over outsourcing at PAL over but war vs. contractualization continues

Press Release
November 14, 2013

The labor party Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) congratulated the union Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA) for the settlement agreement signed today with the management of Philippine Airlines (PAL).

“Kudos to PALEA officers and members for a hard fought struggle and a well deserved victory. The battle over outsourcing at PAL is over but war against contractualization continues. Workers should learn to heart the lesson of PALEA’s struggle—we can win as long as we fight well,” declared Renato Magtubo, PM national chair.

The most salient part of the settlement agreement provides for the re-employment of PALEA members to regular positions after receiving an improved separation package compared to that mandated by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Office of the President (OP).

“At every single instance PALEA lost the outsourcing case before the courts and government bodies—like DOLE and OP. Yet in the end, PALEA won its demand for regular jobs through negotiations on the basis of resistance and solidarity,” Magtubo explained.

PM along with the workers coalition Nagkaisa, labor groups, community organizations and Church institutions were among PALEA’s most determined supporters. The group said that they are ending the boycott campaign launched against PAL and its sister airline Air Philippines with the formal signing of the agreement.

He added that “The return of PALEA members to their regular jobs belies the hollow argument of government officials that outsourcing is a global trend that cannot be challenged.”

Magtubo averred that “Ang panalo ng PALEA ay panalo ng lahat. We believe that PALEA’s victory will start rolling back the epidemic of contractualization and be a turning point towards the revival of the labor movement.”

PM leaders will join PALEA members in a thanksgiving mass at 5:00 pm today at the PALEA protest camp outside the PAL Inflight Center near Terminal 2. Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo—among PALEA’s solid supporters in the Church—is scheduled to celebrate the mass.

The group will also be attending a victory march, program and concert on Saturday at the PALEA picketline.

PALEA back as regular workers in pact with PAL

Press Release
November 14, 2013

The union Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA) hailed a settlement agreement signed today with the management of Philippine Airlines (PAL) that provides for the re-employment of some 600 members as regular workers. In a private ceremony in a downtown hotel in Mandaluyong at noon, officers of PAL and PALEA signed the agreement.

“Resistance saved PALEA’s regular jobs. If we had accepted rather than fought the outsourcing scam implemented in 2011 then we would have become contractual workers trapped in an endless cycle of 6-month endo jobs. Or worse we would have become unemployed in this jobless growth economy. Instead we will be returning to our regular jobs in the next few months.” said Gerry Rivera, PALEA president.

The agreement provides for an improved separation package of 200% per year of service and P150,000 in gratuity pay for PALEA members. Within three months PAL shall process the applications for re-employment of PALEA members who will be given priority for hiring in regular positions.

“We owe this hard-won victory to the steadfast fight of PALEA members and the fervent solidarity of workers, community and Church groups both here and abroad. PALEA’s victory is the victory of all workers,” Rivera explained.

He added that “We thank PAL management led by President Ramon Ang for recognizing that an amicable settlement is preferable to continuing labor strife. We hope to build on this agreement and the protection of job security it provides towards rebuilding labor management relations in the flag carrier.”

At 5 pm today, hundreds of PALEA members will gather in the protest camp outside the PAL Inflight Center near Terminal 2 to hear a thanksgiving mass to be celebrated by Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo. Tomorrow representatives of PAL and PALEA will proceed to the other protest camp near the Mactan International Airport in Cebu to meet the concerned workers there.

Rivera noted that “We pledge to the riding public that as regular workers we can better provide quality service and safe travel. We call on our supporters to lift the boycott PAL campaign as PALEA’s demands have been substantially met.”

PALEA is planning a victory march, program and concert at the protest camp later this week. Last November 8 at the height of super tyhoon Yolanda, some 550 PALEA members out of the 600 affected, assembled and voted to ratify the draft agreement negotiated by its officers.

Appeal for Solidarity with Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan Victims

Tacloban City, 10 November 2013
The most powerful typhoon ever recorded in the Philippines and one of the worst in the world, super typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda slammed the central part of the archipelago and wrought devastation in its wake. The true extent of the damage to lives and property is yet to be known as Haiyan/Yolanda destroyed critical communications and power infrastracture thus limiting access to the worst hit areas.

Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) [Labor Party-Philippines] is appealing for solidarity and assistance to ordinary workers and poor who have suffered from the super tyhoon’s impact. PM members among informal drivers and the urban poor in Tacloban, Leyte were among those severely affected and will be among the focus of the relief assistance.

The super typhoon swept through the islands of the central Philippines from Cebu to Panay where PM maintains chapters in the key cities. In Cebu and Bohol, the devastation of the typhoon comes on top of the destruction brought by a magnitude 7.2 earthquake less than a month ago. As in all the disasters brought about by climate change, the urban and rural poor suffer the most.

PM is appealing for assistance so it could offer relief at least to its affected members and its organized communities. Relief assistance would complement the organizing efforts of PM on the basis of urban poor and working class issues.

PM is a political organization of the working class which engages in parliamentary struggle as a extension of the parliament of the streets. Even as PM has a strategic vision of social change, it actively fights for social reform and even involves in relief efforts as means to arouse, organize and mobilize the working people.

To donate via bank wire transfer:
Partido ng Manggagawa
Current Account No. 003122-1012-73
Landbank of the Philippines
Batasan Branch
To donate relief goods contact:
Partido ng Manggagawa-Central Visayas office
Workers Development Center, Barangay Pajo, Lapu-Lapu City 6015
Cellphone Nos. +639166058407+639328785506

Partido ng Manggagawa National office
144 Legaspi St., Project 4, Quezon City, Philippines 1109
Landline No. +632-4396829

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Statement on Haiyan / Yolanda’s Aftermath: They destroy, We suffer

Photo by Romeo Ranoco/Reuters
Partido ng Manggagawa
(Labor Party-Philippines)
12 November 2013

Capitalism is destroying the planet.  Now we suffer.

The horror of devastations unleashed by monster-typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) upon eastern and central Philippine regions is unspeakable.  As of writing, estimates on number of casualties and actual damages stay tentative since many areas remain isolated and communications, power, road and port systems are down.

Initial estimate made by the provincial government of Leyte and the regional police put the death toll to at least 10,000 as 70 to 80 percent of houses and structures along the typhoon’s path were destroyed.  In Tacloban City alone, city officials told the media that the death toll ‘could go up’ to 10,000 as people died en masse from surging tidal waves.  As of the moment, we have yet to account for some of our party members, including the leader of the city’s federation of tricycle drivers and operators.  Another member, a newly-elected village official in another town of Southern Leyte, is still without contact.  We just keep on hoping that they have survived the wrath of Haiyan.  There is also little information on Eastern Samar towns where Haiyan made its first land fall from the Pacific. 

Massive loss of lives and destruction is indeed beyond words to describe.  The death toll is surely to climb up when actual rescue and retrieval operations reach the isolated areas.  National and international aid are coming in but there will be definitely a catastrophic scarcity on most of essential needs such as food, water, power, housing and medicines as the national and local governments were caught unprepared to deal with the colossal impact of Haiyan.  And we still have four or five more typhoons coming within this year, according to official weather forecasts.

The poor suffers the most

It is the poor, the army of low-income, unemployed and underemployed people, who suffer the most in every disaster.  It is because they lack the means to protect themselves during calamities and the ability to survive and recover thereafter.  Most of the poor, both in rural and urban areas, live in hazard zones (slums, riverbanks, creeks, coastlines, mountain slopes) which are prone to both natural and man-made disasters.  Their houses are made of light materials just enough to cover them from sunshine and rains and not for surging floods, landslides, or tidal waves.  Moreover, the country’s biggest employer, the agriculture sector, is also first to suffer from the impact of both La Niña (floods) and El Niño (long drought) which are now the common phenomenon due to climate change, endangering further the country’s food security and employment opportunities.

Regrettably the poor don’t even know why nature is so unkind to people, most especially to them.  They have not been informed that today’s wrath of nature is more man-made rather than which they usually consider as natural phenomenon.  They have yet to understand that it was capitalism that exploited and destroyed this planet beyond its limits, creating in effect a destructive fusion of economic, social and climate crisis.

Philippines getting nature’s wrath

The Philippines has the highest stake and the strongest case to bring before the on-going United Nation’s Climate talks in Warsaw, Poland.  Previous climate talks produced nothing as the process is dominated by developed countries which are known for committing something yet doing nothing.  The timing is indeed ‘tragically ironic’, one writer has pointed out.  The 19th Conference of Parties (COP) in Poland opened right after the Philippines was hit by the Earth’s strongest typhoon in recent history, leaving thousands of dead from more than four million people who suffered from what scientists consider as a monster storm.

We welcome all international aid and solidarity work coming from Northern countries.  This is the least they could do – put their one cent to climate emergencies such as the Philippines.  But we demand more.  We want climate justice.  Capitalist countries must be held accountable for climate crisis.  They must be forced to pay the climate debt they owe to poor nations. 

Capitalist countries, we emphasize, were responsible for climate crisis.  They emit more carbon to the atmosphere many times over what the poor countries do. It is the greenhouse gases emitted from capitalist industries which drove global temperature to rise to new levels.  This causes climactic reactions like warmer and rising sea levels and which eventually lead to the formation of monster typhoons as in the case of Haiyan.

For over a century, capitalists profited from nature by monetizing it rather than in protecting its rich natural resource.  And it is the poor people and poor nations who suffer the most from the climate crisis created by rich nations.  The Philippines is among the topmost vulnerable countries.  In fact we have suffered enough from devastating typhoons such as Frank (Fengshen, 2008), Ondoy (Ketsana, 2009), Sendong (Washi, 2011), Pablo (Bopha, 2012), and now Yolanda (Haiyan, 2013).  The worst may yet to come.

State of corruption and free market

What makes the crisis more devastating is that Haiyan struck the Philippines when Filipinos are still reeling from recent earthquake that killed hundreds of people.  The monster storm also came when Filipinos are fighting massive corruption scandals involving huge amount of public service funds.  Corruption in the Philippines reduces the ability of both the national and local governments to respond to climate emergencies of this magnitude as billions of public funds are lost to official scams.

But more than that, the ruling class’ full embrace of free market ideology since the 80’s made poor people more vulnerable to present realities.  They therefore are equally responsible and must be held accountable for the peoples’ miserable condition. Neoliberalism made government rely completely on the private sector in creating employment.  Public services such as water and power were privatized.  Prices of goods and services were deregulated.  These resulted to massive unemployment and underemployment (close to 30%).  Social infrastructure and services are in poor state.  Poverty incidence remains at 28 per cent while hunger incidence affects 19 per cent of the population.

Just imagine this number of poor people living in one of the country’s poorest regions facing the wrath of super-typhoons. The post-Haiyan images would speak more of their miserable situation.  They really are in dire need of immediate aid and rehabilitation. Many have already resorted to confiscations of available supplies in several stores and malls. We consider those as justified actions and much better if collectively organized to isolate criminal elements and individual push for survival. Where the government fails, the people should collectively rise up.

We therefore warn the government to avoid using force against our helpless people.  The people need food, water and homes to stay, not a police force to quell their spirit to survive.  In the first place, a government that fails to eradicate high level corruption has no justifiable reason to use force in supressing the peoples’ desperate struggle for life.

Appeal for Solidarity with Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan Victims:

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Workers dare Napoles: Be “Mother of all whistleblowers”

Press Release
November 7, 2013

The Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) asked the alleged mastermind of the pork barrel scam, Janet Lim-Napoles, to “name names” and “tell all” as hundreds of workers picketed the Senate grounds in time for the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing today.

“Workers call on Napoles to turn a new page in her life. Instead of invoking her right to remain silent or repeating evasive answers, she should name names and tell all about the pork barrel scam. Napoles can still turn from being the “pork barrel queen’ to being the ‘mother of all whistleblowers,’” averred Wilson Fortaleza, PM spokesperson.

Several hundred members of workers groups under the labor unity coalition Nagkaisa assembled at the Film Center and then trooped to the Senate grounds to air their demands on the pork barrel issue. Nagkaisa, which includes PM and the Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA), are pushing for the abolition of the pork barrel and its reallocation to universal social protection such as health care, unemployment insurance and public employment.

“We are also calling for people’s participation in the budget process not just as watchdog but also as stakeholder. Workers in particular demand a ‘full employment budget,’ meaning government policies, programs and projects be focused on generating jobs for all Filipinos,” declared Fortaleza.

The workers picket at the Senate today is just the start of a series of activities to highlight Nagkaisa’s demands for the abolition of the pork barrel and the creation of a full employment budget. On November 23, hundreds of labor leaders from some 40 workers groups and institutions will assemble to affirm labor’s position on the pork barrel, job security, wage increase and power rates. The culmination is a big mobilization on November 30 in which call for the reallocation of the pork barrel to social services will be among the central demands.

Fortaleza announced that “Workers will celebrate in the streets the 150th birth anniversary of Andres Bonifacio on November 30 in continuation of his historic struggle for national liberation and social emancipation.”

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Solidarity Message to the Seoul National University Hospital workers

We extend the hand of solidarity to our brothers and sisters who are working at Seoul National University Hospital (SNUH) and fighting for decent pay, better working conditions and protection of job security. The struggles you are waging mirror the same demands that fellow workers are currently fighting for at Philippine Airlines, the flag carrier of our country.

The Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA) and the Partido ng Manggagawa (Labor Party-Philippines) support the strike of the SNUH union chapter of the KPTU Health Workers Solidarity Division. In the face of intransigence by management, only industrial action can force employers to heed the demands of workers. We condemn the SNUH management to slash labor costs, undercut labor standards, weaken job security and lower quality health service.

The same issues animate the struggles that PALEA is waging. Some 2,400 PALEA members were locked out and terminated as part of a plan to outsource the airport services, in-flight catering and call center reservations departments of Philippine Airlines to so-called service providers. The outsourcing plan sought not just to demolish job security but bust the union itself.

To resist the imminent implementation of the outsourcing plan, on September 27, 2011 PALEA undertook a protest at the Manila International Airport that paralyzed the operations of Philippine Airlines. The swift answer of the government and management was the forcible eviction of protesting PALEA members from the airport and other offices using police forces and security guards. For more than two years now, PALEA has maintained protest camps outside the international airports of Manila and Cebu, the two biggest cities in the Philippines.

Through the determined resistance of PALEA members and the solidarity of the workers movement in our country and even abroad, the new management of Philippine Airlines management was forced to negotiate. At present a settlement is near at hand that includes the return of retrenched PALEA workers back to their regular jobs.

We pledge to publicize the struggle of SNUH workers within our union membership and among the groups in the Philippines and abroad that have been part of the PALEA solidarity movement.

November 2, 2013