Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Napolist, club of multi-millionaires in gov’t signs of systemic disorder – PM

29 May 2014
The list of government officials implicated in the Napolist and a club of multi-millionaires occupying the highest positions of power in government are signs of a serious systemic disorder afflicting Philippine society, the labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) said in a statement.
“Kleptocracy and the rule of the elite minority in a democracy are systemic wrongs. This form of rule will never bring this country to prosperity and inclusiveness,” said PM Chair Renato Magtubo.
The group was referring to the list of 120 legislators and several cabinet officials implicated by Janet Lim Napoles in her expanded affidavit and the published list of multi-millionaires both in the legislative and executive branches of government based on the 2013 submission of their Statement of Assets Liabilities and Networth (SALN). 
The 2013 SALN again showed that the entire government is absolutely under the exclusive rule of multi-millionaires who represent a tiny minority in the country.
Magtubo, a former partylist representative, explained that this systemic disorder implies not a vague but a definite form of rule that marginalizes the majority of people, “since policy making cannot be separated from the class position of those who make the rules.”
This, he said, is the reason why strategic measures to curb the plague of contractualization and implementing the constitutional provision on living wage were never made an agenda of the past and present Congresses, while laws giving incentives to private corporations and foreign capital pass like bullet trains.
“PNoy can always mouth his vision of inclusive growth in every occasion until the end of his term in June 30, 2016.  But under this kind of rule, the road leading to that remain impassable,” said Magtubo.
PM said further that this problem is made worse by the reigning culture of kleptocracy when those in power exploit the national resources for their narrow interests.
The labor party stressed that the country needs radical political and economic reforms to save itself from total failure.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Workers not impressed by WEF’s wonderful stories

23 May 2014

What do unemployed, underpaid, and oppressed workers who dominate the labor market in Asia expect when business elites and their respective governments meet in an exclusive talk shop such as the ongoing World Economic Forum (WEF) in Manila? 
For the labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), Asia’s precariats will gain nothing from this process. 
“WEF is not about people. It’s all about corporations, their investments, and new market opportunities,” said PM Chair Renato Magtubo, asserting further that even if President Aquino gives praises on the role of ordinary Filipinos played in the country’s economic turnaround, the WEF’s business agenda will never change.
Magtubo said corporations did grow in Asia so as the number of billionaires in the region. Yet these growths remain jobless and highly unequal.
The Philippines, he added, “is not a fantastic story of economic miracle but an old testament to this kind of regional growth pattern where a handful of business elites control more than half the economy.”
Based on PM’s own study, the combined wealth (estimated at US$45.3-B) for the Philippines’ richest 10 is equal to the annual income of 21 million minimum wage earners. 
“The Philippine government cannot claim ‘inclusive growth’ until this ratio of inequality is effectively reversed,” stressed Magtubo.
Magtubo said further that if ever there will be mention of “people” at WEF’s grandiose workshops it won’t go beyond the context of market – open markets for corporate products and cut-price and flexible labor markets for their efficient operations.
“Thus the WEF cannot brag about wonders and miracles when Asia remains the biggest home to the world’s poorest people epitomized by workers in vulnerable employment,” lamented Magtubo.
The Asian region has the highest rate ofinformalization in the world.  As defined, informal workers are the own-account (self-employed) and unpaid family workers combined.  They also include workers in irregular (contractuals) or seasonal employment. 
Recently they have been labelled as precariats or workers living in precarious working conditions. The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimated the Asia-wide “vulnerable employment” in 2007 at 1.1 billion people or 62.2 percent of all workers in the region.  Informalization in the Philippines is estimated to be between 41 to 77 percent.
Meanwhile PM anticipates a big push for charter change after the WEF in Manila as foreign chamber of commerce, specifically that of the US and EU, have long been lobbying for the removal of economic restrictions imposed by our Constitution on foreign ownership. 
“A grand conspiracy for cha-cha, we believe, is underway with the President’s allies in Congress getting a silent imprimatur from Malacanang to proceed with their sinister move to pass the cha-cha resolution while everybody is distracted with the Napolists,” concluded Magtubo.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

In wake of Hanjin worker death: Union officers urged to be deputized as labor inspectors

Press Release
May 10, 2014

In response to a report that a Hanjin contractor has been punished for the death of another worker at the shipyard last May 2, the labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) called on the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to deputize union presidents and officers as labor inspectors in order to strengthen the enforcement of labor standards and safety rules. The DOLE in Central Luzon has issued a cease and desist order to Finback Corp. due to the accidental death of its employee, Ryan Gacus.

Renato Magtubo, PM national chair, reiterated the call that justice must be served the 37 workers who have died at the Hanjin shipyard. “Stopping the operation of Finback is just a first step. We will monitor what steps DOLE will do next to serve justice to Gacus. Aside from the responsibility of the principal employer Hanjin and its subcontractors to the laborers who have been killed at the shipyard-cum-graveyard, the government must make policy changes regarding enforcement of labor standards and occupational health and safety so that workers have not died in vain,” he stated.

Magtubo said that “The DOLE just has some 200 inspectors to cover around 800,000 establishments nationwide, thus in 2013 just around 40,000 enterprises were subjected to inspections, self-assessments and visits. The numbers can easily be increased several fold by deputizing union officers as labor inspectors. Even if just 10% of the 17,000 local union presidents are accredited, this is about 10 times the present number of inspectors.”

PM insists that by deputizing labor leaders, the number of inspections can be multiplied overnight, enforcement can be strengthened immediately, and workers lives and limbs can be saved as a result.

The group explained that DOLE already allows local government units to undertake technical safety inspections in order to complement its efforts and so there is no reason not to mobilize workers groups in labor enforcement. “All the DOLE has to do is train union president and officers in the labor inspection and enforcement process and then accredit them appropriately,” Magtubo added.

In the DOLE’s Labor Standards Enforcement Framework, unions with collective bargaining agreements are given a role in self-assessment for their enterprises. “If unions play a responsibility in ensuring labor standards and occupational safety in their own workplaces, it does not take a leap of logic to allow them a task in inspecting other enterprises,” Magtubo argued.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

PNoy dared to act on Hanjin deaths

Press Release
May 3, 2014

Just two days after the commemoration of Labor Day, the Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) challenged President Benigno Aquino III to uphold and protect workers rights at the giant Hanjin shipyard in Subic, Zambales as another worker died last May 1 in a workplace accident. “PNoy had once personally thanked Hanjin for its PhP24 billion investment. Now he should personally act on the 37th reported death at the shipyard,” insisted Renato Magtubo, PM chair.

Randy Gacos, 29, a fit-up welder at the shipbuilding facility of HanjinHeavy Industries and Construction Philippines Inc., suffered severe burns while working in the erection section of the shipyard on Wednesday and then died on Thursday night while being treated at a local hospital.

Magtubo added that “The Hanjin shipyard is a graveyard of workers. While capitalists are scrimping on protection for its work force and the government is sleeping on its job of enforcement, workers are dying in the workplace. Hanjin’s crooked path must be set straight by PNoy. Instead of beating war drums over the West Philippine Sea it is better that PNoy wage war for workers rights at Subic.”

“PALEA supports our brothers in Hanjin. From airlines to shipyards, contractualization is wrecking havoc on the working and living conditions of workers. The promotion of contractual employment is the policy of government as exposed by the Office of the President decision on outsourcing at Philippine Airlines. Of the 3,000 hired last Labor Day at the job fairs, we ask the Department of Labor, how many are for permanent positions and how many are for contractual employment? Ang laban ng manggagawa ng Hanjin ay laban ng PALEA,” exclaimed Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and PM vice chair.

Some 21,000 laborers work in the Hanjin shipyard but just a few hundred are claimed by the giant multinational as its employees since the rest are hired by 19 subcontractors.

PM also called for stronger labor enforcement and labor inspection reforms by the government in response to latest death at the Hanjinshipyard and the rampant contractualization at the shipyard. “Accidents are not acts of divine providence that can be dismissed as unavoidable. Instead accidents are the result of unsafe acts and therefore preventable by strict enforcement of occupational safety and health and labor standards,” Magtubo claimed.

He added that “PNoy’s government must review Hanjin and its contractors for compliance not just with safety regulations but labor standards such as payment of minimum wages and benefits, observance of working hours and remittance of social security among others. Construction workers are among the most overworked yet underpaid of employees since they are generally unorganized.”

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Zero is PNoy’s legacy to workers—labor group

Press Release
May 1, 2014

With two years to go into the administration, the Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) slammed President Benigno Aquino for the lack of a labor legacy. “For the last four Labor Day commemorations, workers have received nothing or zero from PNoy. Just like this Labor Day, workers will get no wage increase, not even non-wage benefits from government,” asserted Renato Magtubo, PM national chair.

“Even the job fairs that the Department of Labor and Employment is holding today are a labor legacy of Gloria Arroyo, not an original gimmick by PNoy. Of over 100,00 vacancies available at the job fairs, most are work formerly occupied by contractual workers who have become endo (end of contract),” Magtubo argued.

PM is participating in the 30,000-strong mobilization organized by the broad labor coalition Nagkaisa which unites more than 40 labor centers, federations and organizations in the country. After assembling all along the length of Espana, Manila, Nagkaisa will march to Mendiola for organized labor’s commemoration of May Day.

Magtubo said that “Without a labor legacy, PNoy’s tuwid na daan is a meaningless journey for workers and the poor. Just to cite yesterday’s dialogue with labor leaders, PNoy did not provide anything concrete except the promise to continue talking. In other words, PNoy made no commitments to the demands for tax breaks, lower electricity rates and the security of tenure bill despite being items on the table for the past two years since Labor Day of 2012.”

PM is lambasting the Aquino administration for the worsening inequality in the country despite consistent economic growth as measured in GDP increase. “While the administration pays lip service to inclusive growth, unemployment and underemployment remains unchanged because of cheap labor policy, regulations allowing rampant contractualization, labor repression, and the preference to foreign investments and public-private partnership,” Magtubo explained.

PM is calling for the establishment of an agro-industrial policy that will strengthen local agriculture and industry as the basis for the robust growth of decent jobs that will provide regular work and living wages. “Workers demand for an agro-industrial policy has fallen on deaf ears since administration finance and economic officials argue dogmatically that the state’s only economic role is to encourage workers and the poor to become micro entrepreneurs. This despite the fact that the failure rate of SME’s is more than 90%,” Magtubo ended.