Tuesday, April 28, 2015

No dialogue with PNoy on May 1 – labor coalition

27 April 2015

President Aquino has failed the workers during the last five years and nothing more can be expected from the remaining 14 months in office for this administration.  For this reason, Nagkaisa, the country’s largest coalition of trade union federations and labor organizations, is terminating its regular dialogue with the President being done every Labor Day since 2012.
“No more breakfast or luncheon meeting with the President this coming May 1. The last three years of engagement satisfied the form but produced no substance,” declared Nagkaisa in a press conference held Monday in Manila
On Labor Day the group will rather concentrate all its forces for the big March to Malacanang to seek justice for the 40 million workers whose fight for jobs and job security, living wage, trade union rights and decent working and living conditions remain unheeded.  A cry for justice, which they say, will extend until the next regimes.
Women leaders who composed Nagkaisa’s main panel for the press conference shared the group’s general assessment of the Aquino administration that was held the other day and declared “walang naituwid at walang naitawid” during PNoy’s five years in office.
Open doors but close minds
Nagkaisa said that since 2012, the group has sincerely pursued dialogues with the Palace, hoping that issues brought directly to the President might speed up the resolution of age-old problems besetting labor. 
“We have proven otherwise that while the Palace doors are open for dialogue, the people in power inside maintains a close mind with regard to proposed changes on policies being pursued by labor,” explained the group.
These include Nagkaisa’s demand for the President to certify as urgent the Security of Tenure bill to address the plague of contractualization that destroys job security and union rights. 
The Palace played deaf on this demand while maintaining a ‘kid gloves’ policy in dealing with big companies as well as the proliferation of manpower agencies and cooperatives involved in outsourcing and labor-only contracting activities.
Starvation wages
The government has also failed to raise workers’ wages from the barest minimum despite record growth in the economy.
“The combined wealth of the country’s richest businessmen has grown by ten-fold yet workers’ wages remained at starvation levels,” said Nagkaisa.
The real value of the NCR minimum wage of P466 is P354 only while a family of five need more than a thousand pesos living wage to enjoy a decent life.
Nagkaisa likewise demanded a reduction in power rates with concrete proposals on how to do it.  But Malacanang stood powerless in the face of private power. Had the Supreme Court not issued a TRO for the P4/kWh spike in prices last year, the Philippines could have stolen the record of having the highest electricity rates in the world.
City lands for developers
The Aquino government has adopted a program for socialized housing that entertains housing projects through a “people’s proposal”.  But Nagkaisa said the program is very selective and limited while most of city lands were appropriated not for socialized housing but for the real estate business of giant land developers.
Urban development are not for the urban poor but virtually a fight between the Ayalas, Henry Sy, Lucio Tan, Gokongwei, Andrew Tan, Consunji, George Ty and Manny Villar.
Mary Jane
According to Nagkaisa, the sad fate of Mary Jane Veloso represents an individual tragedy resulting from the country’s chronic unemployment problem. 
“Her story is an added statistics to the long list of OFWs who braved the challenges of foreign lands in search for jobs but suffered tragic ends either from the cruel hands of employers or from the treacherous hands of organized syndicates or get caught in between wars of conflict,” said Nagkaisa.
There is no dramatic change in the unemployment rate under PNoy, said Nagkaisa. In fact, the unemployment rate of 7.5% in 2014 is higher than the unemployment rates of 5.2% in 1976, 6.7% in 1986, and 7.3% when PNoy assumed office in 2010.
Unemployment is also highest among youth (52% in SWS survey) while participation rate of women in the labor force remained flat for half of its population of 15 years and above.
Poor state, high prices of goods and services
Besides problems of unemployment and precarious working conditions, the poor state and high prices of basic goods and services such as power and water, transportation, healthcare and education weigh heavily on the lives of millions of workers.

And in the face of this generalized condition of the toiling masses, Nagkaisa said the only thing the Aquino administration can do for the workers is to mobilize its powers in organizing nationwide job fairs on Labor Day.

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