Monday, November 4, 2019

Labor demands tripartite investigation over raids and mass arrests in Bacolod

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The country’s biggest labor coalition, Nagkaisa!, is demanding a tripartite investigation over the simultaneous raids and mass arrests conducted by security forces Thursday night against members of militant labor and women groups in Bacolod City to protect workers’ right to self organization. 

“We won’t let this assault on freedom pass without demanding accountability from authorities who ordered these Gestapo-style raids. We also want to send notice to the government that labor organizations in the country are jointly opposed to this kind of highhanded approach in dealing with legitimate sectoral organizations,”said Nagkaisa! in a statement sent to media. 

Some 57 people were arrested during the simultaneous raids conducted by a joint military and police forces against the Kilusang Mayor Uno, National Federation of Sugar Workers and Gabriela offices in the cities of Bacolod and Escalante in Negros last Thursday night. Cases of illegal possession of firearms and explosives were filed against those who were arrested, a charge vehemently denied by said groups. 

Nagkaisa! is pointing out that while the raids and mass arrests were carried out by virtue of a search warrant issued in Quezon City, it believes that this legality is eclipsed by the repressive character attending it which is common only under authoritarian rule.

The least that could have been done by security forces, the group said is to coordinate with labor department under the spirit of the Guideline on the conduct of the DOLE, DILG, DND, DOJ, AFP and PNP relative to the exercise of Workers’ Right and Activity.

“We envisage further that there’s more to this than meets the eye. Its chilling effect was obvious as they happen at a time the democratic spaces in the country were shrinking fast, including, among others, the systematic repression of trade union rights and the employment of violence against trade union organizers. We therefore demand a stop to the institutionalization of these draconian measures,” stated Nagkaisa! 

Labor groups were deeply concerned that the labor department’s ineffective response against trade union killings and red-tagging has emboldened our security forces to step up its brazen campaign against organized labor. 

“Thus we urge Secretary Silvestre Bello to step in, form a tripartite body and remind the military and security forces that DOLE has the prerogative in dealing with organized labor,” Nagkaisa said. 
Nagkaisa! is also urging the government to invite the ILO High Level Mission to visit the country the soonest time possible. 

The group finally reminded the government that the labor movement will always come to the defence of freedom and human rights as it values the union principle ‘an injury to one is an injury to all’. 

“An assault against a part of the labor movement, therefore, is an attack against the whole movement,” concluded Nagkaisa!

03 November 2019 

Friday, November 1, 2019

Cavite garments workers to spend Undas at the picketline

Workers of a garments factory in the First Cavite Industrial Estate in Dasmarinas, Cavite will be spending undas at the picketlines instead of the graves of their departed love ones. The dispute between workers and management of Sejung Apparel Inc. is on its third week.

A hearing at the National Conciliation and Mediation Board ended last Wednesday without any agreement between the union and management. The union is demanding the reopening of the factory and the return to work of all employees.

The workers started their picket protest last October 14 after management locked out them out. The lockout happened just a week after the union submitted a proposal for a collective bargaining agreement.

“This is not the first time and unfortunately not the last time that a recently unionized factory suddenly closed down. This is the action of last resort by management in order to bust and avoid unions. We have seen this happen with the Faremo garments factory at the Cavite Economic Zone in 2016 and the Cebu Nisico electronics firm at the Mactan Economic Zone in 2017,” stated Rene Magtubo, national chair of Partido Manggagawa (PM).

Josephine Odchimar, union president, lamented that the freedom to unionize are dead in the ecozones. Tonight, workers staying at the picketline plan to light candles in memory of their dead family members but also in protest at the death of labor rights in the country.

Odchimar vowed that the union will continue the picket protest until workers are allowed back to work. She also called on the administration of the First Cavite Industrial Estate to respect the right of workers to protest in compliance with the DOLE-PEZA-PNP guidelines of 2011 and 2012. These guidelines on the right of workers to protest and strike in the ecozones were enacted in the wake of a high level mission by the ILO in 2009.

PM has been assisting export zone workers in Cavite and Cebu in their bid to improve wages and working conditions. “We call on the DOLE and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) to intervene as this is a clear case of violation of the freedom of association (FOA). While the dialogue between labor groups, DOLE and PEZA about ensuring respect for freedom of association has been much delayed, union busting complaints like that in Sejung are happening with no action from government institutions. This is among the reasons the International Labour Organization last June resolved to investigate the government’s enforcement of Conventions 87 and 98 about freedom of association and collective bargaining respectively,” Magtubo explained. ###

November 1, 2019