Friday, January 24, 2020

Labor group slam PNP for anti-union stations at ecozones, call on DOLE to enforce FOA

NO TO MILITANT LABOR. Police and economic zone offiicals – led by PNP chief Lieutenant General Archie Gamboa, Brigadier General Rhodel Sermonia, PEZA Director Charito Plaza, and Secretary Carlito Galvez at  the launch of JIPCO at Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga. Photo courtesy of PRO3 PIO
PNP, PEZA announce ecozone militarization. Photo by Rappler

The Philippine National Police (PNP), including its commander-in-chief, the President, cannot infringe on the right of workers to form unions. Doing so will be a clear violation of the Constitution, the Labor Code and international conventions that guarantee freedom of association (FOA), the labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM) said in a statement sent to media.

The reaction came after the PNP regional office in Central Luzon on Friday launched the Joint Industrial Peace and Concern Office (JIPCO) in the Clark Freeport Zone that will serve, according to Central Luzon police chief Brigadier General Rhodel Sermonia, as “the first line of defense from radical labor infiltration of the labor force and the industrial zones.”

The launching had as guest speakers, presidential adviser on the peace process Secretary Carlito Galvez, newly installed Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Archie Francisco Gamboa, and Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) Director Charito Plaza.

PM, a member of the country’s biggest labor coalition Nagkaisa!, demanded that the PNP, PEZA and OPA withdraw the program and for DOLE to enforce labor laws in ecozones, educate officials of the bureaucracy and security forces on labor rights, and prosecute the violators whether they are state officials or owners of capital.

“These officials were appointed to their offices to promote and defend the Constitution. But the launching of JIPCO is very clear on its purpose – to violate the Constitution. Therefore under the context of ecozones, it is clearly the first line of defense of foreign capital and not of the labor force,” lamented PM chair Renato Magtubo.

He added that “Even before the launching of JIPCO, ecozones in Central Luzon have been militarized. Soldiers and police harassed union leaders, sent threatening letters to labor organizers and held anti-union meeting with workers of the FCF Manufacturing Corp., a factory in the Freeport Area of Bataan that makes high-end leather bags.”

Magtubo reminded the PNP and PEZA that under the law, even employers who own the businesses and exercise direct control over their workforce are considered as mere bystanders, meaning they cannot interfere in labor activities, particularly on the right of workers to form unions as provided under the Bill of Rights and the Social Justice provisions of the Constitution.

“If these officials are ignorant of these basics on labor rights, then this Republic of Endos and cheap labor is really in a deep shit,” declared Magtubo who now sits as a city councilor of Marikina.

“In fact, Central Luzon in recent memory, is no longer a hotbed of insurgents but of ninja cops as shown during the Senate hearings. Contrary to the vicious propaganda peddled by security forces against trade unions, the Filipino workforce, especially in special economic zones or EPZAs, are defenseless not from insurgents but from intransigent anti-union foreign investors.  Indeed, the urgent need of workers inside ecozones are incorruptible labor offices or desks and not PNP detachments.” argued Magtubo.

“Militarization of ecozones is an escalation of the union busting efforts of PEZA. In other regions like Calabarzon and Cebu, PEZA has been conniving with foreign investors by temporarily closing down factories where workers have unionized. The most recent incident of this modus operandi is the closure of Sejung Apparel Inc. in the First Cavite Industrial Estate where workers are currently on protest,” Magtubo explained.

JIPCO, the group said, is hiding under the cover of peace building efforts but in reality it is a declaration of war against the trade union movement in the country. “We will not be cowed. We will continue to organize,” concluded Magtubo. 

24 January 2020

Friday, January 3, 2020

DOLE hit for inaction on violations of “Grinch” company in Cavite

The militant Partido Manggagawa (PM) hit the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for continued delay in enforcing the mandatory payment of the 13th month benefit for workers of a garments factory in Cavite. In a hearing yesterday at the provincial DOLE office in Trece Martirez, Cavite, officials gave the management of Sejung Apparel Inc. another 10 days to pay the 13th month benefit and the last salary due of workers.

“Christmas and New Year has come and gone but the DOLE still refuses to use its enforcement powers against a ‘Grinch’ company,” declared Rene Magtubo, PM national chair. Workers of Sejung in the First Cavite Industrial Estate have been on picket-protest since December 12.

“While DOLE officials in the national and regional offices enjoyed their holidays, Sejung workers had a sad Christmas and a bleak New Year since labor standards are not being enforced,” Magtubo insisted.

Josephine Odchimar, president of the labor union at Sejung, stated that DOLE conducted a factory inspection last December 19 and promised to issue an order if management did not release the 13th month pay on December 24 as mandated.

“Justice delayed is justice denied. What’s keeping the DOLE regional office from issuing a compliance order? Even during the mediation hearings, Sejung maintained its illegal and hardline stance that it will grant the 13th month pay in March not December. Yet the DOLE dare not lift a finger even as Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello issued press releases reminding employers about the payment of the 13th month benefit,” Magtubo averred.

Workers set up a picketline outside the factory to guard against machines being taken out of the factory and prevent a runaway shop. Sejung workers are also demanding a stop to the transfer of machines and an end to subcontracting of production. “The company’s argument of lack of buyers is just an alibi. The truth is that production is being subcontracted by Sejung to other companies,” Odchimar asserted.

Workers believe management is maneuvering to bust the union. The union won the certification elections in August. The company temporarily closed down in October, a week after the union submitted a proposal for a collective bargaining agreement. After a month, the company reopened.

“The pattern of companies inside ecozones shutting down to bust unions is well documented. It appears that Sejung is following this modus operandi of union busting,” Magtubo asserted.

January 3, 2020