Thursday, June 25, 2020

Sports City workers’ demands to Adidas and other brands

Workers of the Adidas supplier Sports City conglomerate are asking the brand to mediate in their urgent demands in the light of the grave impact of the covid pandemic on their working and living conditions. Sports City’s factories are located in the Mactan Cebu Economic Zone, employ some 16,000 workers and at present manufactures for Adidas, Under Armour, Lululemon and Saucony. The conglomerate is mainly comprised of Mactan Apparel, Metrowear, Feeder Apparel, Global Manufacturing, Vertex One and Global Warehouse.

1.       Aid

Conversion of PhP 2,000 loan provided by Sports City into a grant and additional PhP 2,000 subsidy to workers. This will provide relief to workers who have become indebted due to the no work, no pay policy during the two-month lockdown. The 5 kilos of rice and several pieces of canned goods given at the start of the lockdown was an advance on the Christmas package. Thus Sports City has really extended assistance that it will not charge to workers’ existing benefits. But aid is urgently needed as until now a large number of Sports City workers are not working as the factory is not in full operation. Further some 80% of Sports City workers did not receive any assistance from government.

2.       Safety committee

Formation of a safety committee as provided for in the law with the mandate to ensure workers’ voice in the enforcement of occupational health and safety rules. The recent controversy in which the company threatened an anonymous worker with legal action reveals that lack of transparency naturally breeds issues. The anonymous worker made a post about two Sports City workers who returned to work but was found infected with covid.

3.       Production order

Commitment by Adidas to maintain production orders in Sports City to ensure jobs for workers. Workers of Mactan apparel are presently on rotation while Metrowear workers will on rotation starting in July. Workers in Global Wear Warehouse had been told that Adidas wants to relocate production to Cambodia allegedly because of less disruption due to covid. Workers will view any relocation of order by Adidas as condoning union busting by the Sports City.

4.       Freedom of association

The provision about Sports City respecting freedom of association in compliance with brand commitment has been deleted in the latest copy of the company rules and regulations (CRR). The statement of respect for FOA was previously included in the CRR distributed to all workers. Workers view this as a union busting maneuver by Sports City.

25 June 2020

Friday, June 19, 2020

DOLE asked to call labor,employers to dialogue on layoffs in airlines, other sectors

Baggage in the Airline Industry is a Good Stepping Stone into the Industry

The labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM) called on the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to convene conferences between the airline industry and union or worker representatives to formulate measures to preserve jobs. “Mass layoffs should be the last resort of employers and government must pro-actively act to prevent it. Unemployment is a real terror to workers than any threat from terrorist groups,” asserted Rene Magtubo, PM national chair.

He added that “DOLE, hoy gising, di pwedeng natutulog sa pansitan. DOLE cannot be a bystander looking at unemployment figures rise and content with asking employers to report retrenchments—which is what the agency is doing at the moment.”

PM is asking DOLE to immediately hold labor-industry dialogues in the airlines industry and other sectors where jobs are being shed. The group reports that factories in export processing zones are preparing to permanently or temporarily lay off workers in the next few weeks allegedly due to reduced orders from abroad. Expressway workers are also on the chopping block as toll operations are transitioning to cashless mode and will be fully automated.

“In these tripartite dialogues, various measures can be tabled for agreement. For example, as the economy is gradually opened then workers can return to work in batches and those not reporting for work shall be put in a labor pool instead of being retrenched. While in the labor pool, these workers shall receive aid from government and employers. After six months, employers can then decide if these workers will be retained or fired,” Magtubo explained.

The group also demands that government formulate emergency employment measures and expand unemployment insurance programs through tripartite dialogue. PM is appealing to Congress to revise the proposed stimulus bill so that aid to business is conditional on a no layoff, no endo commitment.

“MSME’s that will receive support from government should retain workers and make them regular. Taxpayer’s money should incentivize compliance with decent work and the new normal must be built on inclusive growth. Workers first in the new normal,” Magtubo insisted.

June 19, 2020

Friday, June 5, 2020

‘Terrorizing’ unemployment numbers say it all

The surge in the April unemployment numbers say it all. This unprecedented 17.7% unemployment rate is directly the outcome of the combined health and economic crises and the lackluster response from the government.

The coming months can only be hoped to be better or worse, depending on how the government will conduct its work. To us, the present crises require a major reboot and system upgrade as old devices will simply not work.

The April unemployment data show that a whopping 71% or 29.7 million out of 41.8 million labor force are collectively in a bind amid this pandemic. They are composed of 7.3 million unemployed, the 38.4% employed but not working Filipinos or equivalent to 13 million, and underemployed numbering 6.4 million. 

The urgent agenda therefore for this government is normalization in the minimum and a better normal for the maximum.

Again, the railroaded terror bill will never suit  any of the strategy for the minimum and maximum agenda of restoring lost wages and creating more jobs, universal social protection, and most importantly, participation in crafting a new economic paradigm as normalization will simply bring the workers back to the endo nation.

Ang kailangan ng manggagawa ay tulong hindi kulong; union hindi represyon; regular na trabaho hindi endo; ayuda hindi diktadura.

05 June 2020

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Terror bill bumps off economic stimulus as a priority of Duterte administration – labor group

Yesterday’s railroading in Congress of the anti-terrorism bill ahead of stimulus packages pending before it is the latest manifestation of the Duterte administration’s misplaced priorities. It clearly showed that its hunger for extrajudicial authoritarian powers have become more urgent in this time of pandemic than its resolve to organize a massive recovery plan in preventing the economy and our people from sliding further into a deep recession and extreme poverty.

In short, the Duterte government is more inclined to becoming a reckless dictator during this period rather than a sensible marshal of a better normal.

In the Senate where the original Senate Bill 1083 (terror bill) came from, a measly P140B stimulus package was approved on second reading yesterday. This amount is way, way below the needed stimulus to shape new economic pathways and in shielding our workers from losing their jobs and incomes. The House has a P1.3T stimulus proposal, but it has come to our knowledge that the administration will never approve a stimulus package higher than P130B. Now we already have a preview of where this country is heading to.

Then why did a terror bill that has gotten out of the store was picked quickly by Congress like an instant noodle? There is no terrorist menace surrounding our country right now to press a panic button. What we have is chronic poverty made worse by the pandemic and the widespread sense of helplessness at home, in the streets, and in workplaces.

Moreover, the Filipino people have never demanded a terror bill as a solution to their plight. And under the present condition, their main concerns remain to be #AyudangSapatParaSaLahat and #BalikTrabahongLigtas, and of course a clear road map for a better normal.

In short, only those who are in power are interested in gaining more power that is totally useless in the war against the pandemic and the deepening economic crisis.

04 June 2020

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

More chaos if DepEd and ChEd open classes unprepared as DOLE and DoTr

Litrato ni Partido Manggagawa.

The labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM) expressed fear that the August opening of classes can be more chaotic if the Department of Education (DepEd) comes unprepared as the Department of Transportation (DoTr) and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

The start of General Community Quarantine (GCQ) regime was marred by chaos and confusion yesterday when DoTr implemented a mad experiment of denying safe and adequate mass transport system for thousands of workers who are called back to work by their employers. DOLE for its part failed to make provision of shuttle services mandatory to employers.

The group lambasted the government for the chaotic Monday that exposed thousands of workers to health and occupational hazards while those who failed to report to work were denied the much-needed income.

“Naniniwala kami sa kapasidad ni Sec. Liling Briones na ihanda ang pasukan pero kung ang hambog na si Tugade kung saan bilib na bilib ang Pangulo ay lumagapak sa malaking kapalpakan sa unang araw ng pasukan ng manggagawa, magiging delikado rin sa mga bata kung ang DepEd ay hindi masusuportahan ng maayos ng iba pang mga ahensya ng pamahalaan,” said PM Secretary General Judy Ann Miranda.

Miranda said the government may consider adjusting the calendar of School Year 2020 – 2021, now that the Senate is giving the President the power to adjust the school calendar.

“A new schedule will give the DepEd, teachers, parents and children more time to prepare for the blended modalities while the Department of Health (DoH) and health experts gather data and assess the impact of GCQ activities in the spread of Covid-19 virus,” explained Miranda.

The group presumes that a face-to-face mode will remain the dominant learning modality in schools as online and other distant learning modalities will be challenged by digital divide and readiness issues both for the public and private schools. If that becomes the norm, a multitude of workers and students out in the streets will make the GCQ regime more chaotic and unsafe.

“Mas nakaka-terrorize and ganyang sitwasyon kaysa sa kinatatakutang terorismo ng estado sa minamadaling anti-terror law,” added Miranda, referring to the proposed stronger version of anti-terrorism law that is being certified as urgent by President Duterte.

Partido Manggagawa also called on the government to come to the rescue of private schools to avoid mass layoffs of teaching and non-teaching personnel whose jobs and wages are dependent on the number of enrollees. “The government must consider a stimulus plan for them,” said Miranda.

PM received reports that teachers in many private schools will face reduced teaching loads while those in danger of shutting down has already started with their termination procedures.

2 June 2020

Justice for slain union organizer on his first death anniversary—labor group

The labor group Partido Manggagawa reiterated its call for justice for its union organizer who was brutally murdered last year. Dennis Sequeña, Cavite provincial chair of Partido Manggagawa (PM) and veteran labor organizer of ecozone workers, was shot and killed in June 2, 2019 while facilitating a union seminar among workers in the Cavite Economic Zone.

“On the occasion of the first death anniversary of Ka Dennis, we call the attention of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) that justice has not been served and his unidentified killers are still at large. The unsolved murder of Ka Dennis highlights the new normal of impunity characterized by killings of rights defenders, double standard in the enforcement of lockdown rules, restriction of civil liberties and the looming danger of the anti-terror bill,” stated Rene Magtubo, PM national chair.

The murder of Sequeña was immediately condemned by local and international labor groups and led to a recommendation at the International Labor Organization conference in June 2019 for a high level mission to be sent to the country to investigate the killings of unionists and violations of freedom of association. Later the Technical Executive Committee of the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council made a determination that Sequeña’s killing was extra-judicial and thus was under the purview of Administrative Order 35 (AO 35). In August 2019 the DOJ, as lead agency of AO 35, announced that a special investigative team was formed to probe the killing.

“We thus ask both the DOJ and DOLE: what is the status of the probe on the murder of Ka Dennis? Neither the family nor our organization has been updated of any development,” declared Magtubo.

He added that, “Relatedly, we also call on the DOLE to convene the technical working group for the review of the guidelines on the conduct of PNP, AFP and other security forces during labor disputes and the exercise of the freedom of association in the ecozones, the advocacy for which Ka Dennis gave his life for. The DOLE cannot make covid an excuse for inaction. On the contrary, a workers’ picketline in an ecozone in Cavite was dispersed using the lockdown as an alibi. Two workers of Sejung Apparel in the First Cavite Industrial Estate were threatened with arrest on Black Friday night, April 19, by Dasmarinas police, who refused to identify themselves, for alleging violating the curfew rules since they were manning the picketline.”

“Justice for Dennis also means justice for all workers. We ask the DOLE to investigate the dispersal of the Sejung picketline and for the reopening of the garments factory to produce much needed face masks not only to provide employment to the jobless workers and but also assist in the covid response,” Magtubo proposed.

June 2, 2020

Monday, June 1, 2020

End the madness of transport policy during GCQ! Nagkaisa bats for safe and free public transportation!

Nagkaisa assailed the national government, particularly the DOTr and the MMDA, for its massive failure to provide adequate public transportation on the first day of GCQ in Metro Manila.

Nagkaisa is highly disappointed with DOTr for its failure to perform its primary mandate to provide "efficient, and dependable transportation systems.” Chaos and confusion now reigns in the streets of Metro Manila as hundreds of thousands of workers scramble to get to work.

Contrary to MMDA’s arrogant claims of its full readiness for June 1, physical distancing was completely compromised as commuters waited for transport services. For many, the wait was in vain as the MMDA did not provide bus stops from Quezon Ave to Ayala Ave.

In its mad rush to jump start a stalled economy without due consideration to the safety and welfare of workers, the national government has once again succeeded in heaping more unnecessary burdens to the working class.

Worst, with this transport fiasco, the DOTr and the MMDA risks wasting all the sacrifices forced on everyone for more than 2 months of lockdown to stop Covid-19.

Nagkaisa believes that all these could have been avoided had the national government provided “safe and free” transportation by implementing service contracting of PUVs that could have augmented the limited public transportation that we have.

Proposed by Move As One coalition, service contracting of PUVs would not only ensure adequate public transportation in areas under the general community quarantine (GCQ), but also protect thousands of transport workers as they earn much needed livelihood.

Nagkaisa and its affiliates are members of the We Move As One coalition.

Under service contracting, the government pays the operators and drivers to run pre-determined routes to ferry workers. This is far different from the prevailing “boundary system,” in which earnings are based on the number of passengers ferried.

Nagkaisa calls on the DOTr,  the MMDA and the national government to immediately address this dangerous situation or risk worsening the continuous rise in Covid-19 cases!

1 June 2020