Tuesday, August 2, 2022

DOLE asked to issue order on riders’ employment status

The motorcycle riders’ rights group Kapatiran sa Dalawang Gulong (Kagulong) called on the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to issue an order on the employment status of app-based riders in the light of the recent decision by a National Labor Relation Commission (NLRC) arbiter. The arbiter ruled that seven Foodpanda riders based in Davao were regular employees of the app and found the company guilty of illegal dismissal. The labor case stemmed from the suspension by the app for 10 years of 43 Foodpanda riders who planned in July 2021 a “log-off” protest over low pay.


“This is a landmark decision in clarifying the employee-employer relationship of app riders. We urge the DOLE to settle the issue by issuing an order based on this decision. It is long overdue,” insisted Don Pangan, Kagulong secretary general.


He added that We are also calling on the DOLE to deliver its commitment to convene the Technical Working Group involving rider’s groups, trade unions, worker’s organizations and concerned government agencies as agreed upon the tripartite consultations convened in the build up to Labor Day 2021.”


Kagulong had long advocated for recognizing app riders as employees so they can enjoy the protection of labor standards and rights, including social protection and job security. The group earlier criticized the Labor Advisory 14-21 issued by the DOLE in July 2021 that did not resolve the dispute. The Labor Advisory was issued in the wake of the Davao Foodpanda labor row and other disputes involving app riders.


In November 2020, Kagulong led some 700 Foodpanda riders in a protest action at the DOLE national office to seek resolution of their grievances over reduced pay and unsafe conditions DOLE officials who met leaders of Kagulong and the Metro Manila Foodpanda riders promised to act on the complaint.


The Foodpanda protests in Davao and Manila correlate with a global study (http://library.fes.de/pdf-files/iez/16880.pdf), which found out that food delivery riders launched the greatest number of protests among app or platform workers. The most prominent grievance concerned pay although employment status also figured as a secondary issue. In Asian countries such as Indonesia and India, gig workers have formed associations or unions. Similar organizing and struggles by food delivery riders in Europe, Australia and Latin America was also revealed in the study. 


August 2, 2022

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

SONA: Full of sound and some fury but signifying nothing

The SONA was a belated miting de avance speech in which Bongbong’s platform of government was finally revealed. In the speech were lists of promises that he should have discussed during his campaign but he never did. There is nothing in the speech that portrays the real state of the nation.


Worst, no decisive plan to address inflation that is affecting the lives of the poor and ordinary workers. Neither aid nor wage increase can be expected in the near future to tide workers and their families during these difficult times.


Likewise, rampant contractualization of labor and violation of labor rights including red-tagging of union leaders and organizers were not addressed in the speech.


The speech was primarily intended for legislators, investors and foreign diplomats, not at all for the vast majority of the working people.


The State of the Nation, Marcos declared, is sound. But it was deafeningly quiet on wages, endo, and full employment.


It targeted a 9% poverty incidence and upper middle-income status of the country by the end of his term. But there was no mention if living wage and full employment are going to be addressed to make it happen.


It was strong on food security, but no mention of reversing import liberalization policy, including rice tariffication.


There will be a rightsizing program in government. But there was no diet plan for fat bosses in the government who enjoy pork and perks. In short, very silent on corruption.


There was also no explanation on whether funds are available to support his program. No mention of a wealth tax.


SONA was silent on the bloody war on drugs. But there was also no mention of improving the country's human rights situation.


Tough talk on climate and renewable energy. Unfortunately, the plans include nuclear power.


Plans for pandemic response were not so clear, even contradictory with his 'no more lockdown' policy yet maintaining the present alert level system.


Labor export policy remains, only that it will have an active repatriation program.


Except for a continuation of Duterte railway projects, no mention of the life of transport workers and the riding community.


In conclusion, there is no immediate relief against high prices and unemployment/underemployment problems. No major policy reforms.


BBM's SONA, in short, was simply a wish list of platforms that we should have heard during the election campaign. 

Ka Rene Magtubo

spokesperson of Nagkaisa Labor Coalition and Chairman of Partido Manggagawa

26 July 2022

Monday, July 25, 2022

Golden age is full employment with living wage, safe workplaces, and healthy environment


The labor group Partido Manggagawa, on SONA (State of the Nation Address) day, advised their fellow workers not to pin their hopes with the hype of a ‘golden era’ being promoted by the administration of Ferdinand Marcos Jr., saying the value of this campaign narrative, the same as wages, has already been eroded by hard realities.


Because the truth is, argued PM Chair Renato Magtubo, “Never has there been a golden age for workers under any administration and neither will it be realized under BBM, or until full employment, living wage, safe workplaces, and healthy environment are achieved.”


Magtubo explained that over the last few decades, the army of unemployed and underemployed dominate the labor force, with the real value of wages failing to catch up with even half of the living wage.


In the face of soaring inflation, the real value of the P570 minimum wage in the National Capital Region (NCR) today stood only at P508.02, according to the National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC). On the other hand, the living wage requirement for a family of five has already reached P1,300/day based on PM’s earlier estimates.


Thus, together with the Nagkaisa labor coalition, PM is advocating not only for an outright wage increase but also for a change in wage fixing mechanism and, in addition, a package of universal social protection programs that aims to lower households’ daily cost of living.


The country’s workplaces, added Magtubo, remain unsafe as far as workers’ freedom of association is concerned as the anti-union policies of the capitalists do not only enjoy maximum tolerance but are, in so many ways, aided by the state itself such as contractualization (endo), red-tagging and worst, extrajudicial killings.


The Philippines remains in the list of 10 countries where trade union work is most dangerous, according to the latest report by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).


The group pointed out also that despite the unemployment rate tilting back to the pre-pandemic levels, most of the jobs that were either recovered or created remain irregular, self-employment, and low-paid.  Thus, the call of PM and Nagkaisa for employment guarantee and support to key sectors of the economy like the health sector, MSMEs, agriculture, and the environment.


Likewise, echoing the claim of climate activists that there’s hardly any jobs to talk about under a burning planet, PM is asking the government that fighting the climate crisis and creating climate jobs be made one of the major priorities of this new administration.


“Otherwise, if Marcos Jr. simply goes on as business-as-usual during his first SONA, the rest of his six years will be the same over and over again, or even worse,” concluded Magtubo.

25 July 2022

Saturday, July 23, 2022

For opposing a wealth tax, Sen. Padilla doesn’t deserve the name Robinhood


Photo from Inquirer.net

The labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM) stated that Sen. Padilla does not deserve the name Robinhood since he opposes the wealth tax proposal. Earlier Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian declared that he is open to studying a wealth tax as a means of raising funds for the government. The labor coalition Nagkaisa had first advocated for a wealth tax in the latter of half of 2020 to finance its call for a robust package of ayuda or assistance amidst the covid-19 pandemic.


“For refusing to tax the rich in order to give to the poor, Sen. Padilla is better called the Sheriff of Nottingham instead of Robinhood. He should be renamed Falsehood instead of Robinhood since he dishes out fake news to denigrate the wealth tax,” argued Rene Magtubo, PM national chair and an incumbent Marikina councilor.


He added that “For calling the wealth tax a lunacy, Robin Padilla needs literacy in this proposal. His arguments against the wealth tax betrays his utter lack of knowledge of the proposal and his absolute embrace of oligarchs.”


The wealth tax is among the set of demands including regular jobs and a living wage being put forward by PM and other groups ahead of the SONA on Monday. PM will join an assembly of rights defenders and social movements at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani on July 25, 2:30 pm. Later, the groups will hold a torch parade and march to Quezon City Hall. The next day, July 28, the human rights alliance IDefend will hold a presscon about its analysis of the SONA.


Magtubo emphasized that Nagkaisa’s wealth tax proposal can raise P252-272 billion by imposing a 1% tax on the P25.2-27.2 trillion assets stored in the form of stocks, foreign currency, savings and time deposits and other securities. This amount of money is enough to fund support for micro and small enterprises, and employment guarantees for the unemployed and underemployed according to Nagkaisa’s calculations.


“This ball park computation reveals the feasibility of the wealth tax proposal as a revenue generation scheme in the face of the economic crisis. The actual mechanics can be further worked out as we do not want to tax wage earners holding bank accounts. Instead we should only tax the filthy rich, say those with P2 billion in wealth, and adjust the tax rate to raise the same amount of P252-272 billion. Thus, the wealth tax is only for the super billionaires, not even for wealthy action stars. But imposing a wealth tax on the richest 50 Filipinos won't even make these families poorer than Manny Pacquiao.” explained Magtubo.


He asserted that “In any case, the wealth tax is not even revolutionary. Sober governments in Luxembourg, France, Switzerland already implement wealth taxes. In form, a wealth tax is no different from the real property tax imposed by local governments which hardly anybody finds lunatic.”

July 23, 2022

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Riders group demand ayuda ahead of SONA


The riders’ rights group Kapatiran sa Dalawang Gulong (Kagulong) asked the government for a package of social assistance for the so-called “bagong bayani” ahead of the first SONA of President Bongbong Marcos.


Kagulong held a pre-SONA online gathering yesterday were riders aired their grievances and tabled a set of demands. The group plans to join the alternative SONA mobilization of civil society groups on Monday.


“Protection of riders’ rights, livelihood and safety are the three main issue facing the riding community. These can be addressed by the new government through legislation or executive action,” stated Don Pangan Kagulong secretary-general.


He explained that the incomes of food delivery, courier and motorcycle taxi riders have been severely affected by rising prices of gasoline. As independent contractors, fuel costs as well as vehicle maintenance are shouldered by riders and not the apps.


“When gas prices were around P60 per liter, riders spent P200 to P300 for travelling for 8 to 10 hour a day. Now that gas costs P70 to P80 per liter, fuel expenses have risen to P300 to P400 but gross incomes have remained the same. So, a rider earning P800 daily gets to take home only P500 today instead of P600 or more previously. This net income is now below the minimum wage. Riders are falling into the ranks of the working poor. Thus, the urgency of the demand for subsidized fuel and basic goods,” Pangan elaborated.


He added “In addition, riders set aside P50 daily for vehicle maintenance and P100 to P150 weekly (P150/7 days = P21.42) for their cellphone load. This just leaves P428.58 as the take-home pay of a rider. If the spouse also works as a rider, the aggregate household income comes up to only a little more than P800 daily which falls short of the P1,300 cost of living estimate of Partido Manggagawa. No wonder that if riders fall sick or meet an accident then they plunge into debt given that they have no social protection as self-employed workers. Therefore, we demand recognition as employees with labor rights and social security.”


Kagulong is also asking Congress to repeal the Doble Plaka law for being discriminatory to riders and authorities for better enforcement of road safety laws.


July 21, 2022