Except for Duterte, leading candidates for the presidential race signs contract to end contractualization

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Vice President Jejomar Binay, Sen. Grace Poe and Sec. Mar Roxas

Three days before the elections, three presidential candidates signed a contract with a coalition of labor federations and workers’ organizations calling for the repeal of the notorious and rampant contractual work scheme in the country.

“We have the signatures of Mar Roxas, Grace Poe, and Jejomar Binay conforming to workers’ clamor to repeal contractualization work scheme in the country. While only 3 of the 5 presidential candidates have formally signed our proposed ‘anti-endo contract,’ we are elated that ending contractualization work scheme is among the primary social issues that is being advocated by all the ‘presidentiables,’ which will influence the outcome of the May 9 national elections,” the NAGKAISA labor coalition said in its statement.

By affixing their signatures, the 3 candidates have signified their commitment to fight contractualization. “Regardless of who among them wins, the minority president has a binding agreement with the majority – the Filipino working people. NAGKAISA will engage the new leadership to ensure that she/he will live up to their promise to end Endo,” the group said.

Unfortunately, Rodrigo Duterte’ did not sign the document. “This puts into question his sincerity in fighting contractualization,” NAGKAISA said.

Also known as “endo” (end of contract) or “5-5-5” jobs, this contractual work arrangement is characterized by hiring employees for only five months without security of tenure, paid with unlawful wages and without social protection benefits and privileges compared to what regular workers receive.

Both Grace Poe and Jejomar Binay signed the agreement committing themselves to, “Certify as urgent and enact the Security of Tenure bills both for the private and the public sectors as championed in the outgoing 16th congress by Representatives Raymond Mendoza, Walden Bello and Leah Paquiz.”

Mar Roxas agreed to, “Certify as urgent and enact the Security of Tenure Bill to protect workers’ rights from unfair contractualization,” but added that he would “study and develop flexible and lawful work arrangements to adapt to the needs of employees and employers, thereby securing humane working conditions and encouraging the creation of jobs.”

The Security of Tenure Bill referred to has been languishing in Congress for more than a decade now.

NAGKAISA considers contractualization as a modern day work slavery whereby workers toil to enrich their employers but are paid with measly wages, without Social Security System (SSS), Philhealth and Pag-IBIG protection benefits, cramp in risky workplaces and without security of tenure.

Aside from ending contractualization, other issues presidential candidates have agreed with NAGKAISA are providing for living wage, ensuring quality public services, reforming workplace labor inspection, ensuring the working poor’s right to the city, realizing full employment before the end of six years, among others.

The NAGKAISA is a coalition of 49 labor centers, federations, and workers’ organizations including big labor groups such as the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (Sentro), Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), Federation of Free Workers (FFW), National Confederation of Labor (NCL), National Federation of Labor Unions (NAFLU), Partido Manggagawa (PM) and Associated Labor Unions (ALU).

Solidarity Message to Central Única dos Trabalhadores (CUT) Brazil

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VAGNER FREITAS
President
Central Única dos Trabalhadores (CUT)
575 Rua Cartano Pinto, São Paulo, Brazil
vagner@cut.org.br, presidencia@cut.org.br

JOÃO ANTONIO FELICIO
President
INTERNATIONAL TRADE UNIONS CONFEDERATION (ITUC)
Brussels, Belgium
tur@ituc-csi.org

In behalf of the members and officers of the Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (Sentro) – Center of United and Progressive Workers, a national labor center here in the Philippines and an ITUC member like the CUT – we extend our utmost and militant solidarity with the Brazilian labor movement led by CUT as well as its political party, the Partido dos Trabalhadores, amid the ongoing rightist “congressional coup” against President Dilma Rousseff and her PT-led government.

Sentro is aware that behind the anti-corruption campaign that resulted to Rousseff’s impeachment by the Chamber of Deputies last April 17 is a complex and sinister plot not only to oust her but ultimately to dismantle the PT government and discard all its vast socioeconomic achievements since the historic election of trade unionist Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and PT in 2003. Rousseff succeeded Lula in 2011 and continued his flagship programs marked by both progressive and more inclusive economy coupled with the strengthening of trade union and workers’ rights and the civil liberties.

But all these and other landmark socioeconomic programs that benefited and continue to benefit the majority of the Brazilian people will either be abolished or diluted when the conservatives wrest control of the government by impeaching Rousseff through trumped-up charges. Prominent personalities behind this drive include Eduardo Cunha, president of the Chamber of Deputies and architect of the impeachment; Michel Temer, Rousseff’s vice president and the acting president-in-waiting if the Senate will affirm on May 11 the Lower House’s impeachment of Rousseff; and Jair Bolsonaro, the shameless rightist congressman, bigot and apologist of Brazil’s past military dictatorship. They represent the conservative elites that want to reclaim the state power even through the backdoor or the current “coup” and will snatch back the gains painstakingly achieved by Brazil’s trade unions and other social movements. These three shady politicians are also in fact the ones who are truly involved in corruption, and not Rousseff, who is being slapped with unsubstantiated charges.

Moreover, other strategic thrust of this “coup” – as under the Brazilian Constitution, an impeachment without a qualifying crime is considered a coup – is to prevent the return of the very popular Lula in the next presidential polls in 2018.

Related to this, reflecting the frightful rising of a “new Right” or neofascism, Bolsonaro has been earning additional believers as shown in surveys among the presidential hopefuls two years from now, wherein his poll numbers have increased “from 6 percent to 8 percent since March, putting him within 20 points of the leading candidates,” a report said.

There is definitely a pressing need for the labor and social movements to stem the rising tide of rightwing politics in Latin America and elsewhere in the world – including, in fact in the United States with the like of Donald Trump and even here in the Philippines in the person of the presidential frontrunner, the budding neofascist Rodrigo Duterte. We must consolidate and strengthen our ranks to stop the overthrowing by force, deceit or “legal” maneuvers of democratic leftist or populist or pro-worker governments as we must continue fighting unjust governments.

Indeed, we must preserve and expand the gains achieved by the labor movement in the past hundred years or so as we must persevere to building just, prosperous, peaceful and democratic societies.

In solidarity,

 

FRANK MERO                            JOSUA MATA
Chairperson                              Secretary General

May 1 & May 9 calls: End Endo, End Poverty, Reject ‘Trapos’ and the Rising ‘New Right’!

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Around 6,000 organized labor belonging to SENTRO marched at 9:30 this morning from Welcome Rotonda to Mendiola

ORGANIZED labor reiterated its call against rampant contractualization while urging the people to repudiate the “trapos” or traditional politicians. The national labor center Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) also warned against the rise of the “new right” or neo-fascists during the celebration of International Labor Day today which is just a few days before the crucial May 9 elections.

“The already dismal poverty has further been aggravated by the country’s non-inclusive economic ‘growth’, SENTRO said in it’s May Day statement. “Only the elites have benefited from this through the widespread use and abuse of contractual labor, especially ‘end-of-contract’ or ‘endo’ workers,” it added.

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They called to end contractualization of labor by passing the Security of Tenure Bill

Aside from low pays and scarce benefits that burden the vast majority of Filipino workers, a rapidly growing segment of the labor force is being driven to highly exploitative and illegal contractualization or precarious work arrangements, including the “endo” or “5-5-5” scheme, where workers are endlessly hired and fired every five months to prevent them from becoming permanent or regular employees, availing of mandatory bonuses and other benefits and joining a union, Sentro emphasized.

On the eve of next week’s polls, Sentro expressed its concern that while the people’s deep-seated frustration over the ineptness of the government has prodded more voters to rebuff “Aquino clone and neoliberal” Mar Roxas, and “barefaced trapo and corrupt” Jojo Binay, the citizens are yet forced to choose among the other dubious presidential bets: “unreliable” Miriam Defensor-Santiago, “egocentric and budding ‘trapo’” Grace Poe, and “rambling fool and thug” Rodrigo Duterte.

Sentro particularly voiced out its apprehension over the topping in the surveys of Duterte and vice presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., son and namesake of the notorious late Philippine dictator, who also looted tens of billions of dollars from the country’s coffers. Marcos has continued to deny the wide-scale human rights violations and big-time thievery of the Marcos regime.

Duterte has ruled Davao City with iron-fist and widely acknowledged as the brains behind the extrajudicial killings there not only of criminals but many innocent people as well, including children. He was recently condemned and charged for his disgusting statement on a slain rape victim, reinforcement of rape culture and abusive behavior. His image is further tainted now with recent evidences to his secret wealth on his undisclosed bank accounts that are alleged to contain billions of pesos.

“Desperate for change, the voters, especially the rich and the middle class – and even many from the masses – are now opting for supposedly ‘instant solutions’ that is paving the way for the rise of ‘neo-fascists’ like Rodrigo Duterte and Bongbong Marcos,” Josua Mata, Secretary-General of SENTRO said.

Mata added, “It seems that the people have yet to learn the lesson behind the myth of strong leadership – that the huge power amassed by a leader leads to momentous errors at best as well as disaster and massive bloodshed – and looting – at worst. The dark years of martial law should be a grim reminder for all of us.”

However, SENTRO admitted that “while we could blame the ruling elites’ ineptitude for the rise of neo-fascism or extreme Right, we at the Left are partly responsible, too. The broad left groups, including in the mass movements and the trade unions, have again failed to get our acts together – reminiscent of the events prior to the rise of Nazism of Adolf Hitler and Fascism of Benito Mussolini. In fact, a major wing of the current Philippine Left is backing Duterte, another for Poe, and yet another is pro-Roxas.”

“Ultimately, real change can only come from conscious and organized people who have powerful labor or trade union movement and other progressive social movements,” SENTRO emphatically said.

SENTRO does not support any presidential candidate, but has so far formally endorsed Leni Robredo for vice-president and Walden Bello for senator. They got Sentro’s endorsement after signing their respective memorandum of agreements with the labor center last March 19, which enjoin them to “jointly and steadfastly promote and pursue (Sentro’s) labor and other social advocacies” specified in the MOAs.

Robredo and Bello joined several thousands of Sentro members from its various affiliate organizations and supporters who observed today’s Labor Day in Manila. They assembled at the Quezon City Welcome Rotunda in the morning and marched to Mendiola, near Malacañang, where a program was held. Other allied organizations present were the Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), National Federation of Labor Unions (Naflu), Ang Nars party-list, and Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSlink).

Other Sentro May 1 mobilizations were held in Batangas, Cebu, Davao, General Santos and Cotabato.

Sentro welcomes pres’l bets raising the ‘endo’ issue, dares them to present concrete steps to curb contractualization

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File photo

AFTER being ignored as a pressing problem for so long, the “endo” or rampant contract labor has finally been elevated to a more mainstream issue when all the five presidential candidates acknowledged and openly opposed it during their third and last debate yesterday that was broadcast live nationwide.

The national labor center Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa, however, challenged the presidential bets to present detailed measures on how to end the worsening “end-of-contract” (endo) labor or contractualization and not just spout motherhood statements or good sound bites to gain votes.

“The trade unions have been campaigning against ‘endo’ or contractualization for many years now, and closely linked to this, we have also pushed for the Security of Tenure (SOT) bill in Congress. But it has repeatedly been blocked by Big Business and their allies in the past three Congresses already and it has languished there for almost 10 years now,” Josua Mata, Sentro secretary general, said.

“Since all of the presidential hopefuls are incumbent government officials in the legislative as well asthe national and local executive branches, which provide them at least a stronger platform to fight ‘endo’ practices, we wonder what they have been doing before regarding this issue or why they have to wait for the upcoming elections or the presidential debates to express their supposed opposition to contractualization,” Mata asked.

Aside from low pays and scarce benefits that burden the vast majority of Filipino workers, a rapidly growing number of the labor force is driven to contractualization or precarious work arrangements, including the “endo” or “5-5-5” scheme, where workers are endlessly hired and fired every five months to prevent them from having permanent or regular employment status, Sentro revealed.

This highly exploitative and illegal tactic enables unscrupulous employers to avoid giving mandatory bonuses and other benefits to would-be regular workers, and contractual employees are likewise not allowed to join unions, which in turn can negotiate for higher wages and additional benefits and ensure many other rights for union members, Sentro explained.

Sentro slams the Easter Sunday carnage in Pakistan, calls for social justice to fight all forms of terrorism and bigotry

Aftermath of a  bomb blast site in Lahore Pakistan on March 27, 2016. (AFP Photo)

Aftermath of a bomb blast site in Lahore Pakistan on March 27, 2016. (AFP Photo)

“I WISH I hadn’t brought my daughter to the park today (but) … This is the only recreation we can afford for her. What is her fault?”

Thus, a distraught working-class father lamented when, on March 27, his little girl became one of the casualties in the suicide bombing at a funfair in a popular public park in Lahore, Pakistan, which supposedly targeted Christians celebrating the Easter Sunday. Over 70 people were killed, many women and children, and mostly in fact were Muslims, and more than 300 others injured.

The dead and maimed now belong to a long and growing list of innocent, helpless and noncombatant victims of senseless and horrific terrorism spawned by religious extremism of Al-Qaeda and Taliban in Afghanistan, Pakistan’s neighbor, which have reared their ugly heads also in the form of their equally sadistic counterpart, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which continues its killing and destruction spree in its occupied territories and has recently unleashed its orgy of bombings and shooting in France and Belgium.

The Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa strongly denounces the Lahore carnage, a merciless and indiscriminate murder of ordinary working-class families who have nothing to do with the dubious and double-faced US-led global “war on terror” and who were only strolling in the park and letting the kids play on the rides and swings. This reprehensible slaughter shattered the happy scene of bonding between poor parents and their children as well as the relatively peaceful coexistence of the majority Muslims and minority Christians in Lahore.

Sentro expresses its fervent opposition to any form of extremism and fundamentalism that use and propagate twisted and self-serving interpretation of Islam and jihad that let loose intolerance, mayhem and brutality; as we fervently oppose distorted and egocentric versions of Christianity – and all religions for that matter – that set off racism, bigotry and many types of violence, including the rule of the few rich over the overwhelming poor majority, which are personified by Aryan or White supremacists, a variety of Christian fundamentalist sects and even other fringe groups or apologists like Donald Trump.

This cycle of violence and counter-violence will never end as long as the great inequality in wealth and opportunities continue – as this great inequality creates and worsens poverty, muzzles our voices, and ensures the dominance of prejudices and the tyrannical rule of the few. These are the social inequalities and injustices that the trade unions and the entire social movements are fighting. Indeed, our thoroughgoing fight for justice is also a thoroughgoing fight for a lasting peace.