Labor group hits closure of Boracay without clear compensation for the workers

Photo by: orlyn anthony gerano

After recently abandoning his promise to end the practice of labor contractualization, the President ordered the closure of Boracay without first ensuring the livelihood of the workers and their families who will suffer the most, Sentro ng Nagkakaisang Progresibong Manggawa (SENTRO) stated.

“At last, the President is finally showing his true color, no different from his predecessors, with regards to the poor, particularly the workers: always at the tail end of government’s priorities,” said Josua Mata, SENTRO Secretary General.

The drastic manner of the closure of Boracay island resort are not only affecting the livelihood of  the 36,000 workers directly hit, but other workers who are providing ancillary services, such as travel agents and their families, Mata said.

“While we support the need to clean up and rehabilitate Boracay, and other tourist destination areas, we believe it should be done in a planned way, not through draconian measures that leave workers and their families in limbo. Why make workers and their families suffer, when it was the hotel and resort owners and the local government officials who were responsible for the island’s problems in the first place?” Daniel L. Edralin, 1st Vice Chairperson of  SENTRO, and Secretary General of the hotel workers’ union, NUWHRAIN.

“The national government should have sat down with the local development council to craft such rehabilitation plan, ensuring that alternatives had been duly explored. Such plan could also have been done in phases. And if wholesale closure is deemed really appropriate, the  36K workers, or more, and their families should have guaranteed jobs or compensation for the whole duration.”

SENTRO was particularly aghast at the pronouncement early this month of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), that the cost of temporarily shutting down Boracay to make way for its rehabilitation will have a “very insignificant effect” on the entire economy.

To recall, NEDA Director for National Policy and Planning Reynaldo R. Cancio said in a press briefing, that “even if the ban extends up to six months… at the macro level, it has a very insignificant effect. We see something like 0.1% of GDP.”

“This really shows that the workers are not even in the periphery of the sights of the President and his economic managers,“ Mata said, adding “what a way to treat the backbone which runs the economic wheel, referring to the workers”.

A total of P2 billion worth of calamity funds will be allotted to the displaced workers of legitimate businesses in the island, Malacanang announced early this month.

However, profiling of those affected residents is incomplete, no clear plan on how to distribute such funds to workers and their families has been revealed, and no proof given still that such funds are actually available for distribution.

The National Union of Workers and Hotels and Restaurants (NUWHRAIN) is an affiliate of SENTRO and the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Association (IUF). (END)

 

Labor group challenges ECOP and DTI officials to live on P512.00 a day as contractual worker

The Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisang at Progresibong Manggagawa is challenging the employers and officials of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to try for five months, to live with the National Capital Region’s minimum rate of P512.00 a day, to know how it feels to live on a very limited wage daily and without assurance if they still have jobs after five months.

“I think this is going to be the most effective way for them to learn a thing or two about poverty, a word which they understand only in theory,” said Josua Mata, Secretary General of Sentro, reacting to the statements issued by the DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez saying that direct hiring cannot be forced upon employers.

The Employers Confederation of the Philippines said that the Executive Order against contractualization will destabilize the economy.

According to Mata, the unrestrained contractualization if allowed to continue will destabilize not only the economy, but every fabric of the Philippine society.

“Lopez’s explanation that the worse thing about being exploited is NOT to be exploited is another way of saying that workers are better off consigned to a life of poverty surviving through a series of disposable jobs compared with being unemployed, is so insensitive and inhumane that warrants his resignation immediately,” Mata said.

On Ecop’s claim that regularization will destabilize the economy, Mata countered that if the unhindered contractualization is allowed to continue, it will not only destabilize the economy but also the social fabric of the country.

Mata explained that the overwhelmingly poor who fell victims to the government’s war on drugs is testament of how poverty can deaden one’s judgement on what is wrong and what is right. Poor and without enough power, these victims did not have any shield against syndicates.

“The president should fulfill his campaign promises to end contractualization. It is the only salvage for working people to be away from poverty and allow them to share in building the nation. The capitalists cannot do that because aside from being limited in number, their instincts naturally bring them to bitterly compete with their kind in securing more profits. Yes, in the process they create wealth, the question is, does the society as a whole and workers in particular benefit from these wealth creation, no, it’s the other way around, the capitalist benefit more from the workers supported by government controlled by capitalists,” Mata said adding that as proof, ultra-rich Filipinos are becoming richer every year while poor Filipinos are becoming poorer every day.

Sentro is a member of NAGKAISA labor coalition.

 

Labor group wary of RTWPB-XI motu proprio wage review

The labor coalition NAGKAISA-Davao cautions workers on the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board-Region XI’s initiative to review and possibly raise the region’s minimum wage. “As in the past wage orders, the RTWPB-XI’s evaluation is most likely to end up giving loose change to workers,” said Sofriano “Ka Ondo” Mataro, spokesperson of Nagkaisa-Davao and regional head of ALU-TUCP.

TUCP has petitioned the regional wage board for a P104.00 across-the-board increase but the latter said that it has already initiated a motu proprio review of the existing minimum wage in the region in its meeting on January 17, 2018.

“We doubt that the wage review of RTWPB-XI is not prompted by DOLE Secretary Bello, who seems to be working in cahoots with the employers on the issue of contractualization. If not with TUCP’s petition in late March, we would not know that the regional wage board has taken the initiative to take a look at workers’ wages since January”, stated Joel Bañas, spokesperson and Chairperson of SENTRO Davao.

He further explained, “It’s already three months now and no labor group have been consulted and no public hearings were called to discuss the matter. If the regional wage board is talking to some groups, it is not the workers but the employers. Is the right of workers to be heard doesn’t matter nowadays?”

“Agravante said that the wage board has undertaken studies on the region’s economic conditions including the effects of the TRAIN Law, where are the results of these much-vaunted studies? What are its findings?” asks Remy Torres, spokesperson of Partido ng Manggagawa (PM).

Remy Torres is referring to Raymundo Agravante, chairperson of RTWPB-XI and the regional director of the Department of Labor and Employment-Region XI.

“We need to raise workmen’s wages. The P104.00 petition of TUCP is not even enough to recover the lost purchasing power of the regional wage which is P132.70”, asserted Ka Ondo, spokesperson of the group and a convenor of Nagkaisa-Davao.

According to the website of NWPC (National Wages and Productivity Commission), the real value of the region’s minmum wage of P340.00 is a measly P207.30. ” And these figures are as of February 9, 2018. The impact of the excise and value-added taxes under the TRAIN Law is still not factored in”, he added.

The labor coalition alleged that workers are staggering from the effects of the TRAIN Law which inflated prices of basic commodities. The Philippine Statistics Authority confirmed this in an announcement recently that inflation in March 2018 surged to 4.3%.

The law lists ten criteria on which the wage board would base its decision in fixing wages. Among them were the rise in the cost of living, the purchasing power of the peso and workers’ demand for a raise. But Joel Bañas of SENTRO Davao claims, “Since its creation thirty years ago, the regional wage boards has only one consideration on issuing wage orders, which is the employers’ capacity to pay, forsaking the workers’ capacity to buy.”

Affected workers call for implementation of DOLE’s regularization order, Bats for the issuance of EO that will prohibit contracting

Photo by: Del Banares/Sentro

Workers from across industries are appealing to the government for the immediate implementation of previous Department of Labor and Employment’s order for regularization and has called on their respective companies to follow the example of set by fast food giant Jollibee as it recently agreed to regularize its contractual workers.
“We laud the decision of Jollibee’s management to fully comply with DOLE’s decision,” Benedict Murillo, a leader of Respect Fast Food Workers’ Alliance, said. “We urge the company to enjoin its all franchises to do the same,” he added.

A total of 2,488 employees of Sofitel, Manila Peninsula, Holiday Inn Makati, Fairmont and Raffles, Dusit Thani Manila, New World Renaissance, Manila Pavillion have been anxiously waiting for their regularization as ordered by DOLE on separate occasions.
According to Daniel L. Edralin, Secretary General of the National Union of Workers in Hotel Restaurant and Allied Industries (NUWHRAIN), his group has requested labor inspections to a total of 10 hotels, “but only seven inspections actually took place, with a dismal compliance rate on the part of the companies.”

“Based on our records, compliance to the DOLE’s order only happened in Dusit Thani and Manila Peninsula, although there are still workers due for regularization,” Edralin explained.
In an inspection in February last year, DOLE-NCR found that some 200 employees of Sual Power Plant are due for regularization but the workers are still waiting for the compliance order despite formally writing to DOLE-NCR on four separate occasions. This according to Roman Dastas of Workers’ Solidarity Network (WSN).

May Flor Palad of Pinagisang Tinig at Lakas ng Anak Pawis (PIGLAS) said that in HAMLIN, a garment company that is part of the supply chain of various global brands, the labor department ordered the company to comply in February last year, with close to 1,000 workers due for regularization. The order remains unimplemented and some workers were actually dismissed by the management after attempting to invoke the order.

Photo By: Del Banares/Sentro

According to Rodel Abenoja of SENTRO Davao, the Sky Cable’s branches in the cities of Tagum and Davao were found by DOLE guilty of the prohibited labor only contracting and a total of 77 employees should have been regularized on July 27, 2018. The order remains unimplemented.
In the case of PEPSI in Davao, DOLE has claimed compliance by the management which would have benefitted 85 workers but according to Sentro, the union in that branch did not receive compliance order and the region’s DOLE office failed to provide a copy of the compliance order when asked by the union for a copy.

According to Josua Mata, Secretary General of Sentro, the long delayed implementation proves that DOLE’s regulatory framework does not work.

“The biggest problem is that companies would generally challenge DOLE’s decisions in courts. This shows DO174 is failing to deliver Duterte’s promise,” Mata said.
In general, employers are given only 10 days from receipt of inspection results with findings of violations to correct violations of labor standards.

The labor leader explained that this is the reason why SENTRO and NAGKIASA, together with KMU and other labor groups, are calling for the issuance of an EO that would correct DO 174.
“That EO should veer away from regulating contractualization and instead work for prohibiting it, of course with some exemptions to be agreed upon,” he explained, adding that a watered down EO that DOLE and the Department of Trade and Industry has been planning will not repair the leaks of the DO 147.

Unfortunately, after more than 2 years, the president has been hemming and hawing over the issuance of an Executive Order that will signal the government’s resolve to prohibit contractualization with some exemptions.

DOLE announced that an EO would finally be signed in Malacañang on 16 April 2018.
However, Mata said that SENTRO leaders will not attend the event in Malacañang on 16 April 2018 unless it is clear that the EO to be signed is labor’s version and not the one peddled by DOLE and DTI which would only perpetuate the flawed DO 174. “SENTRO stands by NAGKAISA’s decision not to be a party to a sellout,” Mata said.

NAGKAISA is the broadest labor coalition in the country. NUWHRAIN, WSN, PIGLAS and Respect Fast Food Workers are affiliates of SENTRO.#

Statement of SENTRO F&B on the violent picket dispersal of workers in COCA-COLA FEMSA Philippines

We, the officers and members of the Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at mga Progresibong
Manggagawa Food and Beverage Council (SENTRO F&B), together with its various union
affiliates all over the Philippines, condemn in the strongest possible terms the violent dispersal of
a peaceful picket staged, on April 2, 2018, by, more or less, eighty (80) workers of the COCA-
COLA FEMSA Philippines, Inc. to protest their malevolent, oppressive, repressive and arbitrary
dismissal from their respective works, leaving their respective families in economic limbo.

About ten (10) picketing workers, who participated in the picket, were also arrested by police
officers who barged into the workers’ picket lines in blatant violation the joint guidelines issued
by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Interior and Local
Government (DILG), Department of National Defense (DND), Department of Justice (DOJ), the
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP).

The Guidelines mandate, among others, military and police elements to stay fifty (50) meters
away from the picket lines and to exercise utmost neutrality in the prevailing labor feuds
between the workers and the company, and not to unnecessarily disrupt the exercise of the
workers of their constitutional right to peaceably assemble for redress of their grievances. Labor pickets are constitutional tool that the workers can use to balance the power landscape between the workers and owners of capital.

The violent dispersal of the peaceful pickets of the dismissed COCO-COLA workers, and the
consequential arrest of some of them, is a blatant of violation of a constitutional injunction which mandates the state and its instruments, like the military, the police and the city government of Davao, to give full protection to labor, organized and unorganized, being a primary social and economic force.

These high-handed, arrogant and illegal actions of the police, with the imprimatur of Davao City Mayor Sarah Duterte-Carpio, deserve strong condemnations from all well-meaning sections of society, owing to the fact that these dubious actions are perpetrated through the orders of a public official who postures in public to be pro-poor and to be protective of the welfare and interests of the masses.

It is not true, as we are made to believe by government authorities, that the picketing workers are the employees of the Work Experts and Allied Services, Inc., which is notoriously known in
Davao City to be illegally operating as a labor-only contracting agency. The picketing workers,
having been victims of labor-only contracting and as workers who are performing works which
are necessary and desirable to the business or trade of the company are deemed regular workers of this same company, in this case, by COCO-COLA, by operations of law, not with standing existence of a work contract to the contrary (Purefoods vs. NLRC).

The proper thing that Davao City Mayor Sarah Duterte-Carpio should have done, as one who
publicly professes her love for the workers and as the daughter of the President of the Republic
who promised to kill the capitalist who oppressed the workers, was to facilitate the honest-to-
goodness dialogue between COCA-COLA and the hapless workers. On the contrary, however,
City Mayor Sarah Duterte-Carpio showed her real color by ordering the violent dispersal of the
picketing workers, and the arrest of some of them, for the purpose of filing criminal charges
against them.

By her acts, Sarah Duterte-Carpio has proven to the world that she is not different from any other elected officials who are pro-capitalist trapos, but who cleverly hide their true character behind the sterling curtains of their pro-poor rhetoric and cosmetic programs and projects. Good for her!

But the workers’ dream for a humane and dignified life will not die. The fate that befalls them
during this fateful day in Davao City will keep the fire burning in their hearts and minds. It will
serve as the propelling force which will prod them to finally cut the chain that ties them from
poverty and unfreedom for so long a time.

Organise! Fight! Win!