NAGKAISA and KMU call for scrapping of PNP’s ‘peace’ office in EcoZones

Nagkaisa! Labor Coalition and Kilusang Mayo Uno deplore the creation and implementation of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) of the Joint Industrial Peace and Coordination Office (JIPCO), which is intended to prevent so-called “radical union infiltration” in industrial zones in Central Luzon.

 

Since the explicit purpose of JIPCO is to stop the organizing of trade unions, this is clearly an institutional and government-led attack on workers’ right to organize.

There is no official definition of “radical unions” since there is no legal basis about it. The JIPCO will clearly be used by abusive PEZA locators as a tool against union organizing in general. By declaring any and all trade union organizing as being initiated by “radical unions” abusive PEZA locators will unfairly and immorally use government’s intelligence and security resources for surveillance and espionage against trade unions and workers, who are taxpayers. This misappropriates precious government resources to infringe on the constitutionally guaranteed workers’ right to organize.

Art. 256 (246) of the Labor Code speaks about ‘non abridgement of the right to self-organization, which states that:

“It shall be unlawful for any person to restrain, coerce, discriminate against or unduly interfere with employees and workers in their exercise of the right to self-organization. Such right shall include the right to form, join, or assist labor organizations for the purpose of collective bargaining through representatives of their own choosing and to engage in lawful concerted activities for the same purpose for their mutual aid and protection, subject to the provisions of Article 264 of this Code. (As amended by Batas Pambansa Bilang 70, May 1, 1980).”

KMU and Nagkaisa believe that an attack by PEZA and PNP against one union or their attempt to disrupt efforts to organize workers by any union is an attack to unionism altogether.

JIPCO will serve the aims of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict. This poses a great danger to the lives and safety of union leaders and organizers as it further encourages irresponsible “red tagging” of the PNP that have compromised the basic rights and have cost the liberty of the people, and attacked legitimate organizations.

JIPCO, in preventing union organizing will lead to the suppression of workers’ right to redress and grievances; and workers’ demands for living wage, better benefits, and humane, safe and healthy workplaces.

JIPCO is in violation of International Labor Organization Conventions 87 and 98 on freedom of association (FOA) and collective bargaining.

The PNP, DILG and PEZA are committing grave abuse of authority with the creation of the JIPCO

At the stakeholders meeting today between and among the DOLE, trade unions, employers’ groups, PNP, PEZA, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Department of National Defense (DND), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Department of Justice (DOJ) Nagkaisa and KMU will therefore demand:

  1. The immediate abolition of JIPCO and rendering ineffective of the Memorandum of Agreement that created it
  2. Review of the PEZA AFP and PNP Guidelines on their conduct in EcoZones
  3. Review of AO 35 with the view of enhancing the role of workers
  4. Government’s acceptance of the ILO Tripartite High Level Mission that will look into the killings and harassment of trade union leaders and organizers; and violations of the provisions of ILO C. 87 and 98 and other FOA principles
  5. Conduct of FOA orientation sessions for key AFP and PNP officers and frontline personnel; and security guards

Stop Threatening the Franchise: Defend Press Freedom, Assert Workers’ Rights!

The National Alliance of Broadcast Unions (NABU), representing workers in the Broadcast industry, stands in solidarity with our fellow workers in ABS-CBN whose employment is currently being held hostage by the government’s politicking. Malacañang’s threats of shutting down the operations of ABS-CBN reveals its indifference to the plight of workers, thousands of whom would face immediate termination and loss of livelihood should the media corporation’s franchise be revoked. At the same time, the intimidation of one of the country’s largest media outlets should be seen as part of a coordinated assault against press freedom and the right of free expression – hallmarks of democratic processes that continue to be undermined under the present national situation.

The widespread propagation of fake news and the presence of known fake news peddlers and propagandists in the government is alarming not just for media workers and practitioners; the deliberate propagation of dubious and obviously false information should be exposed and rejected by the public as toxic to the national interest. At the same time, it is clear that large media outlets such as ABS-CBN are not completely innocent or without any issues.

Just as we stand against the intimidation of journalists, we also condemn the widespread labor violations and systematic disregard of worker’s rights endemic in the broadcast industry. Broadcast workers, including those in ABS-CBN, suffer from precarious employment and contractualization. Current practices such as an internal job market continue to trap workers in a permanent cycle of temporary employment. This is made worse by an anti-union environment present in the industry. Efforts by workers to practice their right to self-organization and to assert their interests are met with harassment and intimidation. Today, as we write this statement, numerous labor cases and disputes involving media outlets are currently being litigated in the courts. These cases, and the stories of labor violations and abuse are rarely reported in both mass and social media.

We assert that the defense of press freedom should also include the respect of worker’s rights in the broadcast industry. It is both hypocritical and self-defeating for journalists and media practitioners to call for the defense of the press when these institutions are themselves notorious for rights violations. Just as we stand with the brave journalists and practitioners against harassment, intimidation and the spread of fake news, so should media outlets be held accountable for the treatment of their workforce.

We therefore call on Malacañang and the honorable members of Congress to stop holding ABS-CBN’s franchise hostage. Rather than going after the franchise, which would lead to widespread termination and further stifle free speech, we call for the respect of worker’s rights and holding media outlets accountable to violations through appropriate channels such as DOLE and the NTIPC. The media, as defenders of democratic values, must serve as a role model and be the first to respect the rights of workers, which itself is one of the fundamental conditions of democracy. Doing so will make the campaign for truth, justice, and accountability stronger. Broadcast workers stand for a genuinely free and democratic press – both inside and outside the media.

The National Alliance of Broadcast Unions represents workers and in media outlets across the country such as ABS-CBN, GMA 7, TV 5, PTV 4, IBC 13, and Radio Veritas. For inquiries and concerns, please contact the Alliance at 0967 450 6193.

Unionism is Not Terrorism! Assert the dignity of Labor Against Union Harassment and Intimidation

The formation of the Joint Industrial Peace and Concern Office (JIPCO) by the PNP in Central Luzon in close coordination with the Philippine Economic Zone Authority is a dangerous development, one that ignores the root causes of labor unrest in the country. Under the pretext of public security, anti-insurgency, and the favorite buzzwords of peace and order, this expansion of police presence in the hotbeds of labor violations constitute nothing less than the brazen collaboration between the Philippine State’s security forces, local businesses and multinational corporations to suppress workers’ Constitutionally-guaranteed right to self-organization.

Betraying the clearly pro-business agenda of this initiative, Sentro Secretary General Josua Mata comments that JIPCO’s launch has been presented as a concerted effort to prevent the entry of “militant labor” in the various industries, ecozones, and businesses across Central Luzon. He continues by saying that Labor Unions are implicitly presented as “communist fronts”, terrorists, and enemies of progress. “While JIPCO is introduced as “protecting both labor welfare, labor rights, and productive industry gains, without sacrificing industrial peace”, the focus on anti-insurgency and combating the “communist threat” conveniently forgets to mention the long list of crimes, intimidation, harassment, and even murder of workers at the hands of corporate interests and their hired thugs” says Mata.

The absence of any mention of the more than 43 labor and peasant leaders killed since 2016 for fighting for workers’ and trade union rights, the prevalence of union busting, intimidation of unionists, and the practical supremacy of capital over labor in our ecozones raises the question “What kind of Industrial Peace will JIPCO uphold?”. Given these issues, and the absence of labor in its launch, the answer is clearly a peace where local corporations and the big, multinational firms are free to operate with impunity. The national police will essentially continue to play the role of a private security force used to harass and prevent union efforts to protect and represent worker’s interests in workplaces and factories.

For Mata, “Rather than addressing longstanding issues of job precariousness, contractualization, low wages, unsafe work environments and harassment, JIPCO’s launch and stated objectives show that the Philippine State, under the supposedly pro-people Duterte government, is continuing the decades-old policy of supporting the interests of Big Business over the rights, and lives, of millions of workers through this barely-hidden assault on the right to unionize.”

Sentro condemns this most recent assault on the dignity, security, and survival of working people. In particular, we demand that DOLE fulfill its mandated role of upholding the rights of workers through existing laws, regulations and mechanisms such as the Industrial Tripartite Peace Councils to address the primary causes of labor unrest and suffering that misguided projects such as JIPCO will merely worsen. We call on all labor unions, centers, and federations, as well as the general public, to oppose this disgusting act of using taxpayer money in defense of unjust business practices and labor violations in the name of progress and global competitiveness.To these false promises of development our reply is that we can, and must, build an economy built on equality, justice, and the dignity of work. The seeds of this free, sustainable and peaceful economy lies with the defense of our Unions and communities – these are our main instruments for securing a better future for ourselves and all working people in the country.

Permanent deployment ban to Kuwait more harmful to OFWs

Despite its good intentions, imposing a permanent deployment ban in Kuwait can be more detrimental to Filipino migrant workers (OFWs), the Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Mangagawa (SENTRO) said in a statement.

“We are grieving over the death of Jeanelyn Villavende, another name to a very long list of OFWs maltreated and killed by their abusive employers, yet we may be issuing a sentence of slow death to the families of other OFWs who have no other way of feeding their families, Josua Mata, SENTRO’s Secretary General said.

The labor organization explained that with the ban, would-be-OFWs will only resort to illegal means to enter the country, or those who are onsite will only stay illegally way beyond their contracts for fear of not able to return, which are more difficult to track and will further endanger their lives.

According to Mata, the government has to come up with sustainable mechanisms in imposing deployment bans, it has to find way to strike the balance between the OFWs’ protection and their right to travel.

In 2011 study, the government’s think tank, Philippine Institute for Development Studies, said that imposing deployment ban is not an end in itself, and that there is need to enhance our sense and assessment on policy citing the absence of concrete policies on OFWs’ economic and development role.

“Deployment ban had been issued time and again, but we all know that it just a knee-jerk reaction whenever the harsh reality of not having enough employment in the country slaps the government in its face,” Mata said.

In 2018 President Duterte made the same decision following reports that some workers in the Gulf state were maltreated by their employers and said he would ask other countries, including China, to accommodate OFWs.

“Eventually, the Philippine government rescinded the ban because it has no way of relocating thousands of employed OFWs in Kuwait to other countries,” Mata said, adding that the permanent solution is not a deployment ban in any other countries but developing the country’s agro-industry to absorb the Filipino labor force, and to give better wages and benefits to Filipino workers and professionals.

Sentro to Pernia, ECOP: Use a Real Argument to Veto Villanueva SOT

Socio Economic Planning Secretary Pernia should simply say that the security of tenure bill, also known as Villanueva Bill, will not be able to deliver President Duterte’s promise to end endo, rather than weave an imagined argument such as job losses, Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Mangagawa (SENTRO) said in a statement.

“The notion that security of tenure will lead to job losses is a worn-out argument that has no empirical basis, solely designed to scare people off in supporting the SOT bill!” Josua Mata, Secretary General of SENTRO emphatically said.

According to Mata, the SOT Bill should not lead to job losses because it won’t entail additional costs to employers—assuming they are already following the law and are providing their workers what the law requires them to pay.

“On the contrary, by directly hiring workers, employers would no longer have to shell out the 10-15% premium over minimum wages that they pay to manning agencies, they would even cut down on their training costs, while at the same time, gain more productive workers,” Mata explained.

The true reason why employers are calling for the veto of the Villanueva bill, is simple, “they want to kill trade unionism in the country!” Mata said.

Mata said that ECOP President Edgardo Lacson insinuated that in an interview prior to SONA that, the “… security of tenure bill… it will be used by the local unions only as a recruitment tool, to arrest their declining membership.”

Ironically, they called the Villanueva bill unconstitutional. But they ignore the fact that contractualization is unconstitutional! After all, contractualization prevent workers from accessing their constitutional guarantees to organize, collectively bargain and to strike, the labor leader said.

For ECOP, giving workers the ability to unionize is anathema to their sole mission—to ratchet up their profits at the expense of their workers with no organization to challenge them, Mata also said, adding “such Jurassic thinking is the reason why inequality continues to grow by leaps and bounds and poverty keeps growing amidst economic growth.”

The truth is, local and foreign employers, have already gutted the bill, rendering it toothless, before it was even passed by the Senate. This is why the leaders of the House of Representatives junked its own version and adopted the Senate bill to avoid having a bicameral conference committee, Mata also explained.

Villanueva Bill will NOT end endo, because it will not prohibit fixed-term employment, which means that employers can continue to hire workers for 5 months or less, Mata further explained, adding, “worst, it would continue to allow employers to contract out all types of jobs, unless labor and employers come to an agreement on which jobs are “directly related” and are therefore prohibited from being contracted out.”

“For Pete’s sake, Secretary Pernia, if you want to have the Villanueva Bill vetoed, use a real argument!” Mata forcefully said.

Kalipunan calls for a defense of the commons

General Santos City

Quezon City — At the 4th State of the Nation Address of President Rodrigo Duterte, Kalipunan ng Kilusang Masa (Kalipunan) assemble with other organizations at Commonwealth Avenue to protest against President Duterte’s sell out of Filipinos’ rights and his willful patronage to the Chinese Communist Party led by Xi Jinping. In response, Kalipunan calls for a defense of the commons.

Social movements of the Kalipunan ng mga Kilusang Masa, a coalition hailing from the basic sectors of Philippine society, have issued a statement in anticipation of President Duterte’s fourth SONA, condemning three years of the Duterte regime that has led to the exploitation of the nation’s resources and people by large corporations, both local and transnational, as well as by foreign governments, especially that of China, which is currently occupying islands in the disputed West Philippine Sea.

Coalition representatives described the current trajectory of Philippine governance as threatening our collective right to the commons as evidenced by the upcoming Kaliwa Dam project targeting rural and indigenous communities, efforts to deny the urban poor’s right to the city through demolitions and forced displacement without ample government support and compensation, as well as blatant land grabbing in the countryside to pave the way for commercialized spaces and exclusive subdivisions.

Furthermore, the continued militarization of the disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea and the unwillingness of the Duterte government to resist foreign encroachment also attack our right to the commons. Countless fishing communities denied access to waters that they have tended of and relied upon for generations. Duterte’s openness to violent means to address aggressions by the Chinese government by citing the Philippines and United States’ Mutual Defense Treaty will only further entrench Filipinos’ inaccess to the seas and its resources.

Despite the Philippine’s hard-won victory granting it exclusive rights to the West Philippine Sea (WPS) accorded by the UNCLOS, the legal victory, one of the most promising non-violent solutions to the ongoing territorial dispute, has never been asserted by President Duterte. His non-assertion has cost the country 20% of our seafood sources from the WPS, and compromised the safety of Filipino fisherfolk.

Kalipunan reiterates that Duterte is not just compromising the national patrimony. Duterte and his lieutenants have sold the people’s right to determine our future to large corporations and to foreign governments such as China and the United States.

Josua Mata, convenor of Kalipunan said, “Defending sovereignty and democracy is about defending the right of all people to a good life. This includes the right to be involved in issues that affect us, such as water access, land and home ownership, gender equality, and dignified employment. No one person, group or entity should have all the power to exploit a nation’s resources and dictate what happens to everyone else. It’s about defending the public good against greedy private interests.”

Aside from the dangers to our collective commons and the people’s sovereignty, the Duterte administration is also relentless in further eroding democratic institutions, undermining the rule of law, silencing dissent through violence and murder as well as entrenching a culture of sexism and misogyny. The war on drugs continues unabated, with over 28,000 people killed and counting, their voices and right to due process denied by state security forces and vigilante murderers. In responding to vocal female critics, Duterte has resorted to slut-shaming as well as to making inappropriate sexual jokes in public speeches and various fora that encourage sexist views in the highly conservative country.

Similarly, lawyers, paralegals, and other human rights defenders are being silenced and persecuted for standing up against abuse and injustice. Trade unionists and labor activists are being actively repressed, with the recent murder of a labor organizer in Cavite, a butchered Security of Tenure Bill, and the prevalence of contractualization confirming the ITUC report that the Philippines is among the top countries dangerous for workers and unionists. Budit Carlos of iDefend said, “President Duterte, head of the state, himself has led the mockery of Filipinos’ human rights. We cannot expect development from a leader who sees himself as above the commons, who thinks he surpasses [universal] human rights and even the country’s constitution.”

Complementing this all-out assault on the country’s fledgling democratic institutions are the political maneuverings of Duterte and his allies to consolidate their power, most prominent of which is the call for an elite-led charter change or Cha-Cha towards federalism. Alyansa Tigil Mina’s National Coordinator, Jaybee Garganera said, “Amending the 1987 Constitution will possibly delete the provision on the people’s right to a safe ad balanced ecology, and will open up foreign exploitation of our environment and natural resources with destructive and dirty projects such as mining, large dams, reclamation and monoculture plantations”


Kalipunan ng Kilusang Masa is a coalition of mass movement organizations that represent indigenous peoples, women, workers, PWDs, LGBT, farmers, youth, fisherfolk, and urban poor.

Nurses to DOLE: Give Filipino nurses reason to stay

Instead of preventing Filipino nurses to work abroad, the government should ensure better benefits for them and start appreciating them as a valuable asset not only to the medical care community but to the nation as a whole.

In reaction to Department of Labor’s mulling over restricting deployment of Filipino nurses overseas, the Registered Nurses Task Force of the Alliance of Filipino Workers (RN Task Force -AFW) said that the growing shortage of nurses in the Philippines cannot be addressed by denying the rights of nurses, particularly their right to abode and their freedom to choose where to work.

“If the government is so concerned about the brain drain of critical jobs like nurses, then it is about time that they take steps to value their work. Raising the minimum wages of our nurses, in the public and the private sectors, is the first step in the right direction,” said Gretchen Grace Bumanlag, a union officer of RN Task Force-AFW. Bumanlag is a practicing registered nurse at the Capitol Medical Center, which is part of the Mt. Grace Group of Hospitals.

According to Bumanlag, private and public hospitals should also learn to value more their nurses, by giving them better benefits and stop treating them as disposable individuals.

“Caring for patients is not only physically and mentally exhausting but also emotionally draining as well. If you add long dreadful working hours to that, then you are actually forcing nurses to leave the country,” Bumanlag said. “Indeed, nurses in the country are suffering from being overworked due to lack of nurses, but such a problem should not be solved at the expense of nurses,” she added.

The RN Task Force calls for a comprehensive response to this problem. It is calling on Labor Secretary Bello to convene a tripartite council meeting for the hospital industry to discuss this serious matter.

The RN Task Force-AFW believes that countries who take our nurses are ethically bound to compensate the country for its brain drain. “The current practice of developed countries of draining the developing countries like the Philippines of its pool of nurses is a new form of exploitation,” Bumanlag said. “There has to be some form of reparation for the Philippines coming from countries that benefit from our medical personnel,” Bumanlag said.

The RN Task Force-AFW believes that, in the long run, the country has to develop its own economy to really address the brain drain we are experiencing. The brain drain phenomenon is not only happening in the medical care industry but is affecting other industries as well.

“We will not be tired of reminding the government that if they really want labor migration to be just one of the options, we have to have a clear industrial policy that is aimed at realizing full employment,” She added.

SENTRO Condemns the Killing of a Union Organizer in Cavite

SENTRO joins the NAGKAISA in condemning, in the strongest possible terms, the assassination of Leonides “Dennis” Sequeña, a veteran trade union organizer and vice-chairperson of the Cavite Chapter of Partido Manggagawa (PM). He is the latest to join the growing list of martyred trade union leaders in the country. 

Dennis Sequeña was shot and killed earlier today in Brgy. Bunga, Tanza, Cavite while meeting a group of workers. He was shot by a gunman who arrived riding in tandem on a motorcycle. The gunman and his accomplice escaped using the same motorcycle. Sequena was brought to the General Trias Maternity and Pediatric Hospital but doctors failed to revive him. 

“We call on the government to immediately and thoroughly investigate this dastardly act and ensure that the mastermind be brought to justice immediately,” Josua Mata, SENTRO Secretary General said. 

SENTRO was informed that Dennis Sequeña is currently working on several petitions for certification election in three companies inside the Cavite Export Processing Zone in Rosario.

“This, once again, proves that the country continues to be dangerous for trade unionists, whose only crime is to assert their workers’ and trade union rights guaranteed by the Constitution,” Mata said.

In 2018, the International Confederation of Trade Unions (ITUC) included the Philippines in the 10 worst countries for workers’ rights.

Statement on the 30th Year of the Tiananmen Square Massacre

On April 15, 1989, Chinese students and citizens from all over the mainland assembled in front of Tiananmen Square to engage in demonstrations criticizing and seeking accountability from the ruling Chinese Communist Party. While the students and assembled groups varied in their demands and concerns, they were unanimous in their demand for democratization, greater government accountability as well as expansions on the freedom of the press and speech. Instead of meeting and conceding to these demands, the State Council ordered the mass murder of the demonstrators on June 4, 1989, thirty years past to the date today.

To this day, the casualty count of the event varies. While official Chinese government estimates would continue to downplay the statistics, independent witnesses worldwide would in fact place the number between several hundred and close to 1,000 dead—mostly students and workers. The results of this massacre and the political paranoia that rippled throughout society halted any further attempts at democratizing Chinese society, turning it into the totalitarian society it is today. Any oppressive action that the Beijing politburo has taken under the panoptic eye of President Xi Jinping owes its existence since to the events of Tiananmen.

Whether the Chinese government will ever own up to its responsibility or not, the event continues to be a grim and bloody stain on the history of the Chinese Communist Party. Originally a movement forged for the liberation of the Chinese people from Western and Japanese imperialism, it has transmogrified itself in the 20th century into one of the biggest imperialist, capitalist, and human rights-violating power in Asia. They would even rather consign this event to the vagueness of historical amnesia, labelling it the June Fourth Incident (Chinese: 六四事件, liùsì shìjiàn).

The Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO), together with social movements within the Kalipunan ng Kilusang Masa (KALIPUNAN) signed below, remembers this day with reflection, continuing outrage and heartfelt solidarity to the families of its victims (still yet to achieve justice). We take inspiration and recognition of the sacrifices of these Chinese youth, workers and citizens, who chose to hope for a freer and more equal Chinese society—and whose dreams were brutally crushed under heel of a government and party who lost its mandate and priorities. 

Furthermore, we express solidarity for a rising generation of awakened Chinese citizens, including those who are in prison and in exile, who know the kind of oppressive society they live in and would continue to risk confronting the heavy-handed state machineries head-on—all in the name of a democratic and less-stratified Chinese society. That our values and aspirations coincide in opposition to a dictatorial government (the very same one that supports the dictatorial and death-dealing regime of the Philippine President, Rodrigo Duterte) only shows the historical legacy we share and seek to live up to.

Let it be clear: the problem is the authoritarian regime of Xi Jin Ping and his Party that continues to centralize power, enrich their partisans, while keeping its citizens and neighbours under its heel; not the Chinese people.

The Chinese Communist Party would rather we forget those who fell in 1989. But not us; never us. This time, we have to ensure that the international working peoples and social movements will stand behind the Chinese people as they struggle to let not only a hundred, but millions of flowers bloom in China.

Kalipunan ng mga Kilusang Masa (KALIPUNAN)
Sentro ng Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO)
Coalition Against Trafficking in Women – Asia Pacific (CATW-AP)
Kilos Maralita (KM)
Partido Manggagawa (PM)
Youth and Students Advancing Gender Equality (YSAGE)
Labor Education and Research Network (LEARN)

Philippines: Holcim workers demand justice

For years contractual workers at the Holcim cement plant in Davao have demanded regular employment, in line with Philippine law. Last year they filed a complaint with the Department of Labor and Employment, however in March 140 contract workers were laid off, while non-union workers were offered new employment contracts. Since then the workers have been picketing the factory, but in May they found out the owner of the plant – multinational cement giant LafargeHolcim – is planning on selling the factory to notoriously anti-union Filipino conglomerate San Miguel. On May Day the workers’ picket line was violently attacked by thugs, and the union is convinced that Holcim is responsible for the attack. These workers need justice, not violence and repression.

Sign the petition here:

https://www.labourstartcampaigns.net/show_campaign.cgi?c=4110&fbclid=IwAR2xp3Y64_znB623-t9b29XQ2d6xZDoVN-ipB26mXbhyEV-AuGlQdOH4Nn0