Category Archives: Security of Tenure SOT

SENTRO Statement for International Labor Day 2018

“Panahon na ng paniningil.”

Two years after his election, Rodrigo Duterte continues to demonstrate his inability to deliver the promises of change and progress he sold to the Filipino people. The list of his transgressions against the working class is growing: failure to end contractualization, wanton loss of lives thru the war on drugs, more tax burdens via to TRAIN, high prices as inflation rise to new heights, low wages and wholesale destruction of jobs from PUJ phase out, the closure of Boracay and now the possible forced repatriation of 260,000 migrant Filipino workers from Kuwait.

It is time to hold Mr. Duterte to account! It is time to express our indignation and reiterate our demands!

Today, workers under the banner of SENTRO will pour out into the streets of Manila, Cebu, Davao and General Santos to join the nationwide indignation rallies led by NAGKAISA and KMU.

It would be a remiss not to highlight that organized labor’s attempts at public and constructive engagement with the Duterte regime was met with disappointment at nearly every step of the way. The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has already disillusioned us when Labor Secretary Bello issued Department Order No. 174 which legitimized labor contracting even more. Since then, SENTRO, together with NAGKAISA and KMU have been negotiating the issuance of an executive order (E.O.) that would correct DO 174 and realign DOLE policies as well as ‘guide’ the Legislative Branch towards amending the Labor Code to make direct hiring as the norm.

Acknowledging the need for reciprocity, the workers’ draft E.O. has moved “from total prohibition of contractualization to a framework of prohibition of contractualization that would allow certain exemptions for contracting out of work, but subject to the decision of the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council”. And yet, despite promises to review the draft since February 2018, nothing has been settled to this very day—while Secretary Bello, President Duterte himself and their mouthpieces continue to paint the working peoples’ organizations as “selfish hardliners.” Clearly, the Duterte regime is negotiating with organized labor in bad faith.

SENTRO, together with the whole of NAGKAISA, is unequivocal in this: never in the history of employment relationship in the country has workers enjoying regular employment and implementation of strict rules in labor contracting been detrimental to the economy and job generation.

The only consolation we have, right now, is that House Bill No. 6908, the Security of Tenure Bill, was finally passed at the House of Representatives — the farthest it has reached since the post-EDSA period.

And yet, Filipino society still have very little to take comfort with. The past year has been a continuous string of disappointments and embarrassments not even the worst of our previous presidents will be caught doing red-handed. This has not only compromised the standing of the Philippine government as an institution, it is also starting to diminish the country’s standing as a member of the international community.

SENTRO is gravely concerned over the continuous creeping of authoritarianism in nearly all aspects of our country’s political life. Any semblance of “separation and balance of powers” as designed by the 1987 Constitution has been steadily eroded—with the persistence of a “rubber-stamp” Congress under the leadership of Pantaleon Alvarez and Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III. The unconstitutional ouster attempt against Supreme Court Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is clearly aided and abetted by her own fellow Associate Justices—not out of visible judicial independence, but clear marching orders from Malacañang. This is once again eroding the credibility of the highest court in the land, something that it has already tried to claw out of the past five years.

Our basic constitutional rights to freedom of organization, freedom of expression and freedom of information are also denied and quashed without a second thought. The harassment of long-standing mass media institutions such as ABS-CBN, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, and even independent journalist outfits like Rappler continue unabated and unquestioned. Not only is the Duterte regime not willing to respect the social mandate of the Fourth Estate—it even dares to fabricate its own subservient propaganda machine to an extent not even dreamt of during the Marcos years.

No civil society organization, independent government body or religious organization, as long as they dare to oppose the Duterte regime, is safe. The continued harassment and killing of labor sector, agrarian reform and indigenous tribal leaders, the indignities pilloried against the Commission on Human Rights and the investigations of the International Criminal Court, the deportation of Sister Patricia Fox, and the assassination of Fr. Mark Ventura of Cagayan are likely only to be the first of many more crimes against the people that the Duterte regime will visit upon us.

And yet, even these pale in comparison with the high cost of human life the carelessness of the Duterte administration has wrought over the past two years. The human casualty of his bogus War on Drugs continues to balloon to the twenty thousands. It remains a bona-fide war on the poor, the helpless and those denied due process. The ruins and bakwits of Marawi continue as a mute-yet-loud testament to the failure not only of the leadership of our armed forces to resolve the threat of terrorism and extremism efficiently, but also the dismantling and disillusion of hope for recapturing peace in Mindanao. All of this, under the first Mindanaoan president.

All of our problems have only grown, with their toll becoming only more real and inhuman by the day. It would require not only the efficiency and empathy of our own government, but also the help and good-will of our international neighbors and trade partners. Yet under Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippine state has only built walls, killed without second thought, and destroyed the lives of our countrymen. It embraced not the international community of solidarity, dignity, and freedom, but the Axis of conquest, dominion, authoritarianism and lies, emblematized by imperialist China, the United States, North Korea and Russia.

SENTRO, together with other organizations of the working peoples all over the country, as well as the rest of our country men tired with the bogus and failed promises of a small-town bully, reiterate what we said last year. Workers’ and trade union rights cannot genuinely exist if human and democratic rights are compromised and thrown to the gutter.

As such, SENTRO will march today to demand that Mr. Duterte live up to his promise to end contractualization by issuing labor’s version of the E.O. and certify as urgent a security of tenure bill that would make direct hiring as the norm.

Today we march for human rights – political, economic and socio-cultural! We demand an end to extra judicial killings; a just transition program for all those affected by the phase out of PUJs and the closure of Boracay Island; and, a comprehensive reintegration program for all migrant workers. We demand the strict implementation of “no relocation, no demolition” policy and the prioritization of People’s Plans to resolve the housing crisis. We demand an end to misogyny and the advancement of the protection of women’s rights and welfare, including the passage of the Extended Maternity Leave.

Today, we march as one – a unified labor movement!

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.

 

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!

Workers to Duterte: fulfill your promise, get rid of endo!

President Duterte should immediately fulfill his campaign promise to end the prevalent practice of contractualization, more popularly known as “endo,” the Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) said on Tuesday as they staged their annual “the Passion of Christ the Worker” in observance of the Lenten season, which reenacts the many “crosses” of most Filipinos that weigh them down.

“Endo is the widespread practice of companies to consign workers to a life of poverty through endless cycles of fixed term employment,” according to Josua Mata, Sentro’s Secretary General, adding that the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and even the Secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment, wants to perpetuate.

After almost two years, the campaign promise of President Duterte to end contractualization remains to be delivered. This begs the question, said Mata: was the president even serious with his promise to the workers when he was still campaigning for the highest position in the government?

Rather than put an end to “endo” and ease the pain of the working people, the Duterte administration even piled more burdens like the anti-poor TRAIN law, the continued imposition of a “low wage policy” amidst a rising inflation and the horrific human rights violations stemming from the so-called “war on drugs” that has victimized mostly the working poor.

Meanwhile, the quality of jobs being generated remains to be low. The latest Labor Force Survey shows that while the employment rate rose to 94.7 percent in January this year from 93.4 percent in the same month last year, resulting to the generation of an additional 2.4 million jobs in the last quarter, the country’s underemployment rate during the same period rose to 18 percent from 16.3 percent last year. This means that 626,064 workers were “employed” but still “desire to have additional hours of work in their present job, or to have additional job, or to have a new job with longer working hours.”

Government should not use the long worn-out assertion that contractual jobs are better than no jobs at all, Mata warned. He added that we shouldn’t use employment data to reduce the workers’ condition into mere numbers. “So long as contractualization remain widespread, the country will not be able to rid itself of poverty,” Mata said.

“Contractual workers live bits-and-pieces of their lives, they cannot plan their future beyond the five or six months contracts given to them,” says Mata adding that these workers employed precariously include millions of college graduates, women caught up in abusive labor condition, and the migrant workers scattered around the world.”

End contractual work, end poverty!