Tag Archives: Labor Day

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!

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.

Workers to PNoy: Labor justice needs powerful execution, not endless dialogue

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A big march to Malacanang with simultaneous actions in other cities nationwide marked today’s celebration of Labor Day as workers protested the government’s failure to address their bottom line issues such as jobs and job security, living wage, trade union rights, and decent working and living conditions.

In Manila, thousands of workers from different federations and labor organization comprising the Nagkaisa! coalition marched from Mabuhay Welcome Rotonda to Mendiola under the theme, “Hustisya sa Manggagawa at Sambayanan.”

The cry for justice, according to Nagkaisa!, is labor’s summation of failed engagement with President Aquino, whom the group insisted, “never stood on the side of labor since the PAL dispute in 2011” despite the rhetoric of ‘tuwid na daan’.

“President Aquino should have learned a valuable lesson from his last minute intervention on Mary Jane’s case. That in order to move a quixotic boulder up the mountaintop, a firm decision and solid determination is needed — a resolve he never had in addressing labor problems during the last five years in office,” said Partido Manggagawa (PM) chair Renato Magtubo and one of Nagkaisa! convenors.

The group disclosed earlier that none of labor’s bottom line issues such as contractualization, low wages and power rates reduction have been addressed by Malacanang after four years of dialogues.

“During the last five years we didn’t ask President Aquino to produce miracles. Yet a simple certification of pro-labor measure such as the Security of Tenure bill to regulate contractualization did not even warrant his attention,” said Frank Mero, President of Sentro ng Nagkakaisang Manggagawa (Sentro), another convenor of Nagkaisa!

Labor justice, he added, needs a powerful execution not an endless dialogue.

Another convenor, Annie Geron of the Public Services Labor Confederation (PSLINK), public sector unions are disappointed that the President was not even aware of the fact that the government bureaucracy itself is implementing a widespread and worst kind of contractualization called ‘job orders’.

However, Nagkaisa! conceded that President Aquino has earned credits for saving the life of Mary Jane Veloso. But the group said that won’t change the fact that beyond his buzzer beater intervention on Mary Jane’s behalf, many labor issues that translate into social problems like human trafficking and the exodus of Filipinos to foreign lands persist.

“Filipino are hopelessly enmeshed in an unchanging political system serving the affluent elite and betraying the destitute millions. They sense that no one is fighting for them,” said Gerard Seno, Vice President of Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP)-Nagkaisa!

Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) President accused the Aquino administration of perpetuating the old system of elite rule.

“PNoy has resolutely protected controversial allies and lifted no fingers on political dynasties. But never had he shown a grain of disposition for the working class,” said De Guzman.

Other than Manila, labor marches were also held in the cities of Cebu, Iloilo, Bacolod, Davao, General Santos, and in Cavite and Laguna provinces.

Aquino no longer deserves any support from workers and trade unions

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General Santos City

THE workers and the trade unions throughout the world mark today the International Labor Day – 125th anniversary globally and 112th celebration here in the Philippines. This historic and revered day has been an enduring and stirring symbol for the working class despite serious setbacks caused by multipronged and systematic neoliberal attacks against the workers, the masses and their organizations, which have seriously threatened to dilute if not totally wipe out the hard-fought sociopolitical gains achieved by the labor movement in the past hundred years or so.

Our observance of May Day this year coincides with the Aquino government’s remaining one year in office highlighted by its legacies of an illusion of prosperity; selective anti-corruption drive; lackluster support if not outright rejection of many progressive proposals like the FOI (freedom of information) bill, deprivatization of public utilities, fast-tracking agrarian reform program, refusing neoliberal economic programs being imposed by multilateral institutions, among others; consenting to US interference in the country’s internal security policy; and rebuffing the trade unions and the civil society.

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Manila

Mass poverty is deteriorating despite the overhyped economic “growths” or successive GDP (gross domestic product) increases since Benigno Aquino III assumed the presidency in 2010. Ironically, the only thing constant in wealth issue here is that the majority poor are becoming poorer while the few rich are getting richer – the top 20-percent richest Filipinos own and control almost 50% percent (and counting) of the country’s wealth. What Aquino has attained is clearly not an inclusive growth as the GDP hikes are primarily translated into bigger profits for the country’s top corporations and increased assets for a handful of wealthy families every year.

FURTHER demonstrating this sham growth, the national economy has been unable to create sufficient, secure and decent jobs. Much of the employments claimed by the government in 2014 only are of poor quality. Hence, about 90 percent or 918,000 of the 1.02 million additional jobs last year were merely part-time work or those who worked for less than 40 hours. Still included here are self-employed workers (407,000) and those who worked without pay or unpaid family workers (292,000). No wonder millions of Filipinos seek better jobs and pays abroad despite the risks; thus, there would be many other Mary Jane Velosos to emerge.

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Manila

The acclaims for Aquino’s so-called “tuwid na daan” anticorruption campaign and “reform agenda” will come to naught because of his stubborn loyalty to and tolerance of corrupt and incompetent subordinates. His efforts will be reduced to nothing but a “grand double standard show.”

What Aquino is saying is increasingly becoming contradictory to what he is actually doing. For instance, while declaring “war” against corruption and other anomalies, he miserably failed to actively back the passage of the FOI bill – it could have greatly assisted in prosecuting or even preventing graft and corruption – which has been languishing for years in Congress. Likewise, he kept on parroting the worn out “free market” mantra in rejecting government intervention in inept public utility firms run by private companies (MRT-LRT, for example), which, for their bungling services, wanted the consumers to pay more! As expected, he has been abiding by the key neoliberal economic programs dictated by the likes of the World Trade Organization (WTO). And remember the land distribution under the agrarian reform program? Decades after it was launched by his mother in the late ’80s and a little one year left in his term, tens of thousands of hectares of lands are yet to be given to beneficiaries.

The Mamasapano incident has exposed the very obvious direct role of and cover-up attempts by Aquino in this tragedy, which resulted to the tragic and needless deaths of dozens of police troopers, Moro fighters and innocent civilians. It also utterly disregarded all the ceasefire mechanisms with the MILF and thus gravely jeopardizing the hard earned peace process. In fact, it enabled rightwing hawks and demagogues to fan the flames of Islamophobia and knee-jerk call to arms, and to demand the scrapping of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). Finally, it confirmed – although still downplayed – the undue influence or even unconstitutional engagements of the US on our foreign policy and internal security policy.

Davao City

Davao City

MOREOVER, SENTRO and its allied organizations in the labor movement, especially the NAGKAISA labor coalition, have through the years been dismayed by Aquino’s penchant to easily rebuff, if not show contempt for, our key labor, trade union and social demands.

From the very outset, Aquino practically ridiculed the SOT (security of tenure) bill in Congress, which could have significantly arrested the worsening contractualization that in turn perpetrates precarious work, cheap wages, measly benefits, and rampant violations of a long list of labor and trade union rights. He even claimed – and copied the wild theory devoid of empirical data – that 10 million workers would lose their jobs if the SOT bill is enacted into law! As a result, the predominantly pro-capitalist and pro-Aquino legislators have sat on the bill and thus it remains pending.

Unlike Aquino’s absurd theory on SOT, there is a study – ironically by the IMF or the International Monetary Fund no less – with empirical data to boot, which links rising inequality to the declining trade union membership. Falling number of union members is one of the principal effects of the absence of security of tenure since only regular workers (not contractuals) are allowed to join unions. The research’s (“Power from the People,” Finance and Development, March 2015, Vol. 52, No. 1) apparently simple but highly logical explanation is that with less union members, less workers are covered by CBAs (collective bargaining agreements). With less CBA coverage, fewer workers enjoy the benefits of supposed economic growth resulting to greater inequality. Likewise, fewer workers benefiting from this growth means fewer workers are effectively participating in the economy, which ultimately means a weaker economy.

THEREFORE, by persistently repudiating the SOT bill – as well as other pro-worker and pro-union policies – Aquino has actually exacerbated the inequality in the country!

Aquino has also openly reneged on his promise – during the elections and upon occupying Malacañang – that he would regularly sit down with labor representatives to prove that his “tuwid na daan” governance truly addresses the issues and concerns of the workers. In particular, Aquino vowed that there would be at least one labor-government meeting every quarter of each year. As it turned out, Aquino’s “dialogue” with labor leaders in April 2014 (preceded by a May 2012 meeting) was only their third and last meeting – with just a little over a year left in his term!

This could have likely prompted the eventual failure of labor’s key legislative and social demands to be certified as urgent measures by Malacañang and Congress: the SOT and FOI bills (as already cited); reasonable not almost worthless wage increases; substantial tax breaks for minimum wage earners; lowering the costs of electricity, transportation fares and other basic services and commodities; firm resolve to end the rising extrajudicial killings (EJKs), especially of trade union and social activists, journalists, etc.

ON THIS HALLOWED DAY for all workers and the organized labor, SENTRO, together with the NAGKAISA, will reassert our final break with the government of Aquino for his dismal record on promoting and protecting labor and trade union rights, and for turning his back on us by breaking his promises to us during his presidential campaign and early into his term when he needed us most. The workers and other basic sectors of society and their organizations hereby end any cooperation to his administration.

Let us take control again of the streets of Manila, Lipa, Cebu, Davao, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos, Cotabato and elsewhere to project working class unity and reaffirm our commitment to the historic mission of the working class to build a better world.

Mabuhay ang SENTRO!
Mabuhay ang NAGKAISA!
Mabuhay ang pagdiriwang ng Mayo Uno, ang Pandaigdigang Araw ng Paggawa!
Mabuhay ang kilusang paggawa sa Pilipinas at sa buong mundo!
Mabuhay ang uring manggagawa!
Uring manggagawa, hukbong mapagpalaya!