Tag Archives: Security of Tenure (SOT)

Delete Anti-Labor Phrase in the BBL

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The Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) is appealing to the Senators for the removal of the phrase “in accordance with the law to be passed by the Bangsamoro parliament” in the BBL, referring to the fundamental rights of the workers.

The offending phrase is in section 10 on labor rights under Senate Bill 1717, the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law currently under deliberation in the Senate.

“While we support the enactment of the proposed legislation, we are disturbed at the notion that a universal and fundamental right such as workers’ rights would be subject to the whims of a regional government,” Josua Mata, Secretary General of SENTRO said in a statement.

The placement of the phrase is also critical as it was formulated to include key phrases such as the right to self-organization, collective bargaining agreement, and the right to strike, the labor leader said. The formulation is such that these rights would be contingent on the interests of the future parliament, which may not necessarily be in favor of the working people.

According to Mata, if global experience is an indicator, a decentralized judiciary and policy making on labor standards do not inspire confidence, consistency of implementation, or hope of protection.

Experiences in India and Pakistan show that the imposition of national laws regarding labor rights hardly happen in their autonomous regions because the local elites would usually invoke “regional autonomy,” Mata said. In the United States of America, most well-known country with decentralized governments, 28 states have imposed Right to Work legislation that prohibits union security clauses in collective bargaining, thereby weakening the labor movement.

There is no reason why the same thing could not happen in the Philippines. The weakening of the central government’s capacity to regulate erring local elites amidst entrenched political dynasties, the impunity of local political magnates is pretty much guaranteed. The local labor movement will be left without any recourse or support from any other level of government, considering the very possible invocation “domestic concerns” as a ready excuse.

Indeed, we see a grim horizon for the labor movement should the offensive phrase in the BBL is retained.

Mata also noted that the proponents of indigenous people’s rights succeeded in convincing lawmakers to put stronger provisions protective of their rights by specifically invoking the IPRA Law. “If they can ensure incorporation of IPRA, then why can’t they do the same with labor,” he added.

Labor group urges Duterte to follow through with his warning vs. abusive employers

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Labor Day 2016 photo

The Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa or SENTRO welcomes the President’s warning to companies to immediately desist from abusing contractualization. To bolster the President’s pronouncement to end contractualization in the country, SENTRO urges Duterte to come up with the list of top 1,000 corporations who are known to violate contracting and monitor their compliance in the next 3 months.

“Truth is, the abusive use of contractual employment is malignant. Almost all industries are widely infected,” Frank Mero, Chairperson of SENTRO announced. “Putting the top 1,000 violators on notice will clearly signal that this pernicious practice has to end now,” he added.

For years, SENTRO, NAGKAISA and the whole labor movement have been pushing for the passage of the Security of Tenure (SOT) bill that is aimed at plugging the loopholes in the labor code that allow companies to evade the regularization of workers.

SENTRO is a national labor center that was established in 2013 with membership covering workers from major industries and sectors nationwide. NAGKAISA is an alliance of some 40 major trade unions and labor federations in the country.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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File photo

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

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

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

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

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

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

Workers reenact Christ’s ‘present calvaries’

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IN OBSERVANCE of the Lenten season, members of the national labor center Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa staged today in Mendiola Bridge, near Malacañang, a “people’s version” of the Passion Play depicting the many contemporary “crosses” being carried by the workers and the ordinary Filipinos.

Some protesters dressed as Roman soldiers use papier-mâché spears – representing low wages and scarce benefits, contractualization, union-busting practices, unabated price hikes of basic commodities and services, worsening poverty despite GDP “growths,” inefficient and costly public facilities like the MRT-LRT, elite democracy, patriarchy, war in Mindanao, neoliberal policies, etc. – to symbolically pierce and further hurt an actor playing as “Kristong Manggagawa,” a crucified Christ or a suffering worker.

“The Filipinos continue to suffer today under the Aquino government as Christ endured untold suffering under the tyrannical Roman Empire in the past,” Sentro said.

“President Aquino’s Tuwid na Daan has led nowhere for the working class,” Jun Santos, SENTRO campaign officer said. “After 5 years, all we got is worsening inequality,” he added.

The country’s worsening inequality – which Pope Francis called “glaring and scandalous” – is not just the result of low wages, but of a highly discriminatory form of labor regime that allows companies to put a premium on profits rather than the welfare of its workers.

“One of the worst features of today’s capitalism is the rampant use of precarious work. Contractualization and informalization of labor are the most common forms of precarious work,” Santos said. It didn’t help that President Aquino himself violated his commitment to “promote… constitutionally protected rights of workers,” found in his 21-agenda point agenda for labor and employment, by consistently ignoring calls to certify as urgent labor’s demand for the passage of the security of tenure bill or the SOT bill.

“What we need is a radical form of democracy, one where the rights and welfare of the working people, not profits, is at the center of policy making,” Santos declared.

Christ’s passion on the cross should remind us of our responsibility to participate in a historic struggle, to build a better world, one that we truly deserve. “Thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven.”