Category Archives: Solidarity Message

SENTRO Solidarity Statement for the Release of Han Sang-gyun

The Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) send its heartfelt congratulations to Brother Han Sang-gyun, former President of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), for his release from prison last May 21. Together with KCTU we stand proud and happy regarding this positive development—a clear moral and political victory for the solidarity of the working classes.

Brother Han’s imprisonment is just one of the many violations and intimidations employed against the working peoples of the world when they stand up for their rights. Accused of leading “violent action”, Brother Han’s only action was to lead the organizing for the mass mobilization of 130,000 people against the now-deposed government of Park Geun-hye in November 2015. The release of Brother Han is a vindication—one not written by the courts and government of South Korea, but by history, one that will look favorably on him for sparking the light of freedom in South Korea since 2016.

That said, we acknowledge that the fight is not yet over. Brother Han’s fellow KCTU officer, Secretary General Lee Young-Joo, remains in prison. Many other political prisoners of the Park years remain languishing in their holding rooms. Despite the ascension of left-leaning President Moon Jae-In under the mandate of representing the Candlelight Revolution, the continued imprisonment of Sister Lee and other like her would continue to put the lie on the promise of change.

We in the Philippines share South Korea’s joy in their current exercise of reforming society through democratic revolution and representation. At the same time, our country’s history of reversals, witness how our own EDSA Revolutions eventually ended up with the fascist regime of Rodrigo Duterte, may serve as a warning. Indeed, popular democracy will always be a work in progress. And the working peoples of the world can only continuously rely on themselves and those willing to dream an equal and equitable world. Only by vigilance, dignified dissent and an educated people may the fruits of liberation be protected.

So we in SENTRO and the working peoples of the Philippines, while celebrating Brother Han’s release, also join in your on-going calls:

Free Lee Young-Joo!
Free all trade unionists and prisoners of conscience!
Organize! Fight! Win!

Sentro’s statement on issues of domestic workers in Kuwait

Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) shares the jubilation of hundreds of thousands of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) for the recent positive development in the diplomatic row between the Kuwaiti and the Philippine governments.

As part of the resolution, the Kuwaiti government announced last 9 May 2018 that the concerns of all migrant domestic workers will henceforth be handled by the Labor Department. In other words, migrant domestic workers will now be considered as workers!

This is a major victory for more than half a million migrant domestic workers in Kuwaiti, including Filipinos. It is the culmination of years of work by SANDIGAN, together with the Kuwait Trade Union Federation (KTUF) and the International Labour Organization (ILO).

“We are very pleased with the Kuwaiti government’s decision,” Mary Ann Abunda, head of SANDIGAN, said. “We could not have done it without the help of the KTUF,” she added.

SANDIGAN, a Filipino migrant rights advocacy group in Kuwait, was one of the first to raise the red flag of alarm when a group of media-attention-hungry Philippine officials staged a ‘heroic’ rescue operation for several OFWs. Rather than promote the protection of OFWs, their brazenness actually endangered the lives of OFWs in Kuwait.

SENTRO commends all the OFWs who had petitioned both the Philippine and the Kuwaiti governments to resolve the issue at the earnest, and kudos to the individuals from both parties who work silently to resolve the case, far from the media limelight.

SENTRO also commends the Kuwait government for its part in the solution and the tacit admittance that it needs the skills, intelligence, and caring hands of the OFWs.

“The decision of the Kuwaiti government is definitely a step in the right direction. But more needs to be done, Josua Mata, Secretary General of SENTRO, said.

SENTRO urges the Kuwaiti government to abolish the dreaded ‘kafala system’ or the sponsorship system that leaves migrant workers vulnerable to abuse.

At the same time, SENTRO is calling on the Philippine government to intensify the effort of securing memorandum of agreements with other countries, particularly in the Middle East, to protect the rights and welfare Filipino migrant workers.

This is essentially the responsibility and reason for being of the various Philippine consular and diplomatic offices scattered all over the planet—to protect their own citizens, and not to conspire with foreign and local agencies and individuals for monetary and other purposes.

Finally, SENTRO urges the government to develop an industrial policy that would ensure regular and decent work for all in the country and institute a re-integration program. Then and only then can we make migration as real choice for our workers.

Solidarity Message on the Seoul Protests

More than 20 trade union leaders and members now imprisoned including 7 KCTU leaders and officials

More than 20 trade union leaders and members now imprisoned including 7 KCTU leaders and officials

The Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) sends its message of solidarity to the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) and the protesting peoples of South Korea in their historic protest to oust President Park Geun-hye. With the scandals that rocked her administration as well as being one of the major architects of South Korea’s pivot to neoliberalism, exclusive growth, American-backed realpolitik and nigh-authoritarian rule, her ouster would be a welcome boon to restoring and strengthening democracy in the country
and in Asia.

It is perhaps needless to highlight how President Park Geun-hye’s leadership serves as an uncomfortable reminder of her being the dictator Park Chung-hee’s daughter. Her laundry list of offenses against Korean democracy and the workers’ movements would take too long to enumerate. However, it would perhaps be enough to openly condemn the following:

  • her continuing maintenance of the US-ROK Alliance (which has been in place since 1953), that maintains 28,000 troops in South
    Korea;
  •  how the labor market reforms she pushes for has condemned the growing population of Korean skilled and professional workers to precarious conditions, as well undermine the power of South Korean labor unions;
  • her dissolution of opposition political parties
  • human rights abuses against labor leaders and opposition lawmakers (the most recent being the death of farmer Baek Nam-gi last November 2015, after being hit by high-pressure water cannons during a protest action); and,
  • most infuriatingly, her government’s “backdoor deal” with Japan to not pursue reparations of behalf of South Korean “comfort women” exploited by the Japanese army during
    the Second World War.

These injuries to the working peoples of South Korea are
all too familiar scars to the Philippines’ social and political history. As
ourselves victims of Japanese imperialism during the Second World War, a
twenty-year dictatorship under Ferdinand Marcos, and an on-going thirty-year
sham of a liberal democratic republic under six elitist presidents, we know
that protecting and realizing the fruits of democratic politics never happens
overnight.

It is thus with admiration that we watch the citizens of
South Korea trooping to Seoul to fight for what is right, what is necessary,
what is progressive. It is with wonder that we look at Seoul’s local government
officials standing with the people against its repressive police force. It is
with inspiration that we can intone: the fight for democracy is not yet over.

It is our belief and hope that should the democratic
people of South Korea achieve its purpose, it may yet become one of the few
shining lights of the world for democratic, people-oriented politics—an island
of hope in the midst of a world slowly sliding into distrust, hate and
authoritarian fantasies.

We thus stand and fight with your people. May you
continue to show the people of Asia that a democratic, proudly and
independently Asian, as well as a globally-sensitive society is possible! May
you fling a light into the future of the region!

Solidarity Message to Central Única dos Trabalhadores (CUT) Brazil

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VAGNER FREITAS
President
Central Única dos Trabalhadores (CUT)
575 Rua Cartano Pinto, São Paulo, Brazil
[email protected], [email protected]

JOÃO ANTONIO FELICIO
President
INTERNATIONAL TRADE UNIONS CONFEDERATION (ITUC)
Brussels, Belgium
[email protected]

In behalf of the members and officers of the Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (Sentro) – Center of United and Progressive Workers, a national labor center here in the Philippines and an ITUC member like the CUT – we extend our utmost and militant solidarity with the Brazilian labor movement led by CUT as well as its political party, the Partido dos Trabalhadores, amid the ongoing rightist “congressional coup” against President Dilma Rousseff and her PT-led government.

Sentro is aware that behind the anti-corruption campaign that resulted to Rousseff’s impeachment by the Chamber of Deputies last April 17 is a complex and sinister plot not only to oust her but ultimately to dismantle the PT government and discard all its vast socioeconomic achievements since the historic election of trade unionist Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and PT in 2003. Rousseff succeeded Lula in 2011 and continued his flagship programs marked by both progressive and more inclusive economy coupled with the strengthening of trade union and workers’ rights and the civil liberties.

But all these and other landmark socioeconomic programs that benefited and continue to benefit the majority of the Brazilian people will either be abolished or diluted when the conservatives wrest control of the government by impeaching Rousseff through trumped-up charges. Prominent personalities behind this drive include Eduardo Cunha, president of the Chamber of Deputies and architect of the impeachment; Michel Temer, Rousseff’s vice president and the acting president-in-waiting if the Senate will affirm on May 11 the Lower House’s impeachment of Rousseff; and Jair Bolsonaro, the shameless rightist congressman, bigot and apologist of Brazil’s past military dictatorship. They represent the conservative elites that want to reclaim the state power even through the backdoor or the current “coup” and will snatch back the gains painstakingly achieved by Brazil’s trade unions and other social movements. These three shady politicians are also in fact the ones who are truly involved in corruption, and not Rousseff, who is being slapped with unsubstantiated charges.

Moreover, other strategic thrust of this “coup” – as under the Brazilian Constitution, an impeachment without a qualifying crime is considered a coup – is to prevent the return of the very popular Lula in the next presidential polls in 2018.

Related to this, reflecting the frightful rising of a “new Right” or neofascism, Bolsonaro has been earning additional believers as shown in surveys among the presidential hopefuls two years from now, wherein his poll numbers have increased “from 6 percent to 8 percent since March, putting him within 20 points of the leading candidates,” a report said.

There is definitely a pressing need for the labor and social movements to stem the rising tide of rightwing politics in Latin America and elsewhere in the world – including, in fact in the United States with the like of Donald Trump and even here in the Philippines in the person of the presidential frontrunner, the budding neofascist Rodrigo Duterte. We must consolidate and strengthen our ranks to stop the overthrowing by force, deceit or “legal” maneuvers of democratic leftist or populist or pro-worker governments as we must continue fighting unjust governments.

Indeed, we must preserve and expand the gains achieved by the labor movement in the past hundred years or so as we must persevere to building just, prosperous, peaceful and democratic societies.

In solidarity,

 

FRANK MERO                            JOSUA MATA
Chairperson                              Secretary General