Category Archives: statement

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

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.

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.

NO HARMONIZATION, NO SUPPORT FOR END ENDO LEGISLATION

We, various labor groups comprising the majority of NAGKAISA, are denouncing, in the strongest possible term, the passage of the non-harmonized version of the Security of Tenure (SOT) bills. This is clearly a product of treachery by the leadership of both Houses, working in cahoots with employers, to hijack the process to undermine workers’ final push for a better law through the harmonization of HB6908 and SB1826 at the bicam level. 

With the House adopting SB 1826 en toto, our dream of having stronger anti-contractualization provisions in the Labor Code is dead!

It was arbitrary on the part of the House leadership to bypass the House panel tasked to harmonize the provisions on the SOT bills, particularly: 

1. Prohibition of fixed-term employment and of multi-layered contracting found in the HOR version must be incorporated in the Senate version.

2. The strong provisions of the HB 6908 on fines and penalties, including closures of agencies guilty of labor only contracting must be included. 

3. The derogation of solidary liability of the principal and the contractors in the Senate version, when Title II, Book III was inserted, and must be corrected.

An impending anti-endo legislation that does not meet these bottom line issues is not worthy of support. Absent the harmonization of this demand in the final version, our collective response is outright rejection. ###

Labor group calls for urgent action to help an OFW beaten in Malaysia

An overseas Filipino worker beaten almost to death in Kuching, State of Sarawak, Malaysia needs an urgent assistance from the Philippine government, Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (Sentro) said in a statement.

Penny Fritz Gutierrez Pido, 39 who is currently in Borneo Medical Centre in Kuching is slowly recuperating from severe lacerations to her scalp, a broken hand and wrist, and a broken leg. Her employer, a British family based in Malaysia, is the suspected perpetrator.

“Philippine embassy’s response is very slow,” said Josua Mata, Sentro’s Secretary General, who met with the Philippine Labor Attaché in Malaysia on Friday, May 24.

According to Mata, “as of today [May 24] no Philippine official has visited Pido and that the Philippine embassy’s lawyer is planning to visit the victim next Wednesday, May 29, adding “the planned visit may prove too late and will pose a complication for any legal actions needing Pido’s presence because her visa’s expiration is on May 29, 2019.”

The government should looked into this, Mata said, acknowledging that Senator Joel Villanueva called up already the Philippine embassy in Malaysia “but the executive department should be on top of this, particularly the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Labor Department.”

“This case is yet an addition to our rather long list of reasons why the government should focus on developing the local economy to prevent forced labor migration. If you have no choice but to work abroad for lack of enough employment in the Philippines, then its really a ‘forced’ labor migration,” Mata said.

According to initial reports, the assault to Pido happened on May 8 and she was brought to the hospital in May 9. Her male employer left for Britain in May 7, a day before the incident. She was brought to the hospital by her female employer, the suspect, and was threatened against reporting to Malaysian authorities. The employer refuses to pay the hospital bill which last week has already reached 30,000 Malaysian ringgit (RM), or about Php373,800. The female employer and two children remain in Malaysia.

Pido’s male employer reportedly returned to Great Britain on the day of the incident while the wife and other family members remain in Malaysia.

A local politician in Malaysia who posted in his facebook update about the incident in May 16 was instrumental in providing initial public awareness of the case, when acting on a tip off, he contacted a local police official to investigate the case. The post was picked up by other concerned OFWs and relayed to other channels.

Pido is now accompanied by a younger sister in the hospital and waiting for a visit from Philippine officials.

Failing the People : Statement on 2019 Election Results

Social movements against Charter Change are deeply alarmed that winners are declared for senator and partylist despite many irregularities documented in the 2019 midterm elections, including in vote counting and canvassing. 

COMELEC has been amiss in explaining these irregularities in full detail and with transparency, and has not directly challenged overt vote-buying nor the President’s public statement that coax the Filipino masses to accept vote-buying as the norm during elections.

As a result, we believe that the way this election was conducted has tarnished the integrity and credibility of this democratic process. The election is a pivotal exercise that determines the direction and mode of political and economic development in our country.  This newly-elected set of national legislators and local officials will be critical in advancing the shift to a federal form of government by the Duterte administration through Charter Change (ChaCha).  

Given the pronouncements during the campaign period of the declared winners, the overwhelming majority of them favor the shift to a federal constitution, clearly prioritizing the interests of foreign investors and the elite over the oppressed majority. They sing the same tune as former President Gloria Arroyo, who only yesterday was asking the Senate to fast-track ChaCha.  Given the track record of Hugpong ng Pagbabago senators, including the co-ownership of mining companies by Senator Cynthia Villar’s family, the brokering by Angara family of economic zone accused of land-grabbing by farmers and indigenous peoples, they will not hesitate to remove the 40% limit to foreign ownership of corporations undertaking exploration of our natural resources.

Most likely ,  this incoming Congress will also support the Duterte administration’s kill policies – the death penalty, lowering of the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility, extension and expansion of Martial Law and the continuation of the war on drugs.  KALIPUNAN resolves to fight and reject these anti-poor and anti-people policies.

As this electoral process is crucial, and hands the future of the most marginalized among us in the hands of winning politicians leaning towards Charter Change and kill policies, the electoral process must first be beyond reproach.

The COMELEC must investigate and explain the irregularities that happened surrounding the elections, including evidences of pre-shading of ballots, intimidation of local governments, uncounted votes of partylists in numerous precincts, the lack of transparency, the failure of Voting Registration Machines (VRMs), the conking out of Vote Counting Machines (VCMs), the lack of ballot marking pens that are used to blot the ballot, rendering these as spoiled votes. Other issues are still being elevated to the court such as the choice of a Duterte-allied party to be the dominant minority party for monitoring. 

We support the call of the Parish Pastoral Council on Responsible Voting (PPCRV) and the Kapisanan ng Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), for the COMELEC to open all recording devices related to the Transparency Server to all stakeholders.  We also share the belief that involving as many stakeholders as possible to observe the transparency server can only enhance the integrity of this election.   COMELEC must act immediately, and must not allow itself to be abused by fascist tendencies of an administration that plans to install a constitutional dictatorship. 

Green Convergence Movement
In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement
Kalipunan ng mga Kilusang Masa

Labor to Duterte: Instruct your senators not to obstruct security of tenure bill’s passage

(Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News)

Instead of merely expressing optimism for Congress to pass Security of Tenure (SOT) Bill, Mr. Duterte, at the very least, should instruct his allies in the Senate not to obstruct the enactment of SBN 1826 or the End of Endo Act of 2018.

“Almost sounding like a squeak, the call asking the Congress to pass measures that will fully protect workers’ rights especially to security of tenure and self-organization is uncharacteristic of the president who usually expresses policy instructions in colorful language,” observes Josua Mata, secretary general of Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at progesibong Manggawa (Sentro).

According to Mata, the 17th Congress have nine sessions left before the new Congress is called into order after the May election, and the Senate has yet to pass SBN 1826 on second and third reading.

“If they are really interested in supporting workers, the senators could simply forgo amending the bill. After all, the current version is already a compromise version,” Mata said.

To recall, according to Mata, re-electionist senator Cynthia Villar expressed her intention to introduce amendments to the SOT Bill, forcing the measure to enter a prolonged period of amendments.

“Failing to disclose her amendments until now, Senator Villar is silently but effectively killing the proposed security of tenure law,” Mata said. “The practice of declaring your intent to introduce amendment to a measure and then sitting on it is a favored tactic readily employed by legislators who do not want to be seen as opposing that bill,” he added.

There is no reason why the 17th Congress can’t pass the SOT Bill. “In fact, the Senate would take only a day to simply adopt the version of the House of Representatives, which was approved as early as January 2018,” Mata said.

Against this backdrop, Mata declared that, “the failure of the passage of the SOT is the failure of Mr. Duterte as a president!”

Labor Group Banking on Pro-Worker Senatoriables to Ensure the End of Endo for ALL Workers

Today, tens of thousands of workers belonging to Sentro ng mga Progresibo at Nagkakaisang Manggagawa (Sentro) would march, together with NAGKAISA, in Metro Manila, Cebu, Davao and General Santos to hold Mr. Duterte to account for his inability to deliver his campaign promise to end Endo.

Nagkaisa Labor Coalition

In Manila, a number of senatorial candidates like Bam Aquino, Chel Diokno and Erin Tañada would march with SENTRO leaders and members to press for the passage of the SOT Bill before the end of the 17th Congress.

“After 3 years, contractualization continues to be as prevalent as before,” said Josua Mata, secretary general of Sentro. “In fact, things turned from bad to worst after government policies like DO 174 legitimized the patently anti-labor practice of hiring non-regular workers,” Mata added.

The Security of Tenure Bill (SOT Bill) should have been enacted by time. Aside from being certified by the president, it was pushed by other worker-friendly senators. Unfortunately few senators like Cynthia Villar, a key ally of Mr. Duterte, seems intent on killing the bill.

“We would like to remind Mr. Duterte that it is his duty to ensure that SBN 1826 is enacted into law. As such, we demand that he order his minions in the Senate to stop blocking its passage,” Mata said.

The 17th Congress still has 9 session days to go before it adjourns. That should be enough time to shepherd the SOT bill into law.

“For the May 13 election, we are asking the workers not to vote for senatorial candidates, especially those seeking reelection, who are not willing to support the SOT bill,” Mata added.

SENTRO bemoans the fact that the administration’s senatorial candidates are deafening quiet about the need for the passage of the SOT Bill. This does not auger well for the working people.

Only the SOT bill can ensure that workers can actually access their constitutionally guaranteed rights – to organize, collectively bargain and to wage concerted actions. Without the SOT Bill, the country’s growth will continue to benefit only a handful of Filipinos – the top 1% of our population. This is patently unacceptable.

“We need legislators who will continue to work on ensuring security of tenure not just for the private sector, but of equal importance, of the public sector workers as well,” Mata said.  

For this reason, SENTRO is endorsing Bam Aquino, Chel Diokno, Erin Tañada, Samira Gutoc, Florin Hilbay and Sonny Matula as the working people’s preferred candidates for the Senate. SENTRO is also endorsing Akbayan and PM as the party-list of choice for its members.

Big workers’ groups press for end to contractualization, wage increase

Nagkaisa! Labor Coalition and Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU)–the largest labor groups in the country, convened on the eve of Labor Day to reiterate calls for an end to contractualization and push for the enactment of a Security of Tenure Law, while calling for increase in wages nationwide.

“We have long and consistently called for a just end to pervasive contractualization of labor, yet the practice of labor-only contracting, job-only contracting and other forms of flexible labor remain prevalent among the working people,” said Elmer Labog, chairperson of KMU.

Congress has nine more session days after the elections. Newly-elected legislators won’t begin their terms until after June 30. “The labor movement will defend workers’ rights to the last. With enough political will, President Rodrigo Duterte and his allies in the Senate can still have a Security of Tenure Law enacted during this Congress,” said Atty. Sonny Matula, chairperson of Nagkaisa.

Nagkaisa and KMU were together at the Senate in early February during the last few session days prior to the recess of Congress as they mounted pressure on the Senate to pass the Security of Tenure Bill.

“This will definitely continue the pressure on the Senate, especially its reelectionist senators to openly declare either their support or opposition to the proposed End Endo Law,” Matula said.

Ending contractualization is one of the biggest promises of President Rodrigo Duterte. Many believe it was one of the issues that catapulted him to the presidency among the working people in the public and private sectors.

“Two issuances under President Duterte’s watch—DOLE Department Order 174 in 2017 and Executive Order 51 on Labor Day last year—failed to solve, and perhaps worsened contractualization,” Labog said. Duterte then certified as urgent the SOT Bill. The Senate has not passed a Security of Tenure Bill despite also getting the commitment of Senate President Tito Sotto.

The Filipino workers unity will thrive and translate into votes and campaigns against contractualization and opponents of workers’ rights and benefits in the present and next Congress. “Filipino workers are proposing to clamp down on labor-only contractors by having a new law declaring labor-only contracting illegal, irrespective of a manpower agency’s capitalization or investment in equipment, and imposing heftier fines on erring employers and manpower agencies, way beyond the mere P1,000.00 that present laws provide,” Matula said.

“This is unacceptable. We cannot legitimize labor-only contractors, who do nothing but recruit and deploy workers, yet maintain supervision over contractual workers on paper. They connive with principal business owners to deprive workers of security of tenure and other basic labor rights, while avoiding legal and financial obligations,” Labog said.

House Bill 6908 on Security of Tenure was passed early this 17th Congress. Its counterpart measure, Senate Bill 1826 has yet to be passed on second reading. “The passage of the Bill is the necessary first step in changing the law towards prohibiting contractualization. While it may not result in the total ban on contractualization, we find it critical to put a stop to conditions that promote precarious work,” Matula said.

“Failure to enact a law that will end contractualization will be on the hands of the Senate. It will go down as ‘a legacy of failure’ and one of the greatest unfulfilled promises of President Rodrigo Duterte,” Labog said. The groups also said that government as an employer should walk the talk.

The nationwide unity of workers also calls for an increase in wages, especially the fulfillment of a national minimum wage, a stop to all attacks against workers and the full recognition of workers’ rights, especially the right to organize.

“A significant wage hike is long overdue. The sharp increase in inflation and cost of living has already eroded the value of existing wages. We call for an immediate wage increase, and a national minimum wage for all workers in the country,” Labog said.

Labor groups Kilos na Manggagawa, Metal Workers Alliance of the Philippines (MWAP) and BPO Industry Employees Network (BIEN) already filed wage hike petitions before the NCR Regional Wage Board last week. TUCP filed a wage hike petition yesterday.