Category Archives: Unemployment

Labor group cautions gov’t about plans of hiring foreign workers for infra program, demands transparency on all the loans to be incurred

Photo by: Google

The government should first ensure that the foreign workers it is planning to hire en masse for its ambitious infrastructure program would enjoy the same rights and welfare as any local worker.

“Mr. Duterte can’t even improve the rights of local workers by living up to his promise to end contractualization, now he wants to add more workers from abroad to be exploited by his friends among the oligarchs,” said Josua Mata, Secretary General of Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO).

The Philippine Labor Code does not allow migrant workers employed in the country to join and form unions unless the same rights are given to Filipino migrant workers in their respective countries.

“Unless migrant workers are allowed to join or form unions in the destination country, labor standards in their line of work would most likely deteriorate,” Mata said.

Last week, Legaspi Representative Joey Salceda said that the Philippines is considering importing skilled construction workers from Burma and China once the so-called “golden age of infrastructure program” of the Duterte administration or Build Build Build gets into in full swing.

“It is also grossly insensitive of this government to even think of getting foreign workers to build the country’s planned infrastructure projects when we have not even addressed our own growing unemployment problem,” Mata said.

According to Salceda, the government would need 3.9 skilled labor force which the country cannot supply and is facing labor constraints as the growing demand for laborers like welders, carpentry, masonry and related skilled work construction could not be provided due to lack of training, adding that the construction industry needs more workers for the government’s infrastructure program and the demand could not be addressed by the K to 12 graduates unless they undergo Tesda training.

“Just like what Salceda himself said, K to 12 graduates can be trained by TESDA so why not concentrate on this training in the TESDA centers across the country?” added Mata.

“At the same time, government should make the wages for skilled Filipinos more competitive so that the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Kuwait and other parts of the globe who are skilled enough could have the option of coming home and take the challenge for themselves in the rebuilding and modernizing their own country,” Mata said.

According to Mata, to finance its [government] infrastructure program, “it would be spending huge amount of money squeezed from the taxes from millions of Filipinos augmented with foreign loans which in the end will be paid for again by Filipinos long after Mr. Duterte was out of office,” Mata said. “Hence the program should maximize utilizing local inputs including labor,” Mata added.

SENTRO warns government not to follow the footsteps of other countries who are now saddled with onerous loans from China, which as a condition, utilizes Chinese raw materials and labor.

“We urge Mr. Duterte and his economic managers and planners to disclose all conditionalities for loans to be used in this project and hold public consultations about plans on how to maximize these projects,” Mata said.

“Our country’s development is much too important for all of us to leave it in the hands of a few economic technocrats,” Mata concluded.

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.#

Time is up: The buck stops now with the President on the issue of endo

PRESS STATEMENT
NAGKAISA! Labor Coalition
28 February 2018

Contractualization was a top billing issue during the 2016 presidential election. And it was the President who made a campaign promise that the moment he becomes the Chief Executive, contractualization will stop. The trade union movement responded with enthusiasm and accorded the President the courtesy and latitude of managing his plans by participating in all the summits, workshops, and dialogues organized by the government on this issue.

Several times he asked leaders of Nagkaisa labor coalition that he be given more time to realize his pledge – the first was on February 27, 2017; then on May 1, 2017; and the last was on February 7, 2018 where he asked for another extension until March 15. On these occasions, President Duterte would always say that contractualization is anti-labor and anti poor as it brings in hardship and poverty upon millions of our workers.

Furthermore, it was also the President who asked Nagkaisa leaders during the Labor Day dialogue held in Davao last year to draft within 10 days an Executive Order (EO) that he can sign to correct the labor-rejected Department Order 174 issued by the Department of Labor and Empoyment (DOLE) in March last year and to rectify the more than two decades of failed framework of regulation. Nagkaisa religiously complied with all these processes and waited for the final response of the President.

Now, a few days before his self-imposed deadline and the President is no longer asking for time and more drafts but for a compromise. The buck stops now with President Duterte. The labor-drafted EO which seeks to bring back direct hiring and institutionalize prohibition as the general rule on contractualization but recognizes that there are types of jobs that can be contracted out as along as it passes through consultation with the National Tripartite and Industrial Peace Council (NTIPC) is the fairest middle ground or “compromise” that labor can take. A watered-down version of an EO is unacceptable.

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Nagkaisa hails passage of Security of Tenure Bill

Labor Coalition Nagkaisa! is satisfied over the passage on third reading of HB 6908 on the Security of Tenure at the House of Representatives.

Nagkaisa! said that “the SOT bill is a great improvement to existing legislation as it gives more teeth to the government by providing penalties for those who will violate the security of tenure laws.”

“This is the farthest a proposed law on SOT has gone for decades,” said Nagkaisa! “Now, it’s time to get the Senate moving on their proposed SOT measure.”

“HB 6908 gives more flesh and blood to the guaranteed right to security of tenure,” Nagkaisa! said. “It’s not perfect or ideal, but we can live with it,” said Nagkaisa!, the largest labor coalition in the country.

Fear of employers allayed

Nagkaisa! also addressed fears of employers who went on record saying that they will have a “big problem” if the proposed measure was passed. “If the big problem employers have about HB 6908 refers to the potential cutbacks in the windfall of profits a number of employers have been amassing through the massive abuse of workers via contractualization for decades, the bill intends to do just that,” Nagkaisa! said. “Employers who do not abuse workers through contractualization have nothing to fear,” Nagkaisa! added.

“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,” Nagakaisa! said.

“Job generation is a function of the development of sectors of the economy influenced by economic policies of the government, and not by labor contracting practices,” Nagkaisa explained.

A “serious problem” employers noted is that if the SOT bill becomes a law, it will be detrimental to the economy and job creation. Nagksaisa! countered the argument. “Workers with regular employment generate more income, thus, with more purchasing power contribute to increasing demand in goods and services that lead to higher income taxes and VAT for the government. These are all good for the economy,” said Nagkaisa.

“The fear that the HB can lead to unemployment is only possible if they are not paying their contractual employees what the law currently demands. In other words, their argument is an admission that they are doing business at the expense of workers’ rights – and they want to continue doing so,” Nagkaisa! added.

The recent statement by the employers didn’t specify which provisions of the bill they strongly disagree with.

Nagkaisa! said it was grateful to Labor Committee Chair Rep. Randolph Ting who steered the discussions and Rep. Raymond Mendoza of TUCP Partylist and Rep. Tom Villarin of Akbayan Partylist who co-authored the SOT Bill and helped defend it together with Nagkaisa.

Isang Bigong Taon: A failed one year for Digong – labor groups

Contractualization did not stop; wages remained low and regionalized; the unemployment and underemployment problems continue to weigh down on a large number of Filipino workers. “In sum, it was “Isang B(D)igong Taon” on the labor front for President Duterte’s first year in office,” stated various labor groups in their one year assessment of the President’s performance.

It can be recalled that the President made a campaign pledge that contractualization will stop the moment he becomes the President. He also vowed to raise wages and abolish the system of provincial rates.

“We tried to rate the President’s performance as objective as we can, but the outcomes for labor over his first 365 days have been generally wanting, have given us false expectations and given us many unfulfilled promises,” said the workers groups in a joint statement distributed to media during a demonstration held at the Boy Scout Circle in Timog Quezon City, Friday.

The mass action was organized by the Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (Sentro), Partido Manggagawa (PM), Federation of Free Workers (FFW), National Federation of Labor Unions (Naflu) and the Philippine Airlines Employees Association (Palea). Members of the World March of Women and Ateneo University’s Union of Students for the Advancement of Democracy (USAD) also joined the rally.

No end yet to endo

In a meeting on Labor Day, President Duterte asked labor groups to draft an Executive Order that would use prohibition of all forms of contractualization as a framework. This was after the unanimous rejection of labor groups of Department Order 174 issued by Labor and Employment Sec. Silvestre Bello III sometime in March. He also instructed the labor department to resolve with dispatch the years of dispute between PAL and PALEA on the issue of contractualization.

In response the labor groups submitted a unified draft together with the formal labor sector of the National Anti-Poverty Commission. But almost two months from its submission, the President has done no executive action to address the rampant contractualization.

“We have always advocated for a prohibition of all forms of contractualization and a stop to the abusive operations of manpower agencies and manpower cooperatives. The President himself at his assumption to power and in his first meeting with labor groups early this year openly expressed disgust over these as they ‘abused workers,’ using his words,” said the groups.

According to labor groups, DO 174 continues to permit contractualization and allows manpower agencies and manpower cooperatives to take a cut from workers’ salaries each payday.

There was also no certification issued by the President on pending anti-endo bills filed before the Congress. The PAL-PALEA dispute is not yet resolved.

The only token victory they got on this respect, the groups said, is the planned deputization of trade unionists as labor inspectors, the first batch of which are now undergoing training at the labor department.

Freedom of Association is also one of the areas where the President has a failing mark from the groups as organizing remains extremely difficult particularly in Economic Zones as workers get harassed and get fired for trying to organize unions.

Wages, power, employment, OFW fees, new taxes

With the regional wage setting mechanism still in place, discrimination in terms of wages still persists across the country. The President said he was for a national minimum wage, but such policy pronouncement has not translated even to a working paper from DOLE that they can discuss with workers.

“In the meantime the real value of wages continues to drop, power rates and prices of basic goods and services continue to climb, making it more burdensome for the working class. Meanwhile, the collection of exorbitant placement and other fees for OFW have not been addressed sufficiently if at all,” added the group.

In addition, the planned imposition of excise taxes on oil and the expansion of VAT coverage on goods and services under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN), the group feared, will lead to further erosion of workers purchasing power especially those earning the minimum wage and below.

ILO Convention 151 ratification, the saving grace

The President, however, got a passing mark for being the first chief executive to endorse for Senate concurrence International Labor Convention 151 on Labor Relations in the Public Sector. The treaty, once ratified by the Senate, would guarantee the right to organize of public sector workers and allow them to bargain for better working conditions, among others.

Wrong war

Asked why the President failed to satisfy workers’ clamor for change during the last 365 days, the labor groups said, “It is expected when a leader quickly descends into a wrong war that only resulted to thousands of unsolved killings. While surveys have consistently showed that inflation, wages, and employment remain the top concerns of every Filipino.”

Labor groups raise grave concerns over RCEP

Representatives from major trade unions in both the public and private sectors have raised serious concerns on the possible impacts of the Regional Economic Comprehensive Partnership Agreement (RCEP) which is currently being negotiated in Manila: According to their analysis, prices of medicines may increase, government revenue decrease and the government’s ability to regulate foreign investments, service providers and transnational corporations may be constrained.

The analysis of the labor groups are based on leaked draft texts of the RCEP as no official document has been made public throughout the four years of negotiations. Only negotiators and key business representatives had access to the official documents. Even Congress has been blindsided. This seriously constrains the democratic process.

RCEP is a mega free trade and investment agreement negotiated between 16 countries in the Asian region- the 10 ASEAN countries plus India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand.

The proposal to have an international private arbitration process that ignores national laws and the Constitution and where investors can make multi-billion claims against governments was another concern raised by the groups.

At a meeting attended by major labor centers like SENTRO and the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), affiliates of global union federations such as PSI, IndustriALL and BWI, solidarity support organization like SASK, and the Trade Justice Campaign – Pilipinas, held on May 5 2017 in Quezon City, Dave Diwa, of National Labor Union (NLU) called RCEP a “danger zone that governments should avoid at all costs. “Vicente Camilon, Jr of the TUCP added that “RCEP might constraint our government’s power to regulate, undermine national sovereignty, and limit it ability to pursue national development objectives.” Jullian Roque of Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK) further added that the deal could diminish public funds that should be devoted to basic social services.”

In contrast, the labor unions pointed out the corporate-bias of RCEP. Glen Pastorfide of the Philippine Government Employees Association (PGEA) said that RCEP could strengthen the power of corporations while weakening policies that seek to protect and conserve our natural resources and ecosystems.”

Alan Tanjusay of Associated Labor Unions (ALU) pointed out that “RCEP has no social dimension. Our government will be prevented from instituting policies and regulations beneficial to working people.”

Wilson Fortaleza of the Partido ng Manggagawa concluded that “RCEP is a global corporate agenda of regional oligarchs.”

“Clearly, the RCEP is as bad as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP),” Josua Mata, Secretary General of SENTRO, declared. “If Pres. Duterte rejected TPP, then he should, at the very least, be worried about RCEP as well,” he added.

SENTRO vows to continue the struggle against contractualization

Photo by JTMata

Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa joins the global working peoples in their 130th commemoration of International Labor Day. Filipino workers have been commemorating the International Labor Day and the continuing struggles of the working masses since 1903, inextricably tying it to the anti-colonial struggle. Faced as it is by monumental challenges and massive societal roadblocks, SENTRO remains undaunted and steadfast in its commitment towards organizing, fighting and winning on behalf of the working peoples of the Philippines.

In less than a year, President Rodrigo Duterte has seen his popularity and trust ratings erode by 7% and 11% among the working poor. While a number of the population remains unperturbed by this, this development is an indicator that a significant section of our people is beginning to fear for their lives— and perhaps even regretting their complicity to the election of an unrepentant violator of human rights and democratic institutions.

The working people gave Pres. Duterte the benefit of the doubt on his promise to end the oppressive policy of labor contractualization. We hoped that Pres. Duterte will dismantle and replace the much-criticized Department Order No. 18-A. But our hopes were met with grim disillusionment with Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello’s release of Department Order No. 174 last March 19, 2017.

This policy will perpetuate contractualization by: a) allowing businesses to hire workers through agencies; b) allowing cooperatives to engage in labor contracting and subcontracting; c) no longer requiring the principal employer to provide unions a copy of the service contract; and d) allowing contracting agencies to further downplay the price of labor costs—guaranteeing even lower salaries and benefits for workers across industries. Clearly, DO 174 widely differs from what Pres. Duterte has promised.

Truth is, the Duterte regime is only consistent in one thing: it wants to kill, and the freedom to kill who it wants to kill. The spate of extrajudicial killings occurring all over the country—ostensibly sponsored and abetted by the Philippine National Police’s Oplan Tokhang and Oplan Double Barrel—has claimed anywhere between 8,000 to 10,000 lives already. This has worsened the situation of poor women, leaving them in trauma, isolation and greater vulnerability to further abuse such as prostitution. In addition to this,the Philippine Congress reintroduces the death penalty,and was passed by the House of Representatives last March 7, 2017, awaiting advancement in the Philippine Senate—despite the Philippines’ international commitment to treaties not to do so. Another legislative bill intends to lower the minimum age of criminal liability to nine (9) years of age, pushing back the victory in the past of children’s rights groups.

It is probably not without reason that this culture of death has been roundly condemned by the international community. The “War on the Poor,” as it is, has made a mockery of its initial propaganda to rid us of the menace of drug dependence and promote a secure, living society. While the poor is being killed, the drug profiteers like Peter Lim are left scot-free.

As expected, the elites are in no hurry to oppose or even modulate the Duterte regime’s reign of terror and death. Many of these politicians have kowtowed to Malacañang, probably in anticipation of the impending push for charter change, which may see the Philippines parcelled around longstanding political dynasties and the further dismantling of the country’s economic infrastructure through their hard-selling of Federalism.

Once again, it is up to the working people and their labor movement to defend our rights, even as we continue to deepen democracy in the country. It is for this reason that SENTRO, together with its allies amongst the progressive forces, is calling on all freedom-loving Filipinos to stand up and be counted in the fight to stop the killings, block Duterte’s Death Policies – the reimposition of the death penalty and the lowering of the age of criminality – and to resist moves to amend the constitution to institute “constitutional authoritharianism.” SENTRO believes that workers’ and trade union rights cannot genuinely exist if human and democratic rights are compromised and thrown to the gutter.

We call on the working people to continue the struggle against contractualization and the precariousness of living sustained by the Duterte regime’s neo-liberal policies. Let us assert our basic right to a dignified and genuinely safe society—not the selective security of the privileged that preys on the massacre of the poor.

Organize! Fight! Win!

Download FIlipino version of the statement

Nagkaisa statement on Dialogue with DOLE

The NAGKAISA labor coalition spoiled the premature celebrations of employers and contractors over reports that a new DOLE Department Order 168 was issued over the New Year which NAGKAISA feels essentially was a product of the proposed “win-win” solution proposed by DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez.

NAGKAISA had launched mass actions and an appeal to President Duterte, to signal opposition to draft department orders circulating which apparently would allow an army of non-regular, contractor deployed “seasonal” & “project” workers to supplant the despised “endo” system of contractualization. President Duterte had made a campaign commitment to end contractualization which he reiterated in his year-end interview with media. NAGKAISA warned that the supposed DO would perpetuate the contractualization policy that the President promised would be stopped

Today DOLE senior officials led by Sec. Silvestre Bello announced to the convenors of the NAGKAISA that there is no Department Order. Bello said that he was willing to listen to the workers comments to craft a fresh DO. Bello directed all his Undersecretaries to come out with separate drafts and that this would then be consolidated by the DOLE to a version on January 13, which will be referred to the NATIONAL TRIPARTITE INDUSTRIAL PEACE COUNCIL. This will be subjected to Tripartite consultations and will be issued as DO 1, series of 2017 when approved.

NAGKAISA formally requested Sec. Bello to set up an audience with President Duterte where workers will appeal for passage of an Executive Order which will serve as a stop-gap measure to proscribe contractualization until a new law amending the Labor Code is passed. NAGKAISA further requested that the President certify as an urgent Administration measure House Bill no. 4444 “WORKERS BILL STRENGTHENING SECURITY OF TENURE” (Rep. Raymond Mendoza, TUCP Partylist). HB 4444 will prohibit all forms of short term employment contracts and criminalize it.

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

endo001

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.

endo002

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.