Tag Archives: NAGKAISA Labor Coalition

Nagkaisa! condemns violence against workers across the country

Nagkaisa! Labor Coalition is deeply concerned over the spate of violence that befell workers in separate incidents across the country.

“We condemn in the strongest terms possible, the attempted murder of a trade union leader in Cebu City and the violent dispersal of striking workers of food giant NutriAsia and their supporters, in Marilao, Bulacan,” Atty. Sonny Matula, chairperson of Nagkaisa! said.

The display of violence happened a few hours apart yesterday.

“There was an apparent attempt on the life of Jessielou Cadungog, labor leader of ALU-TUCP, vice chairman of the Oriental Port and Allied Services Corporation (OPASCOR) and it involved the police,” Matula said.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) in Cebu are owning up to the incident as a legitimate police operation.

Meanwhile, in Marilao, Bulacan, the picket of protesting workers and their supporters was violently dispersed by operatives of PNP Bulacan and security personnel of giant food manufacturer NutriAsia.

“A peaceful concerted action demanding the recognition of rights of workers such as what was being done by workers of NutriAsia, should never ever merit any and all kinds of violence, especially those perpetrated by the police and private security personnel,” Matula said.

Based on workers’ accounts, some 100 security forces, including 30 police officers violently dispersed the picket line as protesters were holding a religious ecumenical service.

At least 19 were arrested and scores arrested as many of the protesters scrambled for safety amid the chaos.

Back in Cebu, the gunman who was killed in the encounter by Cadungog’s aide was identified as PO2 Eugene Alcain Calumba. The accomplice who was taken into custody by the PNP was Michael Banua.

“Now, the PNP is trying to portray the assassination attempt on Mr. Cadungog as a legitimate police operation identifying him as a ‘person-of-interest’ involved in shabu,” Michael Mendoza, president of ALU-TUCP, a Nagkaisa member said.

“We stand by Mr. Cadungog and condemn this sordid attempt to justify and cover-up for what is clear police involvement,” said Mendoza.

Meanwhile, police in Bulacan are claiming that some of the arrested protesters had guns and drugs with them.

“It is becoming a sad refrain. The campaign against drugs is being used by the police as a flimsy excuse to either justify the use of violence or use it as an escape goat, when harassing workers and citizens who are exercising their legitimate trade union and human rights,” Matula said.

“We are calling on the authorities to conduct a thorough and objective investigation of the twin incidents of violence against workers that occurred yesterday. The police officers and their superiors who will be proven to have done wrongdoing should be made accountable. The culture of impunity must stop,” Matula said.

Labor group expects “good” SONA

Nagkaisa Labor Coalition, the largest coalition of worker’s organization in the country expects a “good” SONA from President Duterte.

“It should be a SONA that would squarely address economic woes and political issues besetting the country today”, said Nagkaisa spokesperson Ka Rene Magtubo.

Nagkaisa expects the President’s SONA should contain the following:

– Addressing the proliferation of illegal and abusive contracting arrangements that DO 174 and EO 51 failed to do, by way of certifying as urgent the Security of Tenure Bill pending in the Senate

– Addressing the “gap” in workers wages and the cost of living brought about by the TRAIN law, rising inflation, peso devaluation, profiteering and the spike in global prices of petroleum products by way of certifying as urgent wage bills pending in the House of Representatives;

– Providing more assistance to women workers by enacting into law the Expanded Maternity Leave Bill pending in the House of Representatives;

– Addressing the prevalence of poverty despite positive economic growth in terms of programs and services that would directly benefit the poor people by way of increasing budget in affordable housing, universal healthcare and pension for the elderly among others;

– Addressing the continuing problem of unemployment and underemployment by way of policies and programs that would provide more local employment opportunities to the labor force by way of a clear industrialization policy, continuing land reform, and development of agriculture; and

– Clear government policy of defending the country’s sovereignty and patrimony on its rightful claims in the West Philippine Sea.

“These are the real issues that matter most to the working people that government should prioritize and not charter change. Absent these issues, the speech will be “business as usual” as in the previous SONAs”, Magtubo added.

Majority of the members of the coalition will be joining the United Peoples’ SONA to voice out workers issues and concerns.

Nagkaisa Labor Coalition
Press Release

Labor hesitant about Palace Meeting sans knowledge of final EO version


“We are not sure if we will go to the meeting with the President as we don’t know which version of the Executive Order (EO) Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III is once again peddling,” Nagkaisa Labor Coalition said in a hastily called press conference following reports of a much delayed meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte happening in mid-April.

President Duterte, in a meeting with labor leaders on February 27, promised that he and his legal team will look into the workers’ draft EO submitted jointly by Nagkaisa and Kilusang Mayo Uno with the support of the National Anti-Poverty Commission. He promised to sign the issuance by March 15, to no avail.

“The truth is, the Secretary has been obstructing our efforts these past few years. He has been misleading the president and has been fooling the public by twisting labor’s position and making it appear we are unreasonable,” Nagkaisa said.

“The workers’ draft 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.” Nagkaisa added.

Photo by: Del Banares

“We abhor the abuse and exploitation of workers through contractualization as it has become the convenient excuse of unscrupulous employers and manpower agencies and pseudo cooperatives to pay low wages, disregard social protection, bust unions and fire workers at will. We believed the President share these abhorrence with irresponsible employers,” Nagkaisa added.

Nagkaisa calls on government to decide where its policy on addressing contractualization stands. “Is it for more profits to employers at the expense of workers’ rights and welfare; or adhering to state guarantees of providing full protection to workers’ rights and welfare that would bring about sustainable growth to the economy?”

“Secretary Bello shamelessly foisted that labor is calling for the total prohibition of contractualization and deliberately misled the public and the President that workers are hardlining and demanding the impossible. He obstructed and derailed the democratic processing of an EO,” Nagkaisa added.

“He has acted beyond the pale and has shown to what depths he will unconscionably betray his sworn trust and the public interest. He must now disclose what this purported April 16 EO contains. It is something we have never seen,” said Nagkaisa.

Nagkaisa only learned about a supposed new round of meetings in Malacañang via news reports as no official invitations and meeting agenda have been received by any labor group.#

DTI should impose its weight against rising inflation, not on labor

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) should impose its weight against rising inflation rather than keeping the labor price low under the policy of contractualization.

The DTI has always been on the side of business, thus, when Secretary Ramon Lopez stated that contractualization “is not unfair to workers” he was essentially parroting the line of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) whose bottom line position on this issue is to keep the price of labor low to remain competitive. For DTI and ECOP, the best way to keep the price tag of labor low is to keep contractualization as the prevailing policy of the Duterte administration.

The labor movement has repeatedly rejected the “win-win” formula of DTI and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). Our bottom line is change: Direct hiring must be the new policy. This is the only way workers can actually enjoy their constitutional right to security of tenure. The DTI and DOLE position is for workers to enjoy security of tenure in their respective manning agencies and not in their principal employers as contained under Department Order 174 of DOLE. This “win-win solution” has led to a farcical situation where majority of the more than 45,000 workers reportedly “regularized” under DO 174 last year now find themselves “regularly employed” by agencies and not by the principal. The rule should be, as its name denotes, manpower agencies and other service providers should merely be treated as agents of the principals.

This is the main reason why we have been pushing for an Executive Order to correct this distortion and rectify decades of injustice imposed upon millions of workers. The Labor Secretary, and in this particular case, the President, can prohibit contractualizaton under the Labor Code.

Section 2 of the labor-proposed EO provides relief for this impasse as it states that: “Contracting or subcontracting when undertaken to circumvent the worker’s rights to security of tenure, self-organization and collective bargaining and peaceful concerted activities pursuant to the 1987 Philippine Constitution is hereby strictly prohibited. Security of tenure refers to the direct hiring relationship between the principal employer and employee.”

Contractualization under the proposed EO is still recognized. Only that the types of job that can be contracted out be done upon consultation with members of the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council (NTIPC). What the DTI wants is to perpetuate the norm of contracting out almost all jobs in the guise of management’s exercise of their prerogative. This regime, for over two decades, led to a dramatic change in employment relations, with “middlemen employers” such as manning agencies and “labor cooperatives” dominating the trade.

This norm also has dissipated almost all rights guaranteed to workers by the constitution and labor laws, from security of tenure, right to organize, collectively bargain and to strike in accordance with law, and to be represented in the formulation of policies affecting their welfare.

Again, to DTI: Contractualization is not unfair to workers? It seems like this agency is now headed by a feudal lord.

Trading workers through manpower agencies who act as middlemen in a trilateral employment relationship is feudalism, which is clearly unjust. For more than two decades, this re-feudalization of labor has become the norm and keeping the policy will perpetuate this abominable condition of poverty and inequality amid economic growth.

Hence, when we stated that the buck stops now with the President, it is because we believe the impasse can be resolve in favor of justice. It’s either change as promised by the President, or business-as-usual as demanded by ECOP.

NAGKAISA Labor Coalition
PRESS STATEMENT

Trade Union Statement on the 8th ASEAN Regional Tripartite Social Dialogue Conference in Manila, 18-19 October 2017

PSI photo

Trade unions across the ASEAN expressed great disappointment over ASEAN governments who refused to commit to advance workers’ rights in the sub-region.

Ironically, governments refused to heed the workers’ calls during the 8th ASEAN Tripartite Social Dialogue Conference—a forum dedicated to deepen understanding and relations between and among social partners—government, employers and workers.

At the two-day Conference, panel sessions delved on effective social dialogue mechanisms, many examples of which featured good practices of the Philippines.

On the final day of the conference, social dialogue in practice was put to a test. The final plenary session was held to come up with the conference conclusions and recommendations.

In separate interventions, workers’ delegates asked that the conference document reflect the calls to ratify ILO Convention 144 on tripartism; Convention 151 on labor relations in the public sector; and core labor standards covering freedom of association and free collective bargaining; an end to forced labor; elimination of child labor; and an end to discrimination at work.

Ratifying ILO Convention 144 is important as it provides the framework for tripartism and social dialogue in ASEAN member countries. The conference did not explicitly define tripartism and provide a framework for social dialogue. ILO Convention 151 was the subject of a panel discussion where the resource persons openly called for its ratification. Meanwhile, core labor standards was a recurring theme, especially with the acknowledged decline in trade union density across ASEAN.

In the course of the dialogue, workers revised their position several times with the hope of convincing governments and employers to soften their position. Workers offered to change the language to “work towards ratification of the ILO Conventions” instead of the direct call for ratification of ASEAN member states to indicate commitment. They still objected without explaining their position. Workers then moved to just “recognize that trade unions are calling for the ratification” of the said standards. But governments led by Indonesia, Malaysia and Myanmar and employers maintained their stubborn stance.

After the discussion on the conference statement, trade unions affiliated to Building and Wood Workers International (BWI) and Public Services International (PSI) along with NAGKAISA Labor Coalition expressed their strong objection to the final Conference Joint Statement for not living up to the spirit of tripartism and social dialogue.

20 October 2017

Signed by ASEAN affiliates of:
· Building and Wood Workers International (BWI)
· Public Services International (PSI);

and, members of:
· NAGKAISA Labor Coalition, Philippines