Tag Archives: Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (Sentro)

International trade union calls for firm EU action on imported Philippines tuna tainted with human rights violations

An international trade union delegation comprising the IUF, the IUF European regional organization EFAT-IUF, the Norwegian Food Workers’ Union NNN and two members of a trade union from General Santos City in the Philippines which is leading the fight to ensure respect for international human rights standards in the country’s massive tuna industry, will be in Brussels on April 24 for talks with the EU’s Directorate General for Trade.

Under the EU’s GSP+ system, tuna exports from the Philippines receive tariff-free entry into the European market on condition that minimum rights standards are respected. To date, there has been little progress.

In 2013, the Citra Mina Group of Companies, among the largest tuna exporters in General Santos, terminated hundreds of workers for exercising their human right to form a trade union. Their fight for rights, recognition and reinstatement continues to this day, and has become the Philippines’ longest-running high-profile labour conflict.

In 2015, congressional hearings in the Philippines detailed the Citra Mina Group’s pattern of abuses: systematic violations of labour standards and trade union rights,rampant abuse of precarious employment and shell companies to evade legal obligations, slave-like conditions on boats and deaths on the high seas. Hundreds of trafficked crew members detaining for illegal fishing in Indonesian waters have received no assistance from the company. This year, Congressional Representative Tom Villarin cited the entrenched pattern of rights violations by Citra Mina as a cruel symptom of the government’s failure to enforce respect for the international human rights standards it has signed onto and pledged to implement. And Citra Mina, he said, was only the tip of the iceberg. The government’s failure to hold Citra Mina to account for these violations is the subject of a complaint before the United Nations’ ILO Committee on Freedom of Association submitted by the IUF last year.

The IUF insists that the EU can make much more effective use of the mechanisms established under GSP+, and that it has a clear responsibility to take firm action in defense of the industry’s workers order to raise standards for the fishing sector as a whole.

The unions will also be bringing this message to the annual Brussels Seafood Expo the following day, the world’s largest commercial sea food fair where both Citra Mina and the government of Philippines will be participating.

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The International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF) is an international trade union federation composed of 427 trade unions in 127 countries representing over 10 million workers.It is based in Geneva, Switzerland.

End Endo, Not People’s Lives

End Endo, Not People's Lives

Nagkaisa Labor Coalition marching along Morayta to Mendiola – Photo by Eva Arcos

The Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) today marched from Welcome Rotonda to Mendiola, passing through Morayta to join other sectors who were in solidarity with the workers. In a statement, SENTRO said it marks the 153rd birth anniversary of Gat Andres Bonifacio, “founding predecessor of the Philippine mass movement and First President of the Philippine Republic by memorializing the heroic struggle of Bonifacio and the Katipunan in these trying times.” It added that SENTRO “looks back to our history of consistent action, and takes heart from it in continuing to carry the torch of seeking and advocating for economic and political justice for all.”

Josua Mata, Secretary-General of SENTRO, stated that six months into the presidency of Rodrigo Roa Duterte, the Philippines is now in a seething state of tension, division and political polarization. “For all his bluster, bravado and posturing in promising change since the May 2016 elections, he has only succeeded in worsening the social, economic and political gap between the privileged and the excluded in Philippine society,” added Mata.

The “war on drugs” Duterte has sanctioned continues to prove itself as a “war on the poor”—with 5,617 casualties. With a police hierarchy under PNP Chief Ronaldo “Bato” dela Rosa wholly subservient to the whims of the President, our police institutions, constitutionally-mandated to protect and serve the public from crime and violence, now glories in its role as the President’s praetorian guard of butchers and hatchet-men.

Mata stated that “the Duterte regime, proving its promise of standing up against the elites of Philippine society as full of hot air, has also visibly backtracked on its promise to dismantle the ‘endo’ system of contractualization in favor of the working peoples (both in the manufacturing and service sectors).” That the Labor Secretary, Silvestre Bello III, continues to vacillate between the just demands of the working peoples’ movements and the rapacious threats of the employers and capitalists, poses massive questions to whether this issue will actually be resolved in the name of social justice, the statement continued.

According to the 80,000-strong labor center, Duterte’s partisanship to the forces of oppression has finally surfaced by fully sanctioning the burial of the tyrant Ferdinand Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani last November 18, 2016—immediately 10 days after the craven decision of the Supreme Court to declare the absence of legal impediment to the burial, and without giving time to filing motions of consideration against the decision. “That this burial was done clandestinely, away from the eyes of the public and without any transparency whatsoever simply affirms once over that the heirs of the dictator Marcos has no intention of standing accountable for their two-decade ransacking of the Philippine state and society. The state-apparatuses are scrambling to continue justifying the actions of their clearly-beholden president—to the extent of inflaming the ire and resentment of the new generations of our youth.”

“The Filipino people are already waking up to the monumental costs of their choice in the polls,” according to SENTRO. “That mobilizations and indignation protests continue to be mounted by the millennial generation of today against the burial of the tyrant Marcos show that the administration is beginning to wear its welcome.” It says that even the President’s supporters are now beginning to be split in their condoning of the “war on drugs” suggests that this platform is unravelling without a clear end-goal in mind. “That a growing number of our population are now finding the perorations and propagandizing of the Duterte camp’s online “trolls” and unofficial spokespersons (all of dubious character and non-existent integrity) is a heartening sign that reason and basic decency have not yet left Philippine public discourse,” added Mata.

“That people are now finally choosing to stand up against the excesses of the Duterte regime after months of silence and patience simply mean one thing: They now know that their President is neither a father, nor a leader, nor a saviour. They now know he is a tyrant and a bully who cements his throne in blood and skulls. And we know from history how tyrants end their stories.”

Finally, SENTRO called on the Filipino people to remain vigilant and insistent on their social, economic and political rights.

“We call on the Philippine government to stand accountable for the growing number of dead and injured in their war on the poor. We call to a halt on political prosecution of opposition actors who are simply doing their job of protecting the Filipino people’s basic human rights. We continuously call for the exhumation of Marcos from his undeserved burial in the Libingan ng mga Bayani. We also call on the Marcos family and their partisans to finally come clean, stop the propagandizing, and finally own up to and pay up for their countless crimes against the Filipino people. We continue to assert that the Duterte administration must abandon authoritarianism and finally think on behalf of all Filipino peoples—not just his intransigent, intolerant and oppressive patrons. Lest he reaps the wind.”

#StopTheKillingsPh
#EndENDO

Bonifacio Day
November 30, 2016

Painted Women Performed Warrior Dance against Violence

 

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To mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, women with painted faces and bodies performed a warrior dance at noon today in Quezon City. Filling the streets around the World Scout Jamboree roundabout in Timog, the women denounced the violenceof the current administration, and the institutional violence that “kills” 14 women each day they are deprived of reproductive health services by the state.

According to the women, the Duterte administration’s violence include the drug-war killings, the killing of democracy through patronage of the Marcos burial at the heroes’ cemetery and sponsorship of the Marcos’s return to power, promotion of death penalty, criminalization of child delinquents, non-implementation of the Reproductive Health Law, and sexist attacks on women’s dignity.

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“The spate of state-sanctioned killings exacerbated the trauma in women already reeling from impoverishment,” said Clarissa Militante, one of the leaders of World March of Women (WMW) and Focus on the Global South. Both groups are members of iDefend, a human rights network calling for a stop to the killings. According to iDefend, the number has reached over 5,000 and victimized are mostly poor families, leaving women widowed and children fatherless. Human rights groups are now overburdened with responding to psycho-social and legal needs of the families of survivors. “The encouragement of the killings by the President himself emboldened the police to directly take lives, as well as persecute women leaders who dare challenge this policy,” added Militante. She noted that the first human rights defender killed under the current administration is a woman environmental rights advocate, Gloria Capitan.

“The state’s facilitation of dictator Marcos’s burial similarly opened wounds in rape and torture victims among women, and those left behind by the disappeared during Martial Law,” according to Nilda Lagman-Sevilla, Co-Chair of the Familiies of Victims of Involuntary Disappearances (FIND). Ka Nilda’s brother, a human rights lawyer who vanished in 1977, is among the 882 desaparecidos under Martial Law. “President Duterte himself should account for this mistake, rectify it, and stop resuscitating a deposed authoritarian power,” she added.

Now, women are being abused online when identified to be protesting against the Marcos burial or critiquing the Duterte administration. It should be remembered that WMW leaders charged the current President with violation of the Magna Carta of Women and promotion of rape culture. Now, the same sexism is being perpetrated by legislators against Senator Leila De Lima, as well as by Marcos and Duterte followers against protesters, according to Jean Enriquez of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW-AP), WMW and iDefend. “Sexual harassment, sexist cyberbullying and rape cases brought to our attention rose in number with the coming to power of Duterte, bringing along Marcos with him,” said Enriquez. However, the women refuse to be cowed.

“We draw strength from our women ancestors who have resisted our subjugation as a people,” stated Nice Coronacion, leader of the youth section of the labour center SENTRO. “We cannot allow the resurgence of a terror state, and we are rising in defiance,” Coronacion added.

“The women vowed to fight for their rights to reproductive freedom, a life of dignity, and a safe and violence-free world for women and their families,” said Ana Maria Nemenzo of WomanHealth.

The women leaders underscored that the recent days after the Marcos burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani showed that silence and spread of lies which marked the entry to power of Pres. Duterte and re-emergence of the Marcoses, is now being countered by intelligent and truthful narratives, calls for justice and reason from human rights defenders and coming especially from young people in protest actions.

Also leading the symbolic dance as “Pintadas” were women from the Center for Migrant Advocacy, Foundation for Media Alternatives, Lilak (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights), Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK), SARILAYA, WomanHealth, Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau (WLB), Idefend, Block Marcos, Coalition Against the Marcos Burial at LNMB (CAMB-LNMB), and individual women who heeded the call for the action online.

Those who were not able to come to the action painted their faces and posted selfies with hashtags #EndVAW, #WomenRising, #StopTheKillingsPh, #BlockMarcos and #Hukayin.

Women and Workers Outraged by SC Decision on Marcos Burial

Marcos not a hero

Women and worker activists held a noise barrage in Quezon City this evening to express their outrage over the Supreme Court’s decision to bury the deposed dictator Ferdinand Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

The groups World March of Women (WMW), Sentro ng Progresibo at Nagkakaisang Manggagawa (SENTRO) and Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) have been rallying to oppose President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to bury Marcos in the hero’s cemetery.

“We shall never forget this day. The decision of the SC is a grave insult to the memory of those who died under Marcos rule,” according to Jelen Paclarin, Executive Director of the Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau (WLB). “The burial of Marcos in LNB is the death of justice – as the remains of the Dictator shall be laid in the ground, so shall what remained of hope and our faith in the justice system.” The group asserted that Marcos is not a hero, but a dictator who brought upon atrocities and suffering to the country and the Filipino people can never be called a hero.

Josua Mata, Secretary General of SENTRO, expressed that the SC decision tramples on the sacrifices of all trade unionists whose lives were taken in fighting the Marcos dictatorship. “This is another nail on the cross of democracy in the country,” added Mata.

“We fought the Marcos dictatorship fiercely and sacrificed our youth so that our children will live free from fascism,” stated Jean Enriquez, Philippine Coordinator of the WMW. “But President Duterte would rather fulfill his campaign promises to the Marcos family, which left the democratic forces with no recourse but to file petitions at the Supreme Court,” she added. They vowed to continue resisting the grave abuse of discretion by the president in ordering the Marcos burial at the heroes’ cemetery, despite the SC failing them.

“This SC decision does not represent the position of the thousands of Filipino people who have lived, experienced and understood the horrors during the Marcos dictatorship, said Judy Pasimio, Executive Director of Lilak (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights). “Our resistance to the burying of truth and that tragic part of our history will continue,” she added. The group noted that indigenous and Moro people have been severely abused during the Marcos regime.

Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), Focus on the Global South, Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center, Foundation for Media Alternatives, Youth and Students Advancing Gender Equality, iDefend, and the Coalition Against Marcos Burial petitioners were part of the action.

Gloria Capitan: Killed for Upholding the Right to a Healthy Environment

gloiacapitan

Gloria Capitan

Faced with the livelihood, environmental, and health-related dangers posed by an open coal stockpile in Barangay Lucanin, Mariveles, Bataan, the Samahan ng Nagkakaisang Mamamayan ng Lucanin (SNML) mounted a campaign against Limay Bulk Handling Terminal Inc. At the helm of the campaign was Ka Gloria Capitan: a 57-year-old grandmother, environmental activist, and President of the SNML. With the children of her community in mind, she passionately fought for the human right to a healthy environment.

SNML has already filed a petition to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the local government and the CHR regarding the issue. They have also filed a complaint against the local government, who now has a case with the Ombudsman.

After months of sacrifice, devoting her time to the grueling struggle against the open coal stockpiles, the evening of July 1, 2016 saw the death of Gloria Capitan – a mere few hours after the inauguration of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. Shot by an unidentified man and died en route to a hospital, she is the first non-drug-related victim of extra judicial killing (EJK) under President Duterte’s administration.

The Sentro ng Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) strongly condemns the atrocious death of Gloria Capitan. Her death is a reflection of the blatant disregard for human rights that has plagued the country, the culture of death and reprisal by those who have power. SENTRO calls for a swift and thorough investigation on the incident, and to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators and their masterminds.

SENTRO holds the Local Government Officials and Units of Barangay Lucanin, of Mariveles, and of Bataan accountable for allowing the operation of an open coal stockpile near people’s communities, contributing to the degradation of the environment and of people’s health.

SENTRO also holds accountable the Limay Bulk Handling Terminal Inc. and Seafront Shipyard and Port Terminal Services, which apparently owns the former, for continuing to pursue profits at the expense of people’s health, given documentation of an increase in the number of residents of Barangay Lucanin afflicted with skin diseases and upper respiratory ailments.

SENTRO calls on President Duterte to stop the coal mining operations, the building of coal power plants, and other related activities in order to protect the rights and welfare of people and environment. Furthermore, SENTRO calls on the President, whose statements encouraging “killings”, to halt the horrendous wave of EJKs.

Gloria Capitan’s and her organizations’ bravery in the face of tremendous adversity is a feat worth applauding. Her death, however, is a threat to human rights defenders in this country.

JUSTICE FOR GLORIA CAPITAN!
FIGHT AGAINST EXTRA-JUDICIAL KILLINGS!
FIGHT AGAINST COAL!
FIGHT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS!

Except for Duterte, leading candidates for the presidential race signs contract to end contractualization

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Vice President Jejomar Binay, Sen. Grace Poe and Sec. Mar Roxas

Three days before the elections, three presidential candidates signed a contract with a coalition of labor federations and workers’ organizations calling for the repeal of the notorious and rampant contractual work scheme in the country.

“We have the signatures of Mar Roxas, Grace Poe, and Jejomar Binay conforming to workers’ clamor to repeal contractualization work scheme in the country. While only 3 of the 5 presidential candidates have formally signed our proposed ‘anti-endo contract,’ we are elated that ending contractualization work scheme is among the primary social issues that is being advocated by all the ‘presidentiables,’ which will influence the outcome of the May 9 national elections,” the NAGKAISA labor coalition said in its statement.

By affixing their signatures, the 3 candidates have signified their commitment to fight contractualization. “Regardless of who among them wins, the minority president has a binding agreement with the majority – the Filipino working people. NAGKAISA will engage the new leadership to ensure that she/he will live up to their promise to end Endo,” the group said.

Unfortunately, Rodrigo Duterte’ did not sign the document. “This puts into question his sincerity in fighting contractualization,” NAGKAISA said.

Also known as “endo” (end of contract) or “5-5-5” jobs, this contractual work arrangement is characterized by hiring employees for only five months without security of tenure, paid with unlawful wages and without social protection benefits and privileges compared to what regular workers receive.

Both Grace Poe and Jejomar Binay signed the agreement committing themselves to, “Certify as urgent and enact the Security of Tenure bills both for the private and the public sectors as championed in the outgoing 16th congress by Representatives Raymond Mendoza, Walden Bello and Leah Paquiz.”

Mar Roxas agreed to, “Certify as urgent and enact the Security of Tenure Bill to protect workers’ rights from unfair contractualization,” but added that he would “study and develop flexible and lawful work arrangements to adapt to the needs of employees and employers, thereby securing humane working conditions and encouraging the creation of jobs.”

The Security of Tenure Bill referred to has been languishing in Congress for more than a decade now.

NAGKAISA considers contractualization as a modern day work slavery whereby workers toil to enrich their employers but are paid with measly wages, without Social Security System (SSS), Philhealth and Pag-IBIG protection benefits, cramp in risky workplaces and without security of tenure.

Aside from ending contractualization, other issues presidential candidates have agreed with NAGKAISA are providing for living wage, ensuring quality public services, reforming workplace labor inspection, ensuring the working poor’s right to the city, realizing full employment before the end of six years, among others.

The NAGKAISA is a coalition of 49 labor centers, federations, and workers’ organizations including big labor groups such as the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (Sentro), Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), Federation of Free Workers (FFW), National Confederation of Labor (NCL), National Federation of Labor Unions (NAFLU), Partido Manggagawa (PM) and Associated Labor Unions (ALU).

SENTRO brings home 43 fishermen left by Citra Mina in Indonesia; demands compensation for all the ‘abandoned’ as Congress sets to investigate Citra Mina

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43 fishermen detained in Indonesia arrive in Manila airport

 

WELCOME home and let the “fight” begin.

After almost six months of being abandoned by their employer – the giant fishing firm Citra Mina – and left to rot in a detention facility in Ternate Island, Indonesia, the 43 fishermen are now in Manila before going back to General Santos City.

The “abandonados” arrived onboard Cebu Pacific flight 5J 760 at 5:30 a.m. today in NAIA from Jakarta bringing with them harrowing experience following the seizure of their boat Love Merben II off the coast of Indonesia for alleged illegal fishing last Aug. 26.

“Mission accomplished,” Herbert Demos, SENTRO staff who went to Indonesia as part of the rescue team, announced. “All Filipino crew of Love Merben II accounted for,” he reported.

The rescue campaign was led by the national labor center SENTRO and the global union IUF, and in coordination with the Department of Foreign Affairs DFA).

Demos arrived in Ternate Island on Feb. 20 to ensure that all 43 fishermen are issued their tickets and travel documents. What he witnessed in the island shocked him.

“I am poor, and was raised in poverty, but I cannot eat what our compatriots were eating in Ternate. The rice they ate had more rice weevils (lice) than rice grains, but they had no choice. I learned that sometimes they quarreled over food because of extreme hunger. What is painful, too, is that they were never visited by our consulate personnel in Manado,” Demos said.

SENTRO asserted that ultimately Citra Mina is to blame for all that the fishermen have gone through.

“Citra Mina should compensate all the fishermen for the whole time they were stuck in Ternate Island,” Josua Mata, SENTRO secretary general, stressed, adding that “Citra Mina should also be investigated for its alleged involvement in illegal fishing.”

Rep. Walden Bello of Akbayan has pushed for a congressional inquiry on Citra Mina’s alleged labor and human rights violations and its culpability in what had happened to the 43 fishermen. A hearing was set on March 18.

This morning, the repatriated fishermen are scheduled to meet with Jesus Yabes, DFA’s Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs.

They are set to fly to General Santos tomorrow morning where a big welcome celebration awaits them.

SENTRO is the national labor center Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa.The Geneva-based IUF is the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations. Its Asia-Pacific regional office extended much needed help in the rescue efforts.

The 43 abandoned fisherfolk are Felix G. Ababon Jr., Reynaldo A. Ano-os, Joemer G. Ababon, Dennis A. Ave, Clayde G. Batelante, James D. Bermil, Julie A. Curay, Jonald B. Caliso, Arnel Ariel D. Cezar, Aries S. Cezar.

Marjun S. Columnas, Alvin S. Flora, Jovanie S. Flora, Warren S. Flora, Leonardo L. Flores, Marcelino E. Gumera, Eugene S. Hunan, Loreno B. Ignacio, Jhon James Q. Inantay, Adonis A. Janohan.

Cecilio S. Lerin Jr., Antonio B. Robledo, Joe Michael F. Maambong, Jomer S. Mongosera, Edsel M. Mamugay, Jerwin T. Mahinay, Carl Philip S. Maybuena, Edilito G. Maybuena, Alberto S. Pasco, Leopoldo P. Poliquit Jr.

Antonio R. Quiban Jr., Harry A. Redoble, Joey R. Robledo, Jojo S. Ricafort, Archie S. Senina, Noel S. Walog, Kevin Mark R. Saturos, Emmanuel S. Senina, Roberto C. Senina, Edimar S. Sinena, Edgar S. Sigudan, Rolando S. Sayson, and Rodel D. Toyco.

43 Filipino fisherfolk abandoned in Indonesia by Citra Mina to be rescued

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Citra Mina workers in Indonesia

 

FORTY-THREE Filipino fishermen who were abandoned by Citra Mina when their boat, Love Merben II were apprehended off the coast of Indonesia last year, will be repatriated next week after an intense “rescue campaign” led by SENTRO and IUF.

Families and co-workers of the imprisoned fishermen bemoaned that Citra Mina, who they believe financed the fishing expedition of Love Merben II, did not even lift a finger to assist the hapless workers.

Citra Mina is the giant General Santos City-based fishing firm and the country’s second biggest tuna exporter under the Philfresh and other brands. It is notorious for not respecting workers’ rights. Owned by the wealthy Lu family, the company started to hog the headlines when it illegally terminated 237 of its workers in August 2013 as part of its effort to bust the union.

Josua Mata, Secretary General of SENTRO, described the mass termination as a “brazen and illegal move to bust the fledgling union – a blatant violation of the workers’ right to organize.”

The cases against the Citra Mina management are still pending.

The SENTRO also accuses Citra Mina of perpetrating alleged “human rights violations,” including purported “disappearances” of workers who complain of company abuses.

The Love Merben II was seized by Indonesian authorities last Aug. 26 and the crew members, who were reportedly undocumented or with no IDs and passports, were brought to a detention facility in Ternate Island, Indonesia. The plight of the forsaken fishermen only surfaced when their families and friends began asking help to locate them. Some union members in Citra Mina later learned about it and requested assistance from SENTRO, to which the local union is affiliated. SENTRO, in turn, relayed the information to the international union IUF.

SENTRO and the IUF’s Asia-Pacific regional office then launched a campaign to free the Filipino fishermen, including urging the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to appeal to the Indonesian government for the immediate release of the fishermen.

After nearly 6 months the fishermen will finally return home to the Philippines. Their return poses the question of why Citra Mina, whose massive profits rely on fishing crews like the crew of the Love Merben II, abandoned them for half a year and failed to take any responsibility.

“This demonstrates a pattern of abuse of workers’ human rights throughout the Citra Mina supply chain from fishermen to fish processing workers,” Dr. Hidayat Greenfield, Acting Regional Secretary of the IUF Asia Pacific, said.

SENTRO is the national labor center Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa; while the Geneva-based IUF is the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations.

Stay the Course: Labor, Women and various groups reassert the need to continue the Peace process, but the guilty from all sides must be held liable

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ALONG with our fiercest denunciation of those few heedless and inept local brains and foreign instigators behind the foolish adventurism in Mamasapano, we the undersigned, likewise expressed revulsion over excessive acts in the battlefield. The tragedy resulted to the needless deaths of dozens of police commandos, Moro fighters and innocent civilians. Even wars, where combatants are expected to kill and be killed, have universally recognized rules of engagement that at least lessen the dehumanization inherent in armed conflicts.

Thus, if the video circulating in the social media that supposedly shows the cold-blooded and uncalled-for execution of an already wounded and helpless government trooper in Mamasapano is authentic, it should, without hesitation, be vigorously condemned regardless of who the shooter was or what group he belongs to. Bear in mind that summary killing and mutilation of (and other undignified acts against) an injured enemy survivor as well as fatalities in combat is a blatant violation of the humanitarian law, including International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Rule 113: On the Treatment of the Dead, which is specifically stipulated in the Geneva Convention.

At the same time, we reiterate our previous calls to conduct a thorough, honest and no-nonsense probe on those responsible for the tactless and incompetent planning as well as the gung-ho implementation of that police operation, which utterly disregarded all the standing ceasefire mechanisms with the MILF and which sent the unfortunate PNP-SAF troopers to a veritable death trap in a remote village in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan. 25. We have  specifically identified those most likely to have an actual role in this debacle: President Aquino himself; then suspended (and recently resigned) PNP chief, Director General Alan Purisima; Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr.; and the ubiquitous and shadowy Americans, particularly those in the US military’s Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P).

Likewise, we again warn the public not to be deceived by rightwing hawks and demagogues who are fanning the flames of Islamophobia and knee-jerk call to arms.

Amid all these, we still support the noble ideals and aspirations of the current peace process. This initiative, while admittedly painstaking, complex and protracted, remains the only viable, just and ultimate solution to the decades-long bloodshed in Mindanao and elsewhere. Let us give “peace with justice” the chance it fully deserves and the goal that the people need and longed for. The Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) has to pass in the form that reflects the aspirations of the Bangsamoro people.

Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP)
Coalition Against Trafficking in Women – Asia Pacific (CATW-AP)
Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM)
Partido ng Manggagawa (PM)
Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)
Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO)
Transform Asia

Youths warn of trending ‘zero hour’ job contracts

ff009VALENTINE’S Day was celebrated today by youth members of the Alliance of Progressive Labor by picketing a bustling McDonald’s outlet in Quezon City as part of the Philippine leg of the international campaign against “zero hour” work contracts.

Activists of the APL-Youth, an affiliate of the national labor center Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO), staged their protest outside the McDonald’s branch near MRT Quezon Ave. station to denounce the global fast food chain giant’s penchant for contractualization and other precarious work arrangements like the zero hour job practices.

According to the global union IUF zero hour contracts are those with no specified work hours and which do not guarantee jobs or income, but which are now becoming rampant in the rapidly expanding fast food industry. The IUF is supporting the campaign by the Unite Union New Zealand against zero-hour work.

Young workers are particularly vulnerable under these exploitative contracts since they comprise the bulk of the fast food workforce throughout the world, the IUF said, adding that “workers on zero hour contracts live with the uncertainty of how much they will earn each month (and the unpredictability of) when and if they will get work.”

The US-based McDonald’s is the world’s largest chain of fast food restaurants – in 2012 it has already over 34,000 hamburger joints serving 68 million customers daily in 119 countries and territories, enabling it to amass $27.6 billion in revenues and $5.5 billion in net income – but it also pioneered and systematized the use of contractual labor, especially among the youth, in the multibillion dollar fast food industry.

A 2012 BBC study reported that McDonald’s is also the world’s second largest private employer (behind the US retail firm behemoth Walmart) with 1.9 million workers, “1.5 million of whom work for franchises” – a tactic that enables McDonald’s to perpetuate contractual labor and amass superprofits.

McDonald’s rampant practices of hiring workers with low salaries, few benefits and no security of tenure – as well as its rabid resistance to labor unions – to ensure bigger profits have prompted even the venerable international dictionaries Merriam-Webster’s, Random House Webster’s and Oxford English to coin or list the word “McJob” to denote a “low-paying” or “low-quality” job.

McDonald’s anti-worker and anti-union practices have also been widely imitated and intensified by both global and local brands in the fast food industry, including its American competitors Burger King, Wendy’s, KFC, among others, as well as homegrown fast food restaurants led by Jollibee.

The country’s top fast food chain, Jollibee is also notorious for its low pays and routine use of “endo” – acronym for “end-of-contract” workers or those with short-term and unprotected work contracts, which are also called “5-5-5” scheme where workers are endlessly hired and fired every five months to prevent them from having permanent or regular employment status.

The Geneva-based IUF is the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations.