New Year layoffs in Henry Sy bank denounced


National labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno condemned today the illegal dismissal of 11 employees of Planters Development Bank owned by business tycoon Henry Sy, claiming the company is trying to prevent employees from getting a better Collective Bargaining Agreement and maintaining their union.

The layoff of the messengers and janitors, all members of the Planters Development Bank Employees Association, was deemed effective last December 30 and comes in the heels of the management’s refusal, since September this year, to respond to the union’s proposals in ongoing negotiations for a CBA.

KMU accused the PDB management of sabotaging CBA negotiations until the bank’s merger with China Bank Savings is completed, in order to deny PDB employees of higher wages and benefits and to bust the PDBEA.

“The illegal dismissal of 11 Planters Bank employees on New Year’s eve highlights Contractualization King Henry Sy’s heartlessness towards workers. We consider this an attack not only on the 11 employees and all bank employees, but on all Filipino workers,” said Jerome Adonis, KMU secretary-general.

The labor leader said the management’s attacks on Planters Bank employees and the PDBEA may be a signal of another wave of attacks on bank employees, who have been suffering from the implementation of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Circular No. 268, which allows the outsourcing of almost all banking functions, and has allowed layoffs of regular bank employees.

“We are calling on all bank employees, all pro-worker formations, and all workers to condemn the intensifying attacks on Planters Bank employees. The attempt to bust the PDBEA or any union is a prelude to more brutal moves to press down wages, promote contractualization and violate workers’ rights,” Adonis added.

KMU also called on proprietors of Small- and Medium-scale Enterprises investing in the bank, which prides itself as an SME bank, to express to the PDB management their concern for the retrenchment of 11 employees who were holding regular positions and whose average length of service in the company is 20 years.

“We support the 11 employees and the PDBEA in rejecting the management’s offer of a separation package and standing up for employment and their union. Money can’t compensate for this injustice and violation of workers’ rights,” Adonis stated.

The consequence of failing to deliver: On Aquino’s vow to be run over by a train

Filipinos are talking about Pres. Noynoy Aquino’s infamous promise: if the LRT-1 Cavite Extension Project is not concluded within the year, he will go and stand in front of a moving train. The deadline is almost up, and through social media, citizens are reminding the chief executive of his promise. Their reminder has become too loud that Malacañang was forced to respond.

As many astute observers have commented, Aquino sealed the promise by invoking the good lessons that his parents taught him. Malacañang decries that the promise must not be taken literally; however, that does not mean it should not be taken seriously.

Filipinos are talking about the promise not because they think that the president will literally let himself be run over by a train. Their anger is not particular to the LRT-1 Cavite Extension Project. Rather, it is merely symptomatic of widespread dissatisfaction and anger regarding the MRT-LRT-PNR in general, and even the whole public transportation system, all of which got worse under Aquino.

Filipinos are critical and angry towards Aquino’s bold promises – in this area among many other fields of governance – and after six years, his massive failure to deliver.

The deaths of his mother and father were mourned by many Filipinos. Aquino is ending his term with Filipinos anticipating his being run over by a train. Literal or not, the message is clear: Filipinos long to be rid of Aquino, and this time, without even a trace of mourning.

Under Aquino’s presidency, ordinary citizens have been brutally sideswiped by his Daang Matuwid; now, they rightfully demand Aquino’s turn to suffer the consequences.

Poverty threshold is ‘statistical magic trick,’ wages in 2015 still inadequate – KMU

In a statement dated December 22, the Labor Department said Central Luzon will increase wages by P15-P20 per day starting January 1 and will bring the highest minimum wage in the region to P364, which is higher than the P248 poverty threshold in the region for a family of five.

With this, the Labor Department claimed that in 2015, for the first time in history, Filipino workers are enjoying wages above the poverty threshold. Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz even said that “This is a victory not only for all Filipino workers, but for all Filipinos.”

The so-called “poverty threshold” is one of the Aquino government’s statistical magic tricks to make it appear that it has lifted workers out of poverty and has reduced the number of Filipinos living in poverty. It does not mean an improvement in the lives of workers and their families.

Instead of actually, or significantly, increasing wages, the Aquino government invented a very low standard for measuring wages so that it could make the false claim that the condition of workers has improved. The Central Luzon poverty threshold of P248 for a family, or P49.60 for an individual, is most insulting and revolting for workers of the region and the entire country.

We reject the poverty threshold as a standard for measuring wages. It is pathetically low, its attainment does not mean an improvement in the lives of workers and their families. It does not even mean that they got some immediate relief from the soaring prices of basic goods and payments for basic services.

The poverty threshold is a result of the Aquino government’s objective of reducing the number of poor Filipinos in paper. What we want is a return to the living wage as a standard, which is part of workers’ and Filipinos’ struggle to actually reduce the number of poor Filipinos.

Instead of the poverty threshold, we support independent think-tank Ibon Foundation’s computation of the Family Living Wage, which was carried out before by the National Wages and Productivity Commission. In July 2015, Ibon estimated that the FLW was already at P1,086.

Using Ibon’s FLW as a standard, Filipino workers today are worse off than they were years ago. In 2001, the minimum wage was 50 percent of the FLW. Now, the Metro Manila minimum wage of P481, the highest in the country, is only 44 percent of the FLW. Because of soaring prices and meager wage hikes, the gap between the minimum wage and the FLW has increased.

We continue to demand a P125 across-the-board wage hike for Filipino workers. What we want is a significant wage hike that will bring the minimum wage closer to the living wage, and will correct the meager wage hikes that were approved for decades. This is the kind of wage increase that will give workers immediate relief.

We continue to demand the implementation of a National Minimum Wage in the amount of P750 for private-sector workers. We want an end to the unjust and extremely exploitative regionalized wage setting currently being implemented in the country.

2016 budget, fund for bad policies, corruption

PRESIDENT AQUINO SIGNS P3T NATIONAL BUDGET/ DECEMBER 22, 2015 President Benigno S. Aquino III signs into law Republic Act No. 10717, the P3.002-trillion General Appropriations Act (GAA) for Fiscal Year 2016, during the Presidential Enactment Ceremony at the Rizal Ceremonial Hall of the Malacañan Palace on Tuesday (December 22, 2015). Witnessing the ceremony are Senate President Franklin Drilon, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte and members of the House of Representatives and Senate, Cabinet Members, Diplomatic Corps, Business development Partners, 4P’s beneficiaries and other guests.  INQUIRER PHOTO/JOAN BONDO

(1) Pres. Noynoy Aquino calls the 2016 national budget “historic,” but it is still a budget for bad policies and for corruption and patronage. Passing a national budget before the year ends is not proof that national coffers are not being plundered. Public funds are still not being spent for the Filipino workers and people.

(2) Aquino tries to score propaganda points by accusing his predecessor of reenacting national budgets in order to pocket public funds. Yet he has failed to back these allegations up with charges and to secure a conviction despite being president for five years. We dare him: file more corruption charges against Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in relation to the national budgets passed under her term.

(3) The P436.5-billion budget for the DepEd is allotted to the implementation of the K+12 program, which aims to produce cheap and repressed Filipino labor and deny the majority of Filipino youth a chance to go to college.

The P400.4-billion budget for the DPWH and a segment of the DILG budget will surely go to corruption and patronage in connection with the 2016 national elections. All over Metro Manila, for example, roads that were in fine condition have been destroyed and repaired so that politicians can get their kickbacks. Independent think-tank Ibon Foundation has earlier warned that mechanisms similar to the DAP, responsible for increasing presidential pork, are retained in the proposed budget and that other pork barrel funds have been increased.

The P241.75 billion allotted to the DND and DILG will surely be pocketed by top military and police officials and be used to fund the implementation of Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan. The counter-insurgency plan has meant the militarization of the countryside, especially in Mindanao, the extra-judicial killings and illegal arrest and detention of activists, and other human rights violations.

Ibon has also warned the public of the existence of no less than P65.9 billion funds for projects under the Public-Private Partnership program. A big segment of the fund will be subsidies for the profits of Aquino’s cronies, the big capitalists who are beneficiaries of the PPP program.

Instead of implementing genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization in order to create decent jobs, Aquino is allotting P62.7 billion for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) conditional cash transfer program. The 4Ps is a palliative that won’t solve widespread joblessness, landlessness, poverty and hunger in the country.

(4) We condemn Aquino for ignoring the calls of government employees for a significant wage hike and of SSS pensioners for a pension hike. The 2016 national budget does not contain allocation for a significant increase in the monthly pay of government employees. Aquino signed the national budget into law but refuses to sign House Bill 5842, which was filed by Cong. Neri Colmenares and seeks a P2,000 across-the-board hike in pensioners of the SSS.

New WTO pact on ICT condemned by PH workers

Industries copy
National labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno condemned today the approval, in the ongoing 10th ministerial conference of the World Trade Organization in Nairobi, Kenya, of a new agreement that is set to eliminate tariffs on new Information and Communication Technology products.

The labor group said the approval of the Information Technology Agreement II, which expands the coverage of a previous agreement signed in 1996, means the further destruction of the country’s potential to manufacture ICT products, loss of revenues for the government, and deterioration of working conditions for the country’s electronics workers.

The ITA II, which includes the Philippines and was nearly stalled by China’s refusal to lower its tariffs, binds members to “cut 65 percent of their tariff lines down to zero duty upon the July 2016 entry into force, representing about 88 percent of imports of the covered products,” according to the WTO.

“We are not dazzled by the prospect of new electronic gadgets being dumped into the country. It’s the big foreign capitalists who will benefit from this new agreement, to the detriment of the country’s manufacturing capacity, the government’s revenues, and the country’s workers,” said Elmer “Ka Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.

The labor leader said the country’s experience with the first ITA shows that trade liberalization in electronic products has not meant the bridging of the technological divide within the country, nor between the Philippines and advanced capitalist countries.

“The availability of electronic products has not meant the bridging of the technological divide. The divide was built upon, and further aggravates, the class divide within the country and the development divide between underdeveloped countries like the Philippines and developed countries,” said Labog.

KMU said most factories of the country’s electronics sector are located within export-processing zones, where wages are pressed down even below the legally-mandated minimum, the overwhelming majority of workers are contractuals, and unionized workers are a tiny minority.

“The Philippines’ experience shows that trade liberalization in electronics has only intensified countries’ race to the bottom, to the lowest wages and basest working conditions, in order to attract investors. Many workers making the most advanced electronic products labor under some of the most backward working conditions,” said Labog.

The labor group said the Philippine government should have junked the ITA II, used tariffs strategically in order to build its manufacturing capacity in the ICT sector, and protected workers’ rights in the sector.

Aquino will be remembered as anti-OFW – KMU


Marking International Migrants’ Day with a march to Mendiola together with other progressive organizations this morning, workers led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno said Pres. Noynoy Aquino will go down in history as a president who’s against Overseas Filipino Workers.

The labor group said the chief executive, whose mother popularized the term “bagong bayani (modern-day heroes)” to refer to OFWs and institutionalized labor export as government policy, presided over the worst jobs crisis in history and carried out numerous attacks on the rights of OFWs.

KMU said that in 2015 alone, controversies surrounding the tanim-bala scam, the policy of opening up balikbayan boxes, and the government’s delayed action on the case of Mary Jane Veloso highlight Aquino’s criminal record with regard to the plight of Filipino migrant workers.

“Workers and all Filipinos have every reason to tag Aquino as an anti-OFW president and to remember him as such. He has intensified the government’s labor export policy while ignoring migrants’ welfare and even attacking their rights,” said Jerome Adonis, KMU secretary-general.

The labor leader cited independent think-tank Ibon Foundation’s claim that with 4.3 million unemployed and 7.9 million underemployed, the country is seeing the most number of jobless Filipinos in history.

He also cited Migrante International’s claim, based on data from the Labor Department and the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency, that OFW deployment increased from 4,018 per day in 2010 to 5,054 per day in 2015.

“Despite enjoying the effects of OFW remittances to the economy, Aquino has lent minimal support to OFWs on death row and in jail and to stranded OFWs and has failed to curb illegal recruitment and human trafficking. He is trying to increase exactions imposed on OFWs even as he fails to protect OFWs’ rights and welfare,” Adonis added.

KMU also said that the return of many OFWs to the country is not the result of so-called “inclusive growth” in the country but of the effects of the continuing Global Financial and Economic Crisis which has brought about anti-migrant employment policies and civil unrest in receiving countries.

On the big drop in Aquino’s SWS survey rating

It is important to pay attention to the nine-percentage drop, according to the Social Weather Stations, in Pres. Noynoy Aquino’s satisfaction rating from +41 in September to +32 this December.

The significant drop occurred without a major scandal rocking the Aquino government. Politicking for the 2016 elections has only reminded people of what Aquino promised during the 2010 elections and how these promises remain unfulfilled on the eve of another election.

Presidentiable Mar Roxas’ constant invocation of “daang matuwid,” as if this could deliver votes for him, could only force Filipinos to ask whether they are better off now than they were five years ago. The SWS survey shows that for many Filipinos, the answer is a resounding “no.”

Amidst widespread joblessness and landlessness, Filipinos know that life has only worsened and the economy hasn’t improved after five years. The heavy traffic and the legion of homeless in Metro Manila further confirm for many people the dismal state of the country’s economy.

Filipinos are waking up to the realization that Aquino served up only spectacles during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in the country last November. They know that Aquino was not able to present actual proof, or even the prospect, of genuine economic growth under his term.

Aquino would surely respond to this survey and to Filipinos’ growing anger at him with more lies. He would only show how he depended on lying to get himself elected and to maintain himself in power.

The December 2015 SWS survey is another indication that Aquino will end his term in infamy. Calls to make him accountable for his grave crimes to the Filipino workers and people are bound to become louder.

KMU to Aquino: sign SSS pension hike bill now!

After House Speaker Sonny Belmonte forwarded the bill seeking a P2,000 across-the-board pension hike for Social Security System retirees to the Office of the President, national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno called on Pres. Noynoy Aquino today to immediately sign the bill.

The labor group said the pension hike would make SSS pensioners’ Christmas a little merrier, because the measure is long overdue and is badly needed by SSS pensioners who want to buy more food and comply more with their medication.

Dapat matagal na itong inaprubahan, pero inabot na ng Pasko (This should have been approved a long time ago but has even reached Christmastime). Aquino should lessen being the Christmas Grinch and immediately sign this bill into law,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.

The labor leader said it’s high time that House Bill 5842 filed by Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares is signed into law and somehow remedy the embarrassingly low SSS pensions which have not been altered since 1997.

“Aquino would surely earn the ire of SSS pensioners, of workers and of the public if he simply allows 30 days to pass so that the bill will be considered approved. We will all consider it an outrage if he vetoes the bill outright for whatever reason,” Labog added.

KMU said Aquino has no reason to veto the bill because the SSS and the government have the funds to finance the pension hike and do not need to impose another round of premium hike before increasing pensions.

“The SSS has the funds for the pension hike. It will have more than enough funds if it improves its collection efficiency, goes after employers who refuse to remit workers’ contributions, reduces huge bonuses to board members, and reduces administrative costs,” Labog said.

KMU is calling on all SSS pensioners, all workers, and the public to maximize Facebook and all forms of social media to speak up for the pension hike until pensioners actually receive the increase.

Aquino delusional on jobs, achievements – KMU

“He should check his numbers or get his head checked. Or both.”

That was national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno’s reaction to Pres. Noynoy Aquino’s claim last Friday that the country’s employment situation improved under his term, and said that the chief executive is delusional in saying so and is getting desperate in trying to boost the presidential campaign of Mar Roxas.

The labor group said that Aquino, in invoking data on the supposed reduction of Overseas Filipino Workers and a decrease in unemployment rate, is cherry-picking data that would suit his interest and is hiding the real employment situation in the country.

“Aquino’s claims on the country’s employment situation and his so-called legacy are getting zanier and zanier. The jobs crisis in the country remains dire and the quality of available jobs miserable,” said Elmer “Ka Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.

The labor leader said the return of many OFWs to the country is a result of the continuing Global Financial and Economic Crisis affecting many countries, not the improvement in the country’s capacity to create jobs.

He also said that the country’s employment data are not reliable measurements of the jobs situation because the government sets a very low standard of what “employed” means, removes those who are jobless but not looking for work in the employed-unemployed count, and marks as “unemployed” only those who are actively seeking work.

“Aquino talking about improvements in the employment situation under his term is like hearing Ferdinand Marcos talking about improvements in the human rights situation under his term. Marcos failed to make himself win in 1986 and Aquino will fail to make Roxas win in 2016,” Labog added.

KMU cited independent think-tank Ibon Foundation’s July 2015 claim that, with 4.3 million unemployed and 7.9 million underemployed, the country under Aquino is facing the worst jobs crisis in history.

“Even if they are already considered ‘employed,’ workers know the real employment situation. Starvation wages, contractual employment, violation of union rights continue to be the norm. Capitalists have always used the dire employment situation to force workers to accept dire working conditions,” Labog stated.

KMU has been calling for a P125 across-the-board wage increase nationwide to bring the minimum wage closer to the Family Living Wage, as the gap between the two has continuously increased for years.

It has also been calling for the banning of contractual employment, which has further spread in both the private and public sectors in recent years.

KMU slams Sokor labor leader’s arrest

downloadNational labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno condemned today the arrest of Han Sang-gyun, president of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), last Wednesday, claiming the South Korean government is intensifying trade-union repression in order to implement policies that will result in mass retrenchment of workers and the pressing down of wages.

The labor group said Han’s arrest, which was carried out by the Park Gyun-he government in relation to huge and militant protests held by South Korean workers, is an attack on workers’ right to hold protests and air demands and is therefore an attack on workers all over the world.

“We condemn the Park Gyun-hye administration for arresting Han Sang-gyun and violently showing its hostility towards the working people of South Korea and their just demands. We fully support the KCTU’s struggle to improve workers’ condition and to force the South Korean government to scrap its latest anti-worker policies,” said Elmer “Ka Bong” Labog, Chairperson of KMU.

The labor leader called on unions and labor formations all over the country and the world to condemn Han’s arrest and show solidarity with the workers of South Korea who are battling policies that will enable employers to easily retrench workers and introduce performance-based wage-setting.

“South Korean president Park Gyun-he is showing to the world that she is indeed a daughter of military dictator Park Chung-hee. They are both dictators serving the interest of big foreign and local capitalists and deserve the most widespread condemnation of workers and peoples everywhere,” Labog added.

KMU also condemned the various forms of trade-union repression being carried out by the South Korean government: the issuance of an arrest warrant against Han for leading protests in March and April, the Nov. 6 raid of a KCTU union, and the repression of the 130,000-strong mobilization last Nov. 14, in which 51 were arrested and 100 were injured.

The KCTU headquarters and the offices of workers’ formations related to it were also raided last Nov. 21, the government tried to ban the workers’ Dec. 5 protest, and more than 2,000 policemen were deployed to the Joggye Buddhist Temple in order to arrest Han.

“We support KCTU’s plan to hold a strike on December 16 both to protest the arrest and intensify the struggle against the labor flexibilization policies. The South Korean government’s plan of legalizing the termination of full-time workers and their replacement of temporary or contractual workers is most unjust and should be condemned by all workers,” Labog added.