Duterte’s SONA should tackle workers’ demands

 

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Joining the People’s SONA protests, workers led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno called on President Rodrigo Duterte to discuss his plans on addressing workers’ demands on his first State of the Nation Address.

“Workers join today’s march to Batasan to show our willingness to support President Duterte in implementing pro-worker and pro-people reforms such as ending of contractualization and raising workers’ wages. We expect him to present concrete plans on how his administration aims to address our workers’ demands,” Elmer “Ka Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson said.

Carrying giant gears that spells out “Kontraktwalisasyon Ibasura”, workers urged Duterte to fulfill his commitment to end the rampant labor contractualization in the country. Independent think-tank IBON foundation estimates that four out of ten (43.5%) rank-and-file workers are hired under various contractual employment schemes.

“Workers are eager to hear President Duterte’s plans on how he would end contractualization in the country. All forms of contractualization must stop. Both the legal job contracting and the illegal labor only contracting should be banned as they both violate basic workers’ rights,” Labog said.

The KMU earlier proposed immediate and actual measures to curb contractualization such as signing an Executive Order regularizing all workers employed under contractual employment schemes for more than 6 months, junking of Department of Labor and Employment Order 18-A that institutionalized contractualization under the Aquino administration, and ordering the “super-majority” to prioritize the passage of the House Bill 556 or the Regular Employment Bill filed by Anakpawis Partylist.

 

The labor center also called on President Duterte to support Filipino workers’ clamor for a National Minimum Wage of seven hundred and fifty pesos (P750) a day for private sector employees and sixteen thousand pesos (P16,000) monthly for government employees.

“Workers’ demand for a National Minimum Wage is just and achievable. It would give immediate relief against the growing hunger and poverty among workers and their families. It must be aimed at bringing all existing wage levels closer to the living wage,” said Labog.

 

The KMU claimed that the P481 minimum wage in the National Capital region, the highest wage level in the country, does not even come half of the P1,096 estimated Family living wage. Labog also cited IBON foundation’s study showing almost half (46.1%) of wage and salary workers earn below the minimum wage, 24.6% are able to receive the minimum wage, and only 29.4% receive higher than the minimum wage.

Workers also carried banners showing faces of detained unionists and labor rights defenders to express their demand for the resumption of the peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and for the release of all political prisoners.

“Workers are also looking forward the resumption of the GPH-NDFP peace talks and the release of all political prisoners including unionists and labor rights defenders. The peace talks would serve as a venue to raise workers’ demands while the release of political prisoners would ensure that both parties honor previously signed agreements,” Labog said.

The KMU is optimistic that Duterte would stay committed to his promise of a meaningful change in the country and expressed willingness to support his pro-worker and pro-people policies.

“For the first time, a President allowed workers and the people to air out their demands near the House of Representatives where he will deliver his SONA. We hope that this also means President Duterte would heed and act on our workers’ legitimate demands for a meaningful change, development and peace.” Labog said.

Duterte’s SONA: What workers want to hear

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On President Rodrigo Duterte’s first State of the Nation Address, Filipino workers want to hear concrete plans on how the new administration would fulfill its commitment to end contractualization in the country.

Particularly, we want to hear him announce immediate and actual measures to curb contractual labor such as signing an Executive Order regularizing all workers employed under contractual employment schemes for more than 6 months, junking of Department of Labor and Employment Order 18-A that institutionalized contractualization under the Aquino administration, and ordering the “super-majority” to prioritize the passage of the House Bill 556 or the Regular Employment Bill filed by Anakpawis Partylist.

We welcome the Duterte administration’s firm commitment to end “endo” or the 5-5-5 scheme. However, we also urge President Duterte to also ban all contractual employment schemes. Both the legal job contracting and the illegal labor only contracting should be banned as they both violate basic workers’ rights and subject workers to the worst forms of labor exploitation.

All forms of contractualization must stop. It has become very rampant in the country that more and more workers are becoming victims of these demeaning and unjust schemes. Independent think-tank IBON foundation estimates that four out of ten (43.5%) of rank-and-file workers are hired under various contractual employment schemes.

We also urge President Duterte to support Filipino workers’ clamor for the implementation of a National Minimum Wage of seven hundred and fifty pesos (P750) a day for private sector employees and sixteen thousand pesos (P16,000) monthly for government employees.

It is a just and achievable demand that would give immediate relief against the growing hunger and poverty among workers and their families. This will enforce a genuine national minimum wage in the country and bring existing legally-mandated minimum wage levels closer to the living wage.

The P481 minimum wage in the National Capital region, the highest wage level in the country, does not even come half of the P1,096 estimated Family living wage. Worse, most workers receive wages below the mandated minimum wage. According to IBON foundation, almost half (46.1%) of wage and salary workers earn below the minimum wage, 24.6% are able to receive the minimum wage, and only 29.4% receive higher than the minimum wage.

Tomorrow, Filipino workers will march to Batasan to urge President Duterte to address these pressing issues and demands in his first SONA. We will also show our willingness to support his administration in implementing pro-worker and pro-people reforms such as ending of contractualization and raising workers’ wages.

Release of peace consultants before SONA sought

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Workers led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno held a Metro Manila wide Peace Caravan to call for the release of National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace consultants, before President Duterte’s State of the Nation Address on July 25.

“We urge the Philippine government peace panel to hasten the release of illegally detained NDFP peace consultants before President Duterte’s first SONA. Their release would be crucial to the resumption of the peace talks as it guarantees that previously signed agreements would be honored” Jerome Adonis, KMU secretary general, said.

KMU claimed that among the 22 illegally detained NDFP consultants are unionists and labor rights defenders namely Adelberto Silva, Renante Gamara, Benito and Wilma Tiamzon and Ernesto Lorenzo.

“Workers are looking forward for the immediate of labor rights advocates among the NDFP consultants so they could raise workers’ issues and struggles in the peace talks. Aside from being key personalities in the peace talks, they should also be released immediately on humanitarian ground because of their health conditions” Adonis said.

The workers’ peace caravan converged along Welcome Rotonda with a symbolical display of dove-shaped placards showing workers’ demands for a meaningful change and just and lasting peace.

The labor center meanwhile expressed disappointment over the postponement of the formal talks which was announced by Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza. According to the Dureza, the GPH panel has proposed to move the talks on August 20 instead of the previously agreed July 28 to give time for the release of NDFP consultants.

“The GPH should not prolong the incarceration of NDFP consultants. They have already been unjustly detained for too long. However, we are hopeful that the postponement of the talks would give time for the administration to fulfill its commitment to release all 22 peace consultants” Adonis said.

KMU meanwhile put up posters and handed out leaflets calling on workers to support the resumption of the GPH-NDFP peace talks which would also serve as a venue to raise workers’ demands for a meaningful change and just and lasting peace in the country.

We call on our fellow workers to support the peace talks. The talks would serve as a venue to raise our concerns for regular jobs, decent wages and respect for workers’ rights. In doing so, we must push the President Duterte to fulfill his promise of peace and oppose the elements who wants to sabotage his initiative to resolve the long-standing armed conflict in the country.” Adonis said.

Korean embassy picketed to demand the release of KCTU President

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Wearing red headbands as a symbol of support, Filipino workers led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) held a solidarity protest action in front of the South Korean Embassy, to call for the release of Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) President Han Sang-gyun and other trade union activists.
“Fighting for workers’ rights is not a crime. No worker should be jailed for exercising his rights. We believe that the actions against Han and other trade unionists clearly show the trade union repression in South Korea,”Jerome Adonis, KMU secretary general, said.

koremba2Han was sentenced to five years in prison on charges of obstruction for leading workers in a legitimate protest action in November 2015 against labor reforms undermining the rights of workers and their trade unions.
“We stand in solidarity with KCTU and all workers of Korea. We are calling for the immediate release of Han Sang-gyun and all other trade union activists. We enjoin workers and peoples of different countries to show their support for Korean workers and to link their own struggles against anti-worker and anti-people laws and measures. Long live international solidarity!” Adonis said.

koremba3Since 2015, protest actions in South Korea were led by KCTU to oppose regressive labour reforms promoted by the government. The government has then criminalized unionists for leading and supporting peaceful workers’ assemblies.

Arrests and other forms of harassments were executed, and trumped-up charges filed against 585 KCTU leaders and members, 20 of whom are in custody and seven facing indictment.

 

 

Turnaround in TUCP’s stand vs contractualization slammed

 

IMG_9209National labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno slammed the sudden turnaround of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP)-Nagkaisa faction’s position against contractualization.

“We are disgusted by the TUCP-Nagkaisa’s sudden shift in their stand against contractualization. They have betrayed Filipino workers by taking the side of capitalists in institutionalizing contractual employment in the country,” said Jerome Adonis, KMU secretary general said.

 

Alan A. Tanjusay, spokesperson of the TUCP-Nagkaisa, yesterday announced that their union has shifted in their position and now recognizes that contractual employment can be appropriate in some cases.

 

“Violations of workers’ rights can never be appropriate in any case. Our rights to regular jobs, decent wages and to organization and collective bargaining, which are being trampled by contractualization, are not negotiable.” Adonis said.

 

The labor leader stressed KMU’s position that all forms of contractualization must be banned.

 

“All contractual employment schemes violate workers’ rights and dignity. These schemes, whether the legal job contracting or the illegal labor-only contracting, subjects workers to the worst forms of exploitation and therefore should be banned” said Adonis.

 

The KMU claimed that workers have already drafted proposals to President Duterte and to labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on how to end all forms of contractualization.

 

“We have drafted concrete and actionable proposals on how to curb all contractualization schemes. We will push the Duterte administration to heed these proposals to fulfill its commitment of ending contractualization” Adonis said.

Workers seek dialogue with newly formed TWG on contractualization

 

DSC_0038National labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno is seeking a dialogue with the newly formed Department of Labor and Employment Technical Working Group on contractualization to present workers’ proposals on how to end all contractual employment schemes.

 

“We welcome the DOLE’s formation of a technical working group to address labor contractualization in the country. Workers are eager to sit down with them and present our concrete and actionable proposals on how to totally curb all contractual employment schemes” Jerome Adonis, KMU secretary general, said.
Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III is set convene today DOLE regional directors, selected heads of bureaus, attached agencies, and services to discuss issues and strategies to fulfill the Duterte administration’s commitment to end labor contractualization in the country.

 

KMU insisted that the government’s anti-contractualization efforts must aim to promote regular employment by ending all forms of labor contractualization as all contractual employment schemes violates workers’ rights.

“Labor-Only Contracting and Job Contracting must both be outlawed. All forms of contractual employment schemes denies workers’ their basic rights and tramples their dignity as human beings. Contractual workers, whether employed in legal or illegal schemes, are subjected to worst forms of labor exploitation” Adonis said.

The labor center also slammed the Employers’ Confederation of the Philippines for “posturing” against contractualization saying these big businesses only pushing for the institutionalization of Job Contracting.

“These Pontius Pilates only want to wash their hands clean for it is they who have long been the promoters of contractual employment in the country. They are merely posturing against labor only contracting to legalize and institutionalize their own contractualization schemes” said Adonis.

The KMU meanwhile urged the Duterte administration to depart itself from the previous Aquino administration by not following its line of distinction between legal and illegal contractualization schemes.

“President Duterte promised that contractualization will stop when he assumes presidency. He did not say some contractualization will stop and some will be legalized. To fulfill his promise of change, the Duterte administration should promote regular jobs by ending all contractualization schemes. This is the change that workers’ need.” Adonis said.

Workers’ agenda for change presented

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Today we present to President Rodrigo Duterte the Filipino workers’ agenda for a real and meaningful change. We are in high-hopes that the new administration is committed in fulfilling its promised pro-worker and pro-people reforms.

 

Workers’ demands for change to President Duterte are as follows; 1) End all contractualization schemes, 2)Implement a National Minimum Wage of P750, 3) Stop trade union repression, 4) Uphold workers’ rights and welfare, 5) support workers’ aspirations for a just and lasting peace.
We hope that Duterte will stand firm on his commitment to end labor contractualization. All contractual employment schemes violate basic workers’ rights and should therefore be banned. We are willing to work with the Department of Labor and Employment on drafting proposals and measures that would totally curb contractualization.

 

We encourage President Duterte to act out his approval for a standard minimum wage in all regions. Specifically, workers are demanding a National Minimum Wage of P750. This would serve as an immediate relief to workers and their families and would counter the distortion of the minimum wage caused by the Wage Rationalization Law.

 

Workers also demand that trade union repression be stopped. No worker should be retrenched for exercising their rights to unionize. The power of the Labor Secretary should be regulated and Republic Act 6715 should be repealed including the assumption of jurisdiction over labor disputes which gave license to massacre strikers in Hacienda Luisita and to other violent dispersals of workers’ legitimate strikes.

 

We call on the Duterte government to uphold workers rights and welfare mandated by the constitution and international labor laws including the increase of social security pensions, tax relief for workers and upholding occupational health and safety standards.

We recognize Duterte’s efforts in pursuing peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. The talks should bring substantial socio-economic reforms that genuinely address the root causes of the armed conflict in the country. We also seek the release of all political prisoners including labor rights advocates who have been illegally detained and filed with trumped-up charges for defending workers’ rights and welfare.

 

Workers also call on President Duterte to hold former President Benigno Aquino III for his crimes against Filipino workers and people. He is a Pork Barrel addict who siphoned off trillions of taxes to his presidential pork barrel funds through the Disbursement Acceleration Program. He is the “Comman-death in chief” that ordered the Mamasapano carnage; and took lives of hundreds of innocent workers, peasants and Lumad through his counter-insurgency plan, Oplan Bayanihan.

 

We compel our ranks to be the driving force in realizing the long-awaited change promised by the Duterte administration. Workers are willing to support President Duterte in implementing pro-worker and pro-people reforms. We however will remain vigilant against foreign and local elites, the big capitalists and landlords hellbound to sabotage reforms and continue their oppressive rule.
We enjoin the Filipino workers and people to organize and collectively act our aspirations for a meaningful change and for genuine development, justice and peace.

Free Han Sang-gyun! Asserting workers’ rights is not a crime!

Filipino workers stand in solidarity with the workers and people of Korea in condemning the unjust sentencing of labor leader Han Sang-gyun to five years of imprisonment for standing up for workers’ rights and welfare.

Free Han Sang-gyun!
Stop trade union repression!
Solidarity with the workers and people of Korea!

Davao court ruling vs Nakashin strike slammed

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“The Nakashin workers’ demands are just and legitimate. As long as the management refuses to negotiate, workers have every right to continue their strike”

This was the statement of National labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno as they slammed the Davao Regional Trial Court Branch 10’s ruling issuing a writ of preliminary injunction against the striking workers of Davao Nakashin International Inc.

 

“Davao RTC’s ruling against the Nakashin workers’ strike is unacceptable. The court has ruled against workers without taking into account that it was, in the first place, the Nakashin management’s violations of workers’ rights that forced them to protest,” Jerome Adonis, KMU secretary general said.
The labor leader insisted that the local court has no jurisdiction over the Nakashin strike as labor disputes should be resolved through the Department of Labor and Employment and the National Labor Relations Commission.
“The local court cannot simply order the eviction of workers’ picket-line without first resolving Nakashin’s violation of workers’ rights which caused the strike. Labor disputes must first and foremost be resolved through conciliations and negotiations administered by labor department” he added.

Nakashin workers launched their strike after the management illegally retrenched 75 long-term contractual workers for demanding regularization and for refusing to sign quitclaim waivers.

KMU meanwhile called the ruling a bad precedent in labor disputes as it undermines workers’ rights to freedom of organization, expression and collective bargaining.
“The Davao court’s ruling could serve as a bad precedent in future labor disputes as it allows capitalists to refuse negotiating with workers. This undermines our workers’ basic rights,” Adonis said.