ALU-TUCP’s praise for Lorenzana, Año slammed by Mindanao workers

National labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno condemned the Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) for praising Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Eduardo Año as administrators of the martial law in Mindanao.

“We, Mindanao workers strongly condemn the ALU-TUCP’s praise for the top violators of our rights. Lorenzana and Año are the masterminds of martial law’s atrocities and brutal attacks against workers especially in Mindanao,” Carlo Olalo, KMU Southern Mindanao secretary general, said.

The Mindanao labor leader cited that the AFP yesterday threatened to burn down the UCCP-Haran compound in Davao City which serves as an evacuation camp for Lumads and workers who took refuge due to intensified militarization and aerial bombings in their communities under the martial law.

Workers from banana plantation giant Shin Sun Tropical Fruit Corporation in Compostela Valley have evacuated to the Haran compound after the AFP violently dispersed their 2-month strike against contractualization last June 2. Threats and harassments against workers from the AFP continue until today.

“It is grossly deplorable that a so-called labor center condones the perpetrators of atrocities against workers. It is high-time that our fellow workers and unionists affiliated with ALU-TUCP question their leaders. It would not be surprising if sooner or later, these fake labor leaders would also applaud the rights violators of their members,” Olalo said.

In a statement last June 15, the ALU-TUCP lauded Lorenzana and Año for their “adherence to the highest standards of professionalism and patriotism” as administrators of martial law in Mindanao which according to KMU is part of the government’s scheme to justify the US-backed state terrorism in Mindanao and the creeping martial law in the entire country.

“ALU-TUCP Vice President Louie Corral has long been a martial law apologist since the Marcos dictatorship. Now he is once again being mobilized by his CIA and AFP handlers to serve as a mouthpiece to justify the US-backed state terrorism and its attacks against workers in the guise of the war on terror,” said KMU secretary general Jerome Adonis.

Adonis added that “by standing with imperialist and fascists against workers’ rights and dignity, Mr. Corral has no right to claim himself as a labor leader. He should be rather be tagged as a CIA propagandist and attack dog against Filipino workers and people”.

Reshaping the world for labor

Speech delivered today by Kilusang Mayo Uno chairperson and Philippine Labor Sector Representative Elmer “Ka Bong” Labog at the plenary of the 106th session of the International Labour Conference in Geneva, Switzerland:

On June 2, a day before I left for this conference, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police joined by hired scabs and goons brutally attacked the picket line of the striking workers of the Korean-owned banana plantation giant Shin Sun Tropical Fruit Corporation in Mindanao. Fourteen Shin Sun union leaders and members were hog tied, imprisoned and were interrogated. Imposing their military rule, state security forces threatened to kill the striking workers if they refuse to end their almost 2-month strike against contractualization, union busting and for better working conditions. They were released on bail last June 7.

Brothers and sisters, these are challenging times for labor in the Philippines but also across the globe. Monopoly capitalist greed has shaped the world in favor of the accumulation of super profits for the 1 per cent while on the other hand, the 99 per cent, the workers and peoples of the world, are left on the losing end.

The neoliberal policies of globalization have worsened the poverty and injustice in the Philippines, especially among the workers and peasants. Among workers, neoliberal policies has intensified the attack on jobs and wages. The International Labor Organization has pegged the Philippines’ average monthly wage at $279, less than 20 per cent of the world’s average. The whole situation underscores the Filipino people’s aspiration and struggle to assert national sovereignty, genuine land reform and national industrialization.

Labor flexibilization through the prevalence of legitimized short-term contractual employment schemes, or locally known as contractualization, subjects the majority of Filipino workers to further pressed-down wages. It is estimated that there are over 24.4 million short-term contractual Filipino workers that are subjected to wages below the already meager minimum wage and are deprived of their rights to unionize and to collective bargaining. There are about 5 million child labourers now.

The use of these short-term contractual labor and precarious work, which has been described by the International Labor Forum as a global strategy to undermine decent work to cut labor costs by ceasing any employer-employee relationship from which all international and domestic labor laws are based.

In effect, contractualization has been used to violate every workers’ hard-won rights and dignity and there is widespread clamor among Filipino workers against contractualization. In fact, President Duterte’s electoral promise to wipe out contractualization was a major reason for his electoral victory.

The ILO has reported the Philippines as having the highest unemployment rate in Southeast Asia which, on the first quarter of this year alone, has been averaged at 8.61 per cent. Widespread unemployment, subsistence wages, irregular jobs and the worsening working and living conditions in the Philippines has forced 10 million of our population on an exodus abroad as migrant workers.

The Filipino workers’ struggles for living wage and decent work are violently countered by state repression. In 1986, the Kilusang Mayo Uno filed a case before the ILO on the murder of our late chairperson, Rolando Olalia, one of the first victims of state-sponsored extra-judicial killings after the fall of the Marcos dictatorship. After 30 years, the killings and persecution of unionists, activists and labor and human rights advocates persist.

Last May 23, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared Martial Law in Mindanao. Under the guise of combatting terrorism, Martial Law has been used by fascists and war mongers in his administration to suppress workers’ legitimate and just struggles such as the case of striking banana workers.

In this light, we seek the support of the ILO in calling on President Duterte to lift Martial Law and stop atrocities against Filipino workers and people.

More importantly, we seek that the ILO hold a high level mission to the Philippines to look into the violation of workers’ rights, prevalence of contractualization and other flexible labor schemes that has been a plague upon workers’ rights and dignity.

May the voice of the ILO ring loud against capitalist greed, and denounce the rule of less than 1 per cent of the world’s population, and uphold the rights of the working class whose toil has brought about the riches of this world. Let us all do our part in reshaping this unjust world. Let us work hand-in-hand, regardless of our creed, color, gender or work, in building a world that respects and upholds the rights and dignity of its workers and people over the profits of a few. Let us fight for a better world for the workers and for the people.

Long live international solidarity!

*Photo from Friends of Free Workers

PH tagged as ‘worst country for workers’ again

For the fourth consecutive time, the Philippines has been tagged as one of the “worst countries in the world for workers” on this year’s Global Rights Index report by the International Trade Union Confederation. This however is the country’s first time to be included in the ten-worst ranking together with South Korea and Kazakhstan.

National labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno expressed alarm over the country’s consistent low rankings on the ITUC Global Rights Index saying this reflects the fact that Filipino workers’ conditions are not getting any better and are even getting worse with the continuing government policies of cheap, contractual and suppressed labor.

“The ITUC report reflects the worsening conditions of labor in the country. Filipino workers’ rights are under attack by the onslaught of neoliberal economic policies of pressing down wages, legalized contractualization and suppression of workers’ democratic rights,” Jerome Adonis, KMU secretary general, said.

The ITUC Global Rights Index 2017 report ranked 139 countries according to 97 internationally recognized indicators on where workers’ rights are best protected in law and in practice.

The KMU meanwhile see the prevalence of contractualization, and its legitimization by the recently signed Department of Labor and Employment Order 174, as one of the key factor on the worsening violations against workers’ rights in the country saying contractual employment schemes deny 90 percent of Filipino workers of any employer-employee relationship status from which all international and local labor laws are based.

“Contractualization as the government’s employment policy has subjected majority of Filipino workers to gross labor rights violations and exploitation. Contractual workers, which according to Bureau of Labor Relations’ data compose 90 per cent of the total work force, are deprived of their basic rights to living wages, secured and regular jobs, to proper benefits and social protection, to unionize and to collective bargaining,” said Adonis.

The labor leader also claimed that the attacks against workers’ rights are being intensified by the Duterte administration’s imposition of martial law in Mindanao which is now being used as a license to curtail civil liberties and suppress workers’ legitimate and just demands.

“Duterte’s martial law only serves to further intensify the attacks against workers’ rights. Last June 2, a week since its imposition, martial law has been used as license to violently disperse and arrest workers of banana plantation giant Shin Sun Tropical Fruit Corporation in Mindanao who have been on strike for more than 2 months against contractualization and union busting,” Adonis said.

The KMU insisted that the Philippines’ consistently low rankings in the ITUC Global Rights Index report should serve as a wake-up call for the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte to break-away from the neoliberal economic framework of cheap, contractual and suppressed labor.

“Duterte can choose to uphold workers’ rights and dignity over corporate greed by rejecting the neoliberal economic policies imposed by the US through the IMF and World Bank. He can start by fulfilling his commitment to end contractualization and by lifting his anti-worker martial law,” Adonis said.

KMU meanwhile called on Filipino workers to unite in collective struggle to assert their rights and dignity against the escalating neoliberal attacks on labor.

“Only through our collective struggle can we assert our rights and dignity. We call on Filipino workers to unite and fight for our rights to living wages, regular jobs, to unionize, to collective bargaining and to strike which is now being trampled by neoliberal policies and Duterte’s creeping authoritarian rule,” said Adonis.

US meddling in Marawi tramples PH’s sovereignty

Joining today’s protests to commemorate the 119th Philippine Independence Day, national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno condemned the government of the United States of America for its continued intervention in the country amidst the continuing armed conflict in Marawi City.

“Filipino workers cannot commemorate national independence while a foreign power continue to trample our country’s sovereignty and patrimony. It was the US that instigated the armed crisis in Marawi. It is the US’ meddling that has escalated this conflict which has already, killed, injured, displaced and violated the rights of hundreds of thousands of Filipinos,” said KMU secretary general Jerome Adonis.

The KMU insisted that the conflict in Marawi was US instigated citing that the crisis came after President Rodrigo Duterte forged greater economic, political and military ties with China and Russia which threatens the US’ geopolitical and economic interests in the Philippines.

“The Marawi siege was the US’ response to Duterte’s pro-China and pro-Russia leanings. The US mobilized their henchmen defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana, National Security adviser Hermohenes Esperon and AFP Chief of Staff Eduardo Año to sow terror in Mindanao under the guise of an anti-terror operation against Isnilon Hapilon, an alleged leader of the US-backed ISIS in the Philippines,” said Adonis.

The labor leader meanwhile challenged President Duterte to live by his pronouncements of an independent foreign policy and reject the US’ continued intervention in the country.

“President Duterte must standby his independent foreign policy pronouncements by rejecting the US’ continued intervention. He should put his anti-US colonialism words into action by driving-off their troops away from our country. This is only way for Duterte to prove that his foreign policy is genuinely independent,” Adonis said.

KMU also called on Duterte to lift his martial law in Mindanao saying not only has it given license to the military’s brutal attack against the workers and people’s rights and civil liberties, it also gives the US a stronger foothold over the country’s political, economic and military affairs.

“Duterte’s martial law not only gives license to the military’s fascist attacks against the people, it also gives license to further US intervention. With their top henchmen in command of the authoritarian rule in Mindanao, the US has now a stronger foothold over the country’s political, economic and military affairs. This is exactly what the US is after in instigating the Marawi conflict,” said Adonis.

Adonis ended by calling on Filipino workers and people to condemn the US for using civilians in Marawi City as hostage to enforce their imperialist rule over the Philippines and to unite and fight for national sovereignty against US intervention.

Martial law’s attacks on labor condemned by Mindanao workers

Mindanao workers led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno trooped the Department of Labor and Employment office in Manila to demand the lifting of President Rodrigo Duterte’s martial law and to condemn its atrocities against striking banana plantation workers in Compostela Valley.

Last June 2, twelve workers of the Korean-owned Shin Sun Tropical Fruit Corporation and their supporters, including a minor and an elderly, were injured and arrested when combined elements of 66th Infantry Battalion (IB) of Philippine Army and PNP Compostela Valley violently dispersed the 2-month strike against contractualization and union busting.

“We condemn the violent dispersal and arrests of striking Shin Sun workers in Mindanao. The despotic military officials in connivance with foreign and local capitalists have been using Duterte’s martial law as a license to curtail civil liberties and suppress workers’ legitimate and just demands,” Jerome Adonis, KMU secretary general said.

The labor leader added that the attack against Shin Sun workers could serve as a prelude to further suppression of other workers’ strikes in Mindanao and sends a chilling effect on workers asserting their legitimate demands against contractualization and for a significant wage hike.

“This heinous attack against Shin Sun workers proves that Duterte’s martial law is not aimed at combatting terrorism but instead at sowing state-terror against the workers of Mindanao who have been strongly asserting their rights and dignity against capitalists’ greed and exploitation,” Adonis said.

KMU meanwhile called on President Duterte to lift his martial law in Mindanao and demanded that AFP and PNP officials together with the Shin Sun management be held accountable for their gross violations of labor and human rights.

“These atrocious attacks against workers and the people of Mindanao must stop. We call on President Duterte to lift his martial law and hold the AFP, PNP and Shin Sun management accountable for their gross violations of labor and human rights,” Adonis said.

Shin Sun workers launched their strike last April 6 after the company dismissed 80 workers including 53 union leaders and members. For 2 months, the striking workers have successfully paralyzed the plantation’s operation and assert their demand for reinstatement as regular workers.

Atrocities against Mindanao workers under martial law slammed

National labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno condemned the Duterte administration’s martial law atrocities and abuses against the striking workers of Shin Sun Tropical Fruit Corporation in Compostela Valley.

During a press conference in Quezon City, the KMU exposed that last June 2, twelve workers of the Korean-owned banana plantation and their supporters, including a minor and an elderly, were injured and arrested when combined elements of 66th Infantry Battalion (IB) of Philippine Army and PNP Compostela Valley violently dispersed the 2-month strike against contractualization and union busting.

“We condemn the violent dispersal and arrests of striking Shin Sun workers in Mindanao. These atrocities prove that Duterte’s martial law is being used to curtail civil liberties and attack workers’ legitimate and just demands,” Lito Ustarez, KMU vice chairperson for political and external affairs, said.

According to Shin Sun workers, soldiers leading the dispersal were claiming that “This is Martial law and we don’t honor the labor code,” which KMU claim is an utmost disregard for workers’ constitutional and civil rights which, under Duterte’s Proclamation No. 216, remains in effect.

“These violent attacks against workers’ rights must stop. We call on President Duterte to lift his martial law and hold the AFP and the PNP accountable for their atrocities against workers and the people of Mindanao,” Ustarez said.

The KMU meanwhile said that they will raise the violent dispersal of the Shin Sun workers strike and other martial law atrocities against Filipino workers and people before the International Labour Organization as they attend as head of the Philippine Labor Sector Delegation to the 106th Session of the International Labour Conference which also opens today in Geneva, Switzerland.

“As head of the Philippine labor delegation to the International Labour Conference, we will seek the support of the ILO and other workers around the globe in condemning these atrocities against workers under Duterte’s martial law. We will seek before the ILO to come to the Philippines to look into the dispersal of the Shin Sun workers’ strike and other violent attacks against workers’ rights and dignity.” Ustarez said.