WE ARE ON STRIKE! – Piston, NTPC, KMU

Joint Press Statement
16 October 2017

We are on strike!
2-day nationwide transport strike vs Duterte’s jeepney phase-out kicked-off today

Today we go on strike! We, Public Utility Jeepney drivers, operators and commuters, demand that the Duterte government junk its corporate monopoly-driven jeepney phase-out program and instead adopt a modernization program geared towards a nationalized mass transport system that is beneficial to drivers, operators and the riding public.

Duterte’s phase-out scheme through the Department of Transportation’s Omnibus Franchising Guidelines aims to turn our PUJs to another MRT-LRT, a government abandoned mass transport system that has become a milking cow of the monopoly of profit greedy big businesses and corrupt government officials.

The phase-out scheme will displace over a million Filipinos in the PUJ industry, drivers, operators and other PUJ based informal workers. No small operator and driver can come up with over 30 million pesos required capital to purchase new units and apply for a franchise. The government’s much hyped subsidy of 80,000 per unit will only bury us in deep debts we can never repay.

It would also burden our commuters with minimum fares rising up to 20 pesos and deregulated fare hikes through the Ayala owned Beep Automated Fare Collection System. It will also cause gross inconvenience to commuters due to a profit-oriented route rationalization scheme.

Our basis and demands to strike are just and legitimate. We will not be intimidated by the Duterte government’s threats and intrigues to undermine our 2-day nationwide strike against his anti-poor and pro-big business phase-out scheme.

Instead of heeding our demands, the government has been building-up a scenario of “destabilization” to justify their harsh or even violent response towards our just and legitimate demands. Duterte is the one destabilizing himself by implementing anti-people policies that earns him the ire of Filipino workers and people.

Amidst their threats and intrigues slurred by the Duterte government through the DOTr and the LTFRB to pit drivers and operators against commuters, it remains clear that this government is hell-bent on displacing drivers and operators and on burdening commuters to complete the monopoly take-over of our country’s mass transport system by Duterte’s big business cronies, the Ayalas, Pangilinans and Cojuangcos, and foreign auto-industry giants Toyota, Mitsubishi and General Motors.

Day 1 of nationwide transport strike vs jeepney phase-out hits 90% paralyzation

The No to Jeepney Phaseout Coalition, PISTON and Kilusang Mayo Uno declared a successful first day of the 2-day Nationwide Transport Strike against the Duterte government’s Jeepney Phase-out Scheme by claiming a 90% nationwide paralyzation of jeepney operations across the country.

“The first day of our nationwide transport strike has successfully gathered an overwhelming participation and support of majority of PUJ drivers, operators and commuters. This should serve as a warning to the Duterte government to junk its phase-out scheme and instead adopt a pro-people modernization program that is not geared towards the corporate monopoly take-over of our mass transport system,” George San Mateo, PISTON national president and No to Jeepney Phaseout Coalition convenor.

The No to Jeepney Phaseout Coalition claimed that over 90% or 225,000 out of the estimated 250,000 total number of PUJ units nationwide participated on the first day of the strike. This number has been supported by thousands of commuters and people’s organizations.

“The number of participants in today’s strike debunks the government’s intrigues that only PISTON opposes the phaseout program. Even members of Pasang Masda, ACTO, FEJODAP, 1-UTAK and ALTODAP rejected their leaders and joined the strike. This only proves the broad outrage against the government’s scheme to rid us of our livelihood and burden our commuters for the sake of foreign and local big business profits,” San Mateo added.

National labor center KMU meanwhile slammed the Duterte government for desperately resorting to spreading “fake news” of destabilization to justify the day long harassments against participants of the strikes and the filing of trumped-up charges of economic sabotage against George San Mateo.

“The Duterte government is well aware of the strong rejection among drivers, operators and commuters over their anti-poor phase-out scheme. That is why they desperately spread the fake news of destabilization to justify the harassments against strike participants all over the country and the filing of trumped-up charges against our leaders. But their attempts to quell the protests were in vain,” Elmer “Ka Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson, said.

KMU also condemned the government for rejecting the demands to junk the phase-out scheme and the implementation of a modernization program geared towards a nationalized mass transport system that is beneficial to drivers, operators and the riding public amidst today’s strike and warned that more strikes and protests will be held until their just and legitimate demands are met.

“Amidst the strong rejection among drivers, operators and commuters expressed today, the Duterte government remains hell-bent on completing the monopoly control of the Ayalas, Pangilinans and Cojuangcos of our mass transport system. Tomorrow, the strike will continue. Duterte also can only expect bigger strikes and protests until he junks his anti-poor phase-out scheme.” Labog said. ###

2-day transport strike to demand junking of Duterte’s jeepney phaseout program

We, public utility jeepney drivers, operators and commuters are united in holding the 2-day nationwide transport strike and people’s protest on October 16-17 to demand the junking of the Duterte administration’s Jeepney Phaseout Program.

Contrary to government’s claims, Duterte’s phaseout program, through the Department of Transportation’s Omnibus Franchising Guidelines, is not modernization but an abandonment of its constitutional duty to provide a safe, efficient and affordable mass transport system as a public service. Just as it did with other public services and utilities, Duterte is handing over our mass transport system to the monopoly control of profit greedy oligarchs and foreign big automotive corporations.

The Duterte administration wants to massacre the livelihood of over 600,000 PUJ drivers and 300,000 small operators and turn our PUJ’s operations into a milking cow of his big business cronies, the Ayalas, Pangilinans, Aboitizes and Cojuangcos. This would also result in an employment crisis as millions will be added in the already ever-increasing number of unemployed Filipinos.

For commuters, it would result in unabated fare hikes with the minimum fare increasing to at least 20 pesos through the Ayala owned BEEP automated fare collection system. It would also cause greater inconveniences as the route rationalization and fleet management scheme would set lesser PUJ routes to favor private vehicles and the big business owned Bus-Rapid-Transit. This would also not ease the traffic crisis as PUJs only compose 2% of total registered vehicles in the country.

Duterte’s phaseout program would also be a burden to all tax payers as the government also aims to impose greater taxes through the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act (TRAIN) to subsidize the big businesses and banks investing in the program.

PUJ drivers, operators and commuters should not be the ones to suffer for the government’s bureaucratic corruption, transport misgovernance and private profit oriented policies that has resulted in the country’s anarchic and big-business controlled transport system. The PUJ system is in fact a solution developed by poor Filipinos to cover-up for the government’s failure to address their mass transport woes.

Instead of phasing out PUJs, the government should promote modernization through the nationalization of an affordable, safe and efficient mass transport system. The government can start by taking back the MRT and LRT from the Ayalas and Pangilinans and improve its operations to cover the riding public mass transport needs.

Rather than subsidizing the onerous importation and procurement of new PUJ units, the government can use its funds to support our local jeepney manufacturers by subsidizing their modernization and development of greener PUJs.

Kilusang Mayo Uno | PISTON | No to Jeepney Phaseout Coalition | Unified Transport Federation of Makati | Bayyo Association Inc. (Bai) | RIZAL ALLIANCE VS PUJ PHASE OUT | CAMANAVA Transport Alliance Against Jeepney Phaseout | Riles Laan sa Sambayanan (RILES) Network | All Workers’ Unity | Kilos Na Manggagawa

2-day nationwide transport strike vs PUJ phaseout set

Transport workers led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno, transport alliance Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (PISTON) and other transport and commuters’ groups under the No to Jeepney Phaseout Coalition announced today that they will hold a two-day nationwide transport strike on October sixteen to seventeen to demand the demand the junking of the Duterte administration’s PUJ Phaseout program that would ‘massacre’ the livelihood of over 600,000 PUJ drivers and operators nationwide.

“Duterte has not only rejected our demand to junk the previous Aquino administration’s PUJ phaseout program, he is now even rushing its implementation to complete the monopoly take-over of our livelihood by his big business cronies and foreign auto industry giants,” said PISTON National President George San Mateo.

The phaseout program will be implemented on starting January 2018 through the Department of Transportation’s Omnibus Franchising Guidelines which forces PUJ drivers and operators to purchase a minimum of ten ‘brand new’ PUJ units which costs over 1.6 million pesos each and will be operated under a ‘fleet management’ scheme run by big transport companies while fares would be collected through the “Beep card” automated collection system owned and operated by the big business Ayala-Pangilinan consortium who has also a monopoly control over the MRT and LRT.

“They want to rid small operators and drivers of our livelihood to hand over to the monopoly control of big foreign and local businesses. Only big transport corporations can come up with over 20 million pesos to comply with the DOTr’s new guidelines. Worse, this phaseout scheme is in line with the Ayala-Pangilinan consortium’s plan to monopolize the country’s mass transport system,” San Mateo said.

The KMU meanwhile called on the riding public, especially the workers, students and professionals to stand with PUJ drivers and operators against the corporate monopoly control of our mass transport system.

“Duterte is conniving with his big business cronies and foreign auto-industry giants in completing the corporate monopoly control of our mass transport system. This would result in massive joblessness among transport workers and other informal livelihood base on PUV operations. For commuters, it would result in deregulated fare hikes and regressive service since it would be turned to a milking cow of big corporations,” said Elmer “Ka Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson said.

The labor center meanwhile claimed that the 2-day strike, the first time in decades, aims to show that PUJ drivers and operators and the riding public will not allow the Duterte government to push through with its anti-people and pro-big business PUJ phaseout program.

“We call on all PUJ drivers and operators nationwide to join the 2-day strike and show Duterte that we will not give-up our livelihood and our families’ future to big businesses. We also call on the riding public of workers, students and professionals to take part in the strike by holding mass actions in support of our drivers and operators and to demand for a nationalized safe, efficient and affordable mass transport system,” said Labog.

Duterte killing workers with TRAIN and 12-hour work day bill

To commemorate the International Day for Decent Work today, workers led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno held a national day of protest to demand the junking of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act (TRAIN) and the Alternative Work Arrangement Bill (Senate Bill 1571) which they claim would kill workers with worsened precarious work.

“Exorbitant taxes and extended work hours kills workers. Duterte’s onslaught of anti-worker policies, which are now being railroaded in the Senate, will further press down our already meager wages and will subject us to slave-like work conditions,” Elmer “Ka Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson, said.

KMU claimed that workers have nothing to gain and everything to lose should both houses of Congress pass the Duterte administration’s tax reform package on today’s scheduled bicameral conference.

“Duterte’s TRAIN will rob us of our already meager wages by imposing new burdensome taxes on basic goods and services. Worse, it even aims to remove the tax exemption for minimum wage earners,” Labog said.

Meanwhile, the Senate is also set to pass the Senate Bill 1571 which aims to institutionalize flexible work schemes that would subject workers to more than 12-hours of daily work which violates their universal right to an 8-hour work day.

“Instead of heeding our demands for decent work, living wages and regular jobs, the government has been pushing for the legalization of flexible work schemes that would subject us to forced slave-labor. It would also result in wage cuts, massive lay-offs and workplace deaths and illnesses,” said Labog.

The KMU led national day of protest was held in key cities across the country. In Metro Manila, workers stormed the house of Senate in Pasay City while similar protests were held in Department of Labor and Employment regional offices and protest centers in Southern Tagalog, Central Luzon, Panay, Cebu, Negros, Davao, Caraga, General Santos and Cagayan de Oro.

“Duterte has already been murdering workers with his tyrannical and fascist rule. We will not allow him to kill more workers with his onslaught of US-dictated neoliberal economic policies. This administration could only expect bigger workers’ protest over his failed promises and intensifying attacks against our wages, jobs and rights,” Labog said.

Workers vow resistance vs Duterte’s tyranny and creeping dictatorship

Today, Filipino workers join the nation in protest against the Duterte regime’s tyranny and creeping Marcosian dictatorship. Forty five years after Marcos declared Martial Law, the horrors of his fascist authoritarian rule are being revived under Duterte’s wars against the people.

Duterte’s war against the poor must stop. Under the guise of his ruthless “war on drugs”, Duterte has murdered over 13,000 Filipinos with the sole aim of sowing terror among the people, especially the poor, to make us bow down in fear and succumb to his authoritarian rule.

This was evident in the murder of Francisco Guevarra, a unionist from the Gabay ng Unyon sa Telekomunikasyon ng mga Superbisor sa PLDT (GUTS-PLDT) and chairman of Barangay 106 in Caloocan. He was summarily executed last July 12, 2017 after refusing to subject his constituents to the PNP’s Oplan Tokhang as a political stand against the government’s anti-poor war on drugs.

Under the guidance of the United States government through its “war on terror”, Duterte has waged a war of suppression against workers, peasants, Moros, Lumads and the entire Filipino people. Duterte’s Martial Law in Mindanao and Oplan Kapayapaan in the entire country is his response towards the people’s growing outrage over his failed promises and continued implementation of anti-people policies.

Duterte has also used his tyrannical rule to impose his neoliberal economic policies that kills workers with worsening hunger and poverty by promoting cheap, contractual and oppressed labor.

He has legalized contractualization through the DOLE Order 174, adopted a wage cut-wage freeze scheme through the two tiered wage system, while his martial law against workers’ rights remains in place especially in special economic zones where no union-no strike policies are implemented. Duterte is also seeking to kill workers by forcing us to work for 12 hours with pressed-down wages through the impending institutionalization of flexible work arrangements such as the compressed work week scheme.

Duterte’s tyranny must end. Filipino workers vow to resist and defeat Duterte’s attempt to establish his Marcosian dictatorial rule. We will not allow him to impose his fascist dictatorship that would only allow him to freely implement more pro-US and pro-big business neoliberal economic policies. ###

P21 wage hike in NCR measly, insulting – KMU

Filipino workers are not jubilant over the measly and insulting 21 peso wage increase for workers in the National Capital Region. We are even enraged that the Duterte government through its, regional wage boards remain futile in addressing Filipino workers’ demands for a substantial wage hike.

Filipino workers have long been demanding for the implementation of a National Minimum Wage that would increase wages to P750 daily or P16,000 monthly not just in NCR but in the entire country.

Instead of heeding our demands, the Duterte government is insulting workers with a measly 21 peso increase that would even be futile amidst the unabated increases in the prices of basic goods and services.

Even with NCR wages increased to P512, it still does not come half of the Family Living Wage, or the amount needed by a family of six to survive, which has also already increased to P1,130 according to independent think-tank Ibon Foundation. Worse, wages in regions outside the NCR remain way below living standards especially in the Southern Tagalog region where the minimum wage only stand at a meager P235.

The Duterte government is mistaken if it thinks that this measly increase would pour cold water over Filipino workers’ growing outrage over his legalization of contractualization, railroading of a Compressed Work Week bill and gross violations of human rights under his tyrannical rule.

Workers, worse-off under Duterte’s martial law and legalized contractualization

On Duterte’s second State of the Nation Address, Filipino workers march with the people to take him to task for his failed promises and to condemn his US-backed authoritarian rule.

Poverty, hunger and oppression among workers have worsened under Duterte’s continued promotion of cheap, contractual and repressed labor. His economic policies remain subservient to the neoliberal dictates of the US and China.

Duterte failed to deliver his promise of ending contractualization. Instead of prohibiting contractual employment, the Department of Labor and Employment Order 174 even legitimized contractualization through labor contracting agencies. Instead of regularizing workers, the DO 174 has resulted in massive lay-offs and retrenchments of regular workers only to be re-hired as contractuals in agencies. Recent studies by independent think-tank IBON Foundation has cited that there are currently over 24.4 million contractual workers in the country.

Workers’ wages remain below living standards and fragmented in over a thousand wage levels. The lowest wage level, P235 in Region 4-B does not even meet a quarter of the estimated Family Living Wage which is now pegged at P1,130 as of June 2017. Worse, Duterte’s Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 has adopted the previous administration’s wage-cut and wage-freeze policy through the Two-tiered Wage System that would further press-down wages and freeze it to poverty levels.

The administration’s refusal to implement genuine land reform and national industrialization has worsened joblessness in the country. There are now over 11 million unemployed Filipinos. Meanwhile, over 5,700 migrant workers are leaving the country on a daily basis to look for jobs abroad.

In the face of growing discontent over his failed promises, Duterte has pushed for the extension, and is working towards the expansion of his martial law in Mindanao under the guise of the US’ war on terror. Duterte’s martial law is not aimed at combatting terrorism but instead is merely being used to curtail civil liberties and suppress workers’ and people’s legitimate demands and struggles. Martial law gave license to the violent dispersal of workers’ strikes in Mindanao and has served as a threat to other workers asserting their demands for regular jobs and living wages.

With the establishment of a US-backed Marcosian dictatorial rule, failure to deliver his promise of change and continued implementation of anti-worker, anti-people and anti-democratic policies, the Duterte regime deserves only the ire and condemnation of Filipino workers and people.

In Duterte’s succeeding years in power, Filipino workers will be ever more assertive of our demands to lift the martial law, for an end to all forms of contractualization, for the implementation of a national minimum wage, and for a national democratic change in the country. On the other hand, we are ever determined resist and fight the US-Duterte regime’s authoritarian rule and continued implementation of neoliberal attacks against workers and the people.

Martial law extension condemned, workers vow to fight Duterte’s authoritarian rule

Filipino workers strongly condemn the special joint congress session for voting in favor of the extension of President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao until December 31, 2017.

The overwhelming vote for martial law extension is baseless and is purely a showcase of political patronage.

There can be no legal nor moral basis to extend Duterte’s destruction of people’s lives and livelihood, curtailment of democratic rights and suppression of the people’s legitimate demands and struggles.

Duterte’s martial law is not aimed at combatting terrorism but has in fact sowed state-terrorism in the form of bombardment of civilian communities, forced evacuation of hundreds of thousands, dispersal of legitimate workers’ strikes, and gross atrocities and human rights violations.

The congress’ vote to extend Duterte’s martial law would pave way to the establishment of a US-backed authoritarian state administered by fascists, warmongers, peace saboteurs and human rights violators.

Filipino workers are ever determined to resist Duterte’s martial law and looming authoritarian rule. On Monday, Duterte’s second SONA, thousands of Filipino workers will march to Batasan to condemn the extension of martial law and assert our legitimate demands for a genuine national democratic change.

Martial law extension, possible expansion, is “all-out war” against the Filipino people – KMU

Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) denounces in strongest terms Pres. Duterte’s plan to extend martial law in Mindanao until the end of the year.

“Pres. Duterte has become putty in the hands of US puppets General Lorenzana, Esperon and Ano. Extending martial law will not bring forth just peace. Martial law will not stop atrocities by the AFP and the PNP. It will not put an end to the Marawi conflict. It will only further embolden and give license to state forces to suppress and oppress the masses. It will only set the stage for a wholesale violation of the people’s freedoms and democratic rights,” said Jerome Adonis, KMU secretary-general.

Adonis said that Duterte’s martial law should be exposed for what it truly is, an all-out war against the Filipino people.

“Duterte’s martial law in Mindanao has actually only further ignited the Moro people’s rebellion brought on by their decades-long struggle for self-determination. It has provoked the intensification of armed resistance of the Moro people in retaliation for the AFP’s indiscriminate aerial bombardments resulting in countless deaths and the destruction of Marawi City. Extending martial law will only prolong the agony of the people of Marawi and Mindanao,” Adonis said.

Martial law extension and its possible expansion will also further jeopardize the peace talks between the GRP and the National Democratoc Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

“Lorenzana has made it very clear that the CPP-NPA-NDF is their target as much as the Moro people. His ‘all-out war’ declaration in February has come into full force since martial law has been declared. Attacks against civilian communities have stepped up not only in Marawi but in the whole of Mindanao and other parts of Luzon and Visayas. Lumad people continue to be victims of extrajudicial killings, threats and harassments. Unionists and workers’ strikes have been violently dispersed and suppressed. Illegal arrests and killings of activists and human rights defenders are rampant. Duterte’s martial law in Mindanao or nationwide is an attack against the Filipino people,” Adonis said.

Adonis said that it is also no surprise that big businesses are backing up Duterte’s plan to extend martial law until the end of the year. “Through martial law, Duterte can exercise absolute power to push neoliberal economic policies to the delight of foreign businesses and local oligarchs. Privatization schemes, debt-ridden infrastracture projects, onerous tax reforms and exploitation of our labor and resources, these are all in Duterte’s economic agenda, to the detriment of the Filipino people.”

“Workers will be at the forefront of the Filipino people’s opposition to the extension of martial law in Mindanao and its possible expansion nationwide,” Adonis said.

KMU called on all Filipino workers and the people to join nationwide protests set on Duterte’s July 22 Congress special session, and the massive anti-martial law protest set on July 24, Duterte’s State of the Nation Address. ###