Fare rollback should stop at P7.00

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The big-time rollback in global oil prices and even the meager rollbacks in domestic oil prices indeed deserve a rollback in jeepney fares. But unless a big-time rollback in domestic oil prices in the vicinity of P5.00 per liter is carried out, we believe that the rollback in the basic jeepney fares should stop at P7.00.

We should exercise compassion towards the country’s jeepney drivers. They are some of the hardest working Filipinos and are some of the hardest on cash. Before the latest rollback, most of the jeepney drivers in Metro Manila were taking home no more than P400 a day, below the P481 minimum wage in the region.

The rollback in jeepney fares is just crumbs compared with the effects of more important measures that the government should take in response to the big-time rollbacks in oil prices worldwide:

(1) It should order the Big 3 oil cartel to implement an even bigger price rollbacks. Studies show that they should have lowered their the per liter prices of diesel and gasoline by P8.00 and P15.00 respectively but have refused to do so until now.

(2) It should order a rollback in fares for the MRT and LRT, which depend on oil for their operation. The fact that MRT and LRT fares are unresponsive to oil prices exposes the layers upon layers of anomalous privatization contracts that are burdensome to all Filipinos.

(3) It should order a rollback in power and water rates. This is also another area where anomalous privatization contracts that are burdensome to Filipinos hinder service rates from being responsive to lower oil prices.

While domestic oil prices have been decreasing, vehicular traffic, especially in Metro Manila, has been getting worse. The unbearable traffic, which has been worsened by the Aquino government’s policies, is taking its toll on the earnings of jeepney drivers.

Si Aquino, ang kinakaya-kaya lagi ay ang mga drayber, manggagawa at maralita sa pagtatanggol sa interes ng malalaking kapitalista at haciendero (Aquino has always been thugging up on jeepney drivers, workers and the poor in defending the interests of big capitalists and landlords).

Labor conditions worse, DOLE lying

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The Department of Labor and Employment is lying in saying that labor conditions in the country have improved. The condition of  wages, employment, trade-union rights and workplace safety remain dire.

Even if the DOLE’s claims about more frequent labor inspections and faster resolution of labor cases are true, these have not significantly altered the prevalence of low wages, contractual employment, and violations of trade-union rights and Occupational Health and Safety Standards.

Even if the DOLE’s claims about summer employment programs for the youth and the availability of information on jobs in the Internet are true, these have not brought about a better employment condition in the country.

It appears that the DOLE made the fantastic claim that labor conditions have improved in the country in order to please the International Labor Organization, the Asian Development Bank, the Canadian government, and other funders of its programs.

The truth is that labor conditions have worsened in the past years. Funding from foreign governments and institutions can do little to improve the plight of Filipino workers, but they can at least be used to expose this plight. The DOLE’s failure to truthfully present the condition of workers indicates that funds may have been pocketed by its top officials.

Wages. Independent think-tank Ibon Foundation has said this month that the minimum wage was barely increased under Pres. Noynoy Aquino and that its gap with the Family Living Wage grew in recent years.

We ask the DOLE: What happened to companies’ compliance with the minimum wage? The October 2011 National Labor Force Survey showed that 46 percent of the country’s wage and salary workers were receiving wages below the minimum.

Contractualization. The DOLE itself has not updated data on contractualization and we have every reason to believe that contractuals now comprise the majority of workers, both in the private and public sectors.

Employment. In a July 2015 study, Ibon Foundation said that the country is experiencing the worst jobs crisis in history, with 4.3 million unemployed and 7.9 million underemployed.

Union busting. When workers try to form unions, they are massively retrenched. How many capitalists have the DOLE punished for this widespread crime? What has the DOLE done to render justice to the workers of Tanduay Distillers, Inc., Pentagon Steel Corporation, and other companies who faced violence in their picket lines?

Occupational Health and Safety. Even the DOLE’s inspection failed to prevent the death of more than 72 workers in the factory fire that gutted Kentex Manufacturing Corporation last May 13, 2015. The agency has so refused to aid victims in their quest for justice.

SSS execs failed to deceive the public – KMU

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Joining a gathering and a protest of advocates of a P2,000 across-the-board increase in Social Security System pensions at the Quezon City Sports Club this morning, national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno said that executives of the workers’ fund have failed to deceive the public into accepting current pension levels.

The labor group said the clamor for the pension hike continues to grow, as reflected in radio shows and in social media, and that more and more groups are expressing their eagerness to hold various activities to voice out the demand.

KMU said that in their presscon last Monday, SSS executives merely rehashed Pres. Noynoy Aquino’s arguments, which have been refuted, and served up new lies which were have also been refuted.

“The SSS executives failed to convince the public that the SSS cannot fund the P2,000 across-the-board pension hike. They only reaped the public’s anger with their arrogance and thinly-veiled lies,” said Roger Soluta, KMU vice-chairperson.

The labor leader said SSS commission representative for the general public Michael Alimurung’s claim that majority of the fund’s members are informal workers was refuted by data from the SSS which shows that more than 22 million out of its more than 30 million members are wage and salary workers.

He also said that Filipinos immediately sensed that Alimurung, together with SSS president and chief executive officer Emilio de Quiros Jr., were lying when they claimed that not all SSS members are poor.

“Last Monday’s press conference only highlighted just how palpak (inept) SSS executives really are. They were trying to come up with excuses to not raise the SSS pension and they failed miserably,” Soluta added.

KMU has repeatedly claimed that SSS has the funds for the increase, that it can still undertake measures to further increase the funds without increasing members’ premium contributions, and that the government can fund the pension hike in the future should SSS funds won’t suffice.

“There really is no excuse for not implementing the P2,000 across-the-board pension hike. Public anger will not subside until the Aquino government implements the said pension hike immediately,” Soluta stated.

KMU called on SSS pensioners, senior citizens, their families, workers and all Filipinos to join upcoming protests at the Batasang Pambansa, the SSS main office in East Avenue, Senate and Luneta.

Condemn Aquino’s scheme to sabotage P2,000 SSS pension hike

 

condemnFirst, Pres. Noynoy Aquino vetoed the P2,000 SSS pension hike. Then, his allies floated the possibility of an executive action on the issue – that is, for a mere P500-P1,000 pension hike. Yesterday, in a press conference, SSS executives floated the possibility of increasing members’ premium contributions to raise the funds needed for a pension hike.

 

Based on the foregoing, we have every reason to believe that the Aquino government wants SSS pensioners, senior citizens, their families, workers and the poor to accept current pension levels. Or they are conditioning the public to accept a meager pension hike that will fully be shouldered by SSS members through a premium hike.

 

The Aquino government’s scheme to sabotage the P2,000 SSS pension hike is most unacceptable to the Filipino workers and people. We warn Aquino that his government will continue to reap the anger and condemnation of workers and all Filipinos should he push through with this scheme. We warn him that he will end his term in further infamy and that his anointed candidates will lose if he carries out this scheme.

 

The truth is Aquino is not interested in extending the fund life of the SSS; he has in fact allowed SSS execs to collect less than 40% of what they should, he has not filed cases against delinquent employers, and pocket million in salaries and bonuses.

 

He only wants to preserve SSS funds for investments in big capitalist businesses such as the Philex Mining, PLDT, Union Bank, Security Bank, Metro Bank, First Philippine Holdings, Globe Telecom, Alliance Global, and Ayala Corp., among others. He also wants to preserve SSS funds for patronage to his appointees and for bureaucratic corruption. He is heartless because he is thoroughly anti-worker and pro-capitalist.

 

We are calling on all SSS pensioners, senior citizens, their families, workers and all Filipinos to intensify our struggle for a P2,000 SSS pension hike. Let us not be fooled by the lies and empty promises of the Aquino government. Let us continue joining protests and other activities and let us continue speaking up for our demand.

No compromise: P2,000 SSS pension hike pressed

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Amidst “compromise” proposals of a P500 or P1,000 hike in monthly Social Security System pensions, pensioners, senior citizens, their families, workers and other sectors of society again marched to Mendiola this morning to assert their original demand for a P2,000 hike.

The protestors led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno continued to condemn Pres. Noynoy Aquino for vetoing the proposal for a P2,000 pension hike four days ago, and demanded that the chief executive or Congress and the Senate do everything in their powers to carry out the said hike.

“Do we want a P500 or a P1,000 pension hike? We want a P2,000 pension hike. We are calling on Congress and the Senate to override Aquino’s veto. We are calling on Aquino to make an executive action. We will fight in every front so that pensioners will get a P2,000 hike,” said Roger Soluta, KMU vice-chairperson.

The labor leader said the compromise proposals are being floated by Aquino’s allies in an attempt to stem the public’s growing anger over Aquino’s veto of the proposed hike, which is being used by many sectors as a basis for calling for “zero votes” for Aquino’s anointed presidentiable Mar Roxas and vice-presidentiable Leni Robredo.

“We have to continue fighting for P2,000 pension hike. These promises are being dangled not because these politicians really care for pensioners and would-be pensioners. They fear that their cheating won’t become credible because calls for zero votes are getting louder,” Soluta added.

The protestors erected a huge image of Pres. Noynoy Aquino similar to images being circulated on Facebook and social media and repeated what they did in last Friday’s protest and pelted the image with rotten tomatoes and eggs.

“There is already so much anger and clamor coming from pensioners, senior citizens, their families and ordinary workers and Filipinos, and we are just starting. We vow to hold more and bigger protests in the coming days,” Soluta said.

KMU said they will troop to the House of Representatives in the afternoon to support Rep. Neri Colmenares, sponsor of the P2,000 SSS Pension Hike Bill, who is scheduled to make a privilege speech on the issue.

The labor group said it has plans of holding protests in front of SSS offices all over the country, of Senate and Congress, and in areas frequented by SSS pensioners and their families in the coming days.

Aquino, a ‘heartless liar’ in SSS pension hike veto – KMU

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One day after Pres. Noynoy Aquino vetoed a bill seeking a P2,000 across-the-board pension hike for Social Security System pensioners, workers led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno and other sectors of society marched to Mendiola to condemn the chief executive and continue to press for the demand.

The labor group, which pelted an image of Aquino and SSS president and CEO with eggs and rotten tomatoes, called the president and “heartless” for vetoing House Bill 5842 filed by Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares and a “liar” for claiming that the SSS cannot fund the pension hike.

“Pensioners, their families, the Filipino workers and people are angry over Aquino’s heartless veto of the SSS pension hike. Everyone who pushed for this measure and wanted it to be passed are indignant that he simply vetoed this form of immediate relief,” said Roger Soluta, KMU vice-chairperson.

The labor leader cited the study of independent labor NGO Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research saying the P56 billion annual total of the pension hike can be shouldered by the SSS, given the latter’s P160-billion annual revenue and P428-billion reserved investment funds.

“Aquino is trying to deceive the public by invoking numbers that try to show that the SSS would be rendered bankrupt by the pension hike. The truth is that the SSS has funds for the hike and that it can and must take various measures to increase its fund life,” Soluta added.

He said that the SSS should improve its collection efficiency which currently stands at 40 percent, penalize delinquent employers by filing charges against them, do away with the salaries and bonuses of its top officials amounting to millions, and reduce its overhead costs.

“We are calling on all SSS pensioners, their families, all workers and Filipinos, to make our clamor louder. Let us continue to speak up on social media, use pensioners and senior citizens’ activities to voice out our demands, and join protests and other activities for our demand,” Soluta stated.

Soluta called on the public to join another march to Mendiola on January 18, Monday, which will assemble at the intersection of Recto and Avenida avenues in Manila starting at 9:00 in the morning.

Veto of SSS Pension Hike #WalangPuso, hit by workers

walangpuso
We condemn Pres. Noynoy Aquino for vetoing the SSS pension hike. He has again shown that he is heartless (#WalangPuso) towards SSS pensioners, workers and all Filipinos. He has again shown that hardworking Filipinos are being run over by corruption, patronage and pro-business bias in his so-called Daang Matuwid (Straight Path).

Aquino’s excuse for vetoing the measure is a lie and a mere scare tactic. The SSS has the funds for the pension hike. The SSS can further extend its fund life by improving its collection efficiency, penalizing employers who fail to remit members’ contributions, doing away with huge bonuses for its board members, and reducing its administrative costs. The SSS’s collection efficiency is currently at the disgusting 40% level.

We are calling on all SSS pensioners, workers and Filipinos to express our disappointment, dismay, condemnation and anger over Aquino’s move. Let us maximize social media and join upcoming activities and protests to condemn the veto and to press this government to heed the clamor for a P2,000 across-the-board pension hike. Let us intensify our fight!

On Pulse Asia’s survey on Pinoys’ top concerns

pulse
Pulse Asia’s December 2015 survey regarding Filipinos’ top national concerns reflects the bad state of the economy at the end of Pres. Noynoy Aquino’s term. It belies this government’s claim of economic growth and shows that this government is a failure in improving the lives of workers and majority of Filipinos.

We call on top candidates running in the 2016 elections to heed workers and all Filipinos who are making their voice heard through the survey. We call on them to stand for higher wages, lower prices and decent jobs. The country will be able to create decent employment only through the implementation of the twin policies of land reform and national industrialization.

We call on workers and Filipinos to join the fight for higher wages, lower prices and decent jobs. While we can expect politicians to make pro-worker and pro-people promises during the elections, we cannot expect them to deliver our demands to our doorsteps. We have to fight for lower wages, higher prices and decent jobs.

The survey showed that Filipinos’ top priorities are the following: controlling inflation (45 percent), increasing workers’ wages (42 percent), reducing poverty (38 percent), and creating more jobs (34 percent).

Layoff of 44 flat glass workers hit

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National labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno condemned today the retrenchment of 44 workers in a Japanese-owned flat glass factory in Pasig City, claiming AGC Flat Glass Philippines is trying to bust the workers’ union which is fighting for the regularization of contractuals.

The labor group said that the company has already retrenched 37 workers before the start of negotiations for a Collective Bargaining Agreement in March 2015 and has refused to respond to the union’s proposals for the regularization of contractuals and for higher wages and benefits.

“We condemn AGC Flat Glass Philippines for committing a wholesale violation of workers’ rights. It has been illegally dismissing workers, trying to bust the workers’ union, refusing to actually bargain with workers, and preventing contractuals from being regularized,” said Jerome Adonis, KMU secretary-general.

The labor leader said AGC Flat Glass Philippines, which makes flat glass for homes and companies as well as solar panels, has also retrenched hundreds of long-standing contractuals after the start of negotiations for a CBA in order to thwart the unions’ drive to make them regulars.

“AGC Flat Glass Philippines has gotten away with long-term contractualization for decades. It wants to continue amassing huge profits at the expense of workers despite protests from workers and their supporters,” Adonis added.

When AGC Flat Glass Philippines started in the Philippines in 1985 with the name Asahi Flat Glass Philippines, all of its close to 1,000 workers were regulars and unionized. While the total workforce remains the same, the number of regulars has shrunk to a mere 150 at present.

“The fight against contractualization is a fight of all workers and all Filipinos. Contractualization is a whole-scale violation of workers’ rights that should be banned entirely,” said Adonis.

KMU has been calling for the banning of contractualization, including the scrapping of Department of Labor and Employment Order No. 18-A Series of 2011, of the Herrera Law, and the Labor Code of 1974.

The AGC Flat Glass Philippines management claims that the layoffs is a result of the closure of its Solar Panel Department but workers demand that the department’s workers be absorbed in other departments.

2016 bets dared: emulate ‘Ka Bel,’ stand for workers

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Workers and labor advocates celebrated Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran’s 83rd birthday today with a short program in front of the labor leader’s bust in Plaza Miranda, Manila in which they dared candidates for the 2016 elections to emulate his example of standing up for the country’s workers.

Led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno and labor NGO Crispin B. Beltran Resource Center, the attendees called on candidates to side with workers in demanding a significant wage hike, an end to contractual employment, safer workplaces, and the free exercise of trade-union rights.

“As a labor leader and party-list representative, Ka Bel lived a life of service to Filipino workers which should be emulated by all politicians. We challenge candidates to speak up for higher wages, regular employment, safer workplaces and free exercise of trade-union rights,” said Elmer “Ka Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.

The labor leader said that Beltran, as a former representative of partylist groups Bayan Muna and Anakpawis, consistently championed workers’ demand for a P125 across-the-board wage hike, an end to the regionalization of wages, the junking of contractualization, and a stop to union-busting drives.

“Workers and Filipinos need more people like Ka Bel in government. The country is in such a bad shape at present partly because people who are the opposite of what Ka Bel was, those who serve big capitalists over workers, are the ones occupying the top positions in government,” Labog added.

Workers from Planters Development Bank, AGC Flat Glass Philippines, Tanduay Distillers, Inc. and Kentex Manufacturing Inc. spoke up about their present struggles and aired their demands to politicians.

Some of the attendees, which included leaders of partylist groups Piston and Anakpawis, wore masks containing the labor leader’s face and held a streamer that read “Hamon sa Kandidato: Tularan si Ka Bel! Paglingkuran ang obrero! (Challenge to candidates: Be like Ka Bel! Stand up for workers!)”

“The great thing about Ka Bel as a labor leader and congressman is that he did not confine the workers’ struggles to the halls of Congress. He believed that advancing the rights and interests of workers entail the unity and collective action of workers themselves in their workplaces and communities,” Labog stated.

Labog said that Beltran dreamed of a Philippines led by workers and the toiling masses and achieving genuine development for the country through the twin policies of national industrialization and land reform.