100K– strong Labor Day rally demands ‘social justice package’ of living wages, regular jobs and free mass housing

On the first Labor Day under the Duterte administration, national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno led today’s nationwide protest of over 100,000 workers and urban to demand a “Social Justice Package” of a P750 national minimum wage (NMW), an end to all forms of contractualization and for free mass housing.

In Metro Manila – More than 50,000 workers and urban poor led by KMU and national urban poor alliance KADAMAY marched from Agham Road in Quezon City to the Liwasang Bonifacio in Manila. Before heading to the main protest at Liwasang Bonifacio, KMU affiliated Labor Federations and unions stormed the US Embassy in Manila to condemn the US’ imposition of neoliberal policies of cheap and contractual labor. Over 300 Lapanday farm workers of the Marbai (Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries) from Mindanao also joined today’s protests in Manila. The protest was culminated with a march and short program in Mendiola.

In Davao City –KMU also headed the 10,000-strong All Mindanao protest and delegation to the Labor Day Dialogue with President Rodrigo Duterte at the People’s Park in Davao. KMU vice-chairperson Lito Ustarez, together with Mindanao labor leaders presented before President Duterte the Workers’ and People’s Concrete Demands for a P750/daily and P16,000/monthly national minimum wage, end to contractualization, for free mass housing and other basic social services and for free land distribution.

Simultaneous protests of workers in their tens of thousands were also held in Baguio, Clark, Laguna, Albay, Masbate, Tacloban, Cebu, Iloilo, Aklan, Bacolod, Cagayan De Oro, Butuan, Surigao City and General Santos City.

KMU insisted that the P750 National minimum wage can and should be implemented. Data from Ibon Foundation showed that such an amount would only be a 30% decrease in the gross profit of the top 1000 corporations in the country. Small and medium enterprises have also claimed that workers’ wages only comprises 10% of their total production costs as they spend higher on high electricity rates, land rentals and exorbitant taxes.

While the top 1,000 corporations amassed over Php1.1 trillion in combined annual profits in 2016, workers’ wages remain below living standards as the P235 minimum wage in Region 4-B, the lowest of the over 1,000 wage levels in the country, does not even meet a quarter of the P1,119 suggested Family Living Wage.

KMU meanwhile posed their challenge before President Duterte to fulfill his commitment to end all forms of contractualization. DOLE’s Department order 174 does not end but legitimizes contractualization as the government’s employment policy. While we recognize the DOLE’s efforts to regularize 45,000 contractuals in 2017, there remains over 24.4 million contractual workers that should be regularized. Majority of these workers however are employed under job contracting schemes which, ironically, is being legitimized and deemed allowable by the DO 174.

The KMU led nationwide protest for the 131st International Labor Day also celebrated the centennial of the Great Socialist October Revolution in Russia that gave birth to the first worker-run socialist state in the world.

Today also marks the 37th anniversary of KMU which was founded in through a gathering of over 30,000 workers that filled the Araneta Coliseum on May 1st 1980 headed by its founding chairperson, the late great labor leader Felixberto “Ka Bert” Olalia.

On the Feb 27 dialogue with Duterte Workers’ unified position: end all forms of contractualization

National labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno is looking forward the scheduled dialogue with President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacañang on February 27 to assert the Filipino workers’ unified position and demand to end all forms of contractualization.

However, we strongly reject the Department of Labor and Employment’s twisted claim that the so-called “impasse” and “deadlock” on the issue of contractualization is due to the lack of unity among workers’ positions. Workers cannot be blamed for the DOLE’s apparent bias in favor of big businesses and labor contractors.

Filipino workers have long been united in our position that all forms of contractualization must end. Our unwavering unified demand have already been registered strongly during the October 17 Labor Summit and succeeding inter-island Labor Summits. Our concrete proposals and recommendations have also been presented before the DOLE. We have even drafted a proposed Department Order to replace the pro-contractualization DO 18-A series of 2011.

The impasse on the issue is precisely a result of the DOLE’s strong rejection of workers’ unified position. Secretary Silvestre Bello has devoted himself in upholding the “win-win” solution proposed by big business and labor contractors in connivance with the Department of Trade and Industry. He has since the beginning been pushing for further institutionalization and legalization of contractual employment schemes through his Department Order 168 which directly opposes workers’ position.

The labor dialogue with President Duterte will determine the direction of this administration’s commitment and promises towards ending contractualization. We stress that Filipino workers have only one resounding and unified demand: end all forms of contractualization!

HTI cover-up exposed, over 1,328 workers still unaccounted for

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National labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno today joined the Makabayan Bloc and the National Fact Finding Mission in a press conference at the House of Representatives to call for an immediate and independent probe on the apparent cover-up of the February 1 House Technology Industries tragedy in Cavite.

“We condemn the House Technology Industries, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority and the local government of Cavite for their attempt to cover-up what could be the worst workplace tragedy in history,” said KMU chairperson Elmer “Ka Bong” Labog.

The full report released by National Fact Finding Mission on the HTI tragedy held last February 2-5 revealed that at least 1,328 workers at HTI’s panel building remain unaccounted for and where over 582 are feared missing or dead. This data was based on the Department of Labor and Employment’s preliminary report on the HTI tragedy.

“We laud our pro-worker lawmakers in the MAKABAYAN Bloc for standing with workers in the search for truth and justice for HTI workers. We look forward that their resolution endorse the FFM results for a congressional probe would open doors towards holding the HTI, the PEZA, the Cavite LGU and even the DOLE accountable for the loss of workers’ lives,” Labog said.

KMU meanwhile slammed the Department of Labor and Employment for handling the HTI management with kid gloves amidst the apparent gross labor standards and occupational safety and health violations that caused the tragedy.

“Instead of holding the HTI accountable for the massive workers’ injuries and deaths, the DOLE has been handling them with kid gloves so as not to expose their own accountability for giving freedom to foreign big businesses, especially inside special economic zones, to siphon super profits by violating workers’ rights and welfare,” said Labog.

The labor center also claimed that the HTI tragedy puts into question one of the Duterte administration’s major economic policies of establishing more special economic zones to attract foreign investors and create an illusion of economic growth.

“The HTI tragedy highlights the worsening condition of workers under the government’s policy of promoting cheap, contractual, docile and precarious labor to attract foreign investors. This policy of offering workers’ lives to the altar of big business profits must stop,” said Labog.

The KMU called on Filipino workers to unite and join the fight for justice for HTI workers and all victims of workplace tragedies.

Duterte’s termination of peace talks rejected

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Filipino workers strongly reject President Rodrigo Duterte’s termination of the peace talks between the Government of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

Such termination of a generally productive and progressing peace negotiations only serve to benefit the US monopoly capitalists, foreign and local big businesses, landlords and warmongers in his cabinet and the Armed Forces of the Philippines who have long opposed Filipino workers and people’s aspiration for national and social liberation and for a just and lasting peace.

By terminating the peace talks, the Duterte administration has also terminated hopes of forging socio-economic reforms that would address the ever worsening poverty among Filipino workers and people which spawned the almost five decade long armed conflict in the country.

Filipino workers have always looked forward the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER) in high hopes that workers’ demands would be addressed, especially after the Duterte administration’s failure to fulfill its promise of ending the widespread contractualization in the country and in implementing a substantial wage hike through a National Minimum Wage.

We also reject the Duterte administration’s all-out war against the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army and the NDFP. History have proven that these fascists military campaigns only result in gross human rights violations against workers and peasants who are being targeted by brutal attacks by the AFP.

The collapse of both parties’ unilateral ceasefire declarations was a result of the AFP’s violation of its own ceasefire through continuous military offensives under the counter insurgency campaign Oplan Bayanihan. During the duration of the ceasefire, unionists have also been subjected to the AFP’s psywar operations highlighted by the threats and harassment of its operatives against Antonio “Ka Tony” Begornia, secretary general of the Alliance of Nationalists and Genuine Labor Organizations (ANGLO-KMU).

Duterte also failed to fulfill his promise and to comply with the GRP’s obligations to release the more than 400 political prisoners in compliance with the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). Among the political prisoners that Duterte failed to release are unionists who in the first place should have not been detained and persecuted for asserting workers’ rights and welfare.

We demand that Duterte reject the pressure from peace saboteurs, the US and fascists warmongers in his cabinet and AFP, and revoke his termination of the GRP-NDFP ceasefire.

Duterte should heed the Filipino workers’ and people’s clamor for just and lasting peace by showing utmost sincerity and political will in resuming the GRP-NDFP peace talks and in forging peace agreements that would address the roots of armed conflict in the country.

Workers demand release of labor rights defenders

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QUEZON CITY – National labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno demand the immediate release of labor rights defenders illegally arrested based on false charges. The detention of Roderick Mamuyac, 43 years old, alongside Jun Sinday, 55 years old and NDFP consultant Ariel Arbitrario was made at around 9:00 am yesterday in Sirawan, Toril, Davao City.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) denied in a statement that Mamuyac’s arrest was part of the recent presidential declaration to put NDF negotiators back in prison. Instead, they insist his alleged criminal culpability as the purported regional liaison officer of the Southern Mindanao Regional Committee of the New People’s Army (NPA).

KMU with its regional chapter in Southern Mindanao denounced AFP’s statement as erroneous and fabricated. Mamuyac is a long-standing trade union organizer of KMU Southern Mindanao and is not in any way connected with the NPA. The regional chapter confirmed that both Mamuyac and Sinday were tasked to accompany Arbitrario as the latter’s detail as KMU’s expression of support to the inclusion of the workers’ demands in the GPH-NFDP peace talks.

“We are strongly supporting the GPH-NFDP peace talks especially the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms that includes ending of all forms of contractualization and junking of the ‘provincial rates’ thru the implementation of a national minimum wage among the numerous list of workers and people’s demands,” stated KMU Chairperson Elmer “Ka Bong” Labog.

KMU is a member of the network Exodus for Justice and Peace (EJP) which facilitated Arbitrario after his release and has vigorously pushed for the resumption of talks and the freedom of all political prisoners.

“Arbitrario’s arrest, despite the non-existence of a formal notice of termination, is a desperate attempt of the AFP to sabotage the peace talks by taking advantage of the president’s hasty retorts,” he added.

KMU enjoins all workers and the Filipino people to demand the immediate release of Mamucay, Arbitrario and Sinday. It also called on President Duterte to take back his rash remark and genuinely support the socio-economic reforms that were being negotiated in the peace talks.

“We call on the president get back to his senses and respect previously signed agreements such as the JASIG and Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and International Law (CARHRIHL),” he said.

KMU challenged the president to veer away from the neoliberal dictates of the imperialist US-Trump and resolve the armed conflict in the country by ending landlessness, foreign socio-economic dependence, poverty, and injustice rather than be swayed by the pressure of the mercenaries in the AFP and capitalists.

Justice for HTI workers sought in nationwide protest

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Leading today’s nationwide protest against contractualization and for a national minimum wage, workers led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno stormed the Department of Labor and Employment to demand justice for the victims of the House Technology Industries (HTI) fire in Cavite.

“We demand justice for our fellow workers in HTI. The HTI management, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority and the Department of Labor and Employment must be held accountable for their disregard for workers’ health and safety that led to yet again another tragedy resulting in the injury of hundreds of workers and possible loss of lives,” said Elmer “Ka Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.

KMU demanded that there should be a thorough and independent investigation on the tragedy as they fear of a whitewash of the HTI and PEZA’s culpable violations of health and safety standards.

“There should be a swift investigation on the incident to avoid a whitewash of HTI and PEZA’s occupational health and safety standards violations. It is enraging that until now, the cause and actual number of casualties remain unclear to the public. A fire that resulted in the injury of hundreds of workers is not a mere accident. The HTI and PEZA should not go unpunished,” Labog said.

KMU along with other labor institutions held a fact finding mission at the Cavite Export Processing Zone yesterday and cited that most of the workers they interviewed were hesitant to speak for fear that they may not receive compensation from the Japanese firm.

Labog meanwhile claimed that the HTI tragedy highlights the gross exploitation of Filipino workers, especially in special economic zones, under the neoliberal economic policies promoted by the Duterte administration’s economic managers.

“Like majority of today’s workers, HTI workers are mostly contractuals, their wages are way below living standards and are deprived of their right to unionize and to collectively bargain. These are neoliberal attacks against workers that the Duterte administration failed to address. Worse, his economic managers are even promoting these gross anti-worker policies,” said Labog.

After their program at the DOLE, Workers marched to Mendiola to hold the Duterte administration accountable for its failure to address their legitimate demands to end contractualization and implement a national minimum wage of P750 a day for private sector workers and P16,000 for government employees. Similar protests were also held at DOLE regional offices in key cities across the country.

“In his first six months, Duterte has failed to fulfill his promise of ending contractualization. His DOLE even promotes and legitimizes this anti-worker practice through Secretary Bello’s DO 168. Duterte has also failed to heed our demands for a significant wage hike through a national minimum wage. The administration has been eager to increase taxes and the prices of basic goods and services but remains uncommitted to giving workers a substantial wage hike.” said Labog.

KMU meanwhile warned that the Duterte administration could expect bigger protests as it continues to fail in heeding workers’ legitimate demands for regular jobs and for a national minimum wage.

Justice for HTI Cavite fire victims!

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National labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno joins the Filipino people in seeking justice for the victims of the fire that broke out at the House Technology Industries (HTI) complex inside the Cavite Export Processing Zone.

The HTI management, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority and the Department of Labor and Employment must be held accountable for their disregard for workers’ health and safety that led to yet again another tragedy resulting in the injury of hundreds of workers and possible loss of lives.

The KMU, together with the Institute for Occupational Health and Safety for Development (IOHSAD), Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR), All Workers’ Unity and Gabriela Women’s Party, are now conducting a Fact Finding Mission at the CEPZ to gather data and look into the gross occupational health and safety standards violations that led to the tragedy.

As of this moment, we have confirmed that at least 104 workers were injured while unconfirmed ground reports also suggests of possible deaths as hundreds remain missing after being trapped inside the HTI complex.

We demand that there should be an immediate and thorough investigation on HTI’s violations on occupational safety and health standards especially with the fact that this is not the first time that a fire broke out at their compound.

We also demand the junking of the Republic Act 7916 or the “Special Economic Zones Act” that allows the establishment of special economic zones where foreign capitalists are given liberty to exploit workers and violate their rights and welfare to guarantee their profits.

The DOLE should also revoke its policy of voluntary labor standards inspection that allows capitalists to freely violate workers’ occupational health and safety standards.

The HTI tragedy highlights the gross exploitation of Filipino workers, especially in special economic zones, under the neoliberal economic policies. These policies has resulted in the further pressing down of workers’ wages through widespread contractualization, regionalization of wages and curtailment of workers’ rights to unionize, collective bargaining and occupational health and safety.

We challenge the Duterte administration to stand for justice for HTI fire victims and the Filipino workers. He should reject his economic managers’ promotion of anti-worker neoliberal policies that would only further result to worse tragedy against Filipino workers.

Bello told: End, not spread contractualization

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In a press conference today in Quezon City, national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno called on Labor Secretary Sylvestre Bello III to sign the labor sectors’ proposed department order as opposed to the current anti-worker policy drafted by the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE). The draft of the Department Order 168 is set to blatantly legalize contractualization of all types of job functions to third party service providers.

“DOLE’s DO 168 is the most dangerous anti-worker policy on contractualization yet. It will allow the contractualization of all jobs that directly violates President Duterte’s marching order and the Filipino peoples’ demand,” said Elmer “Ka Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.

The labor leader rejected the new DO’s policy of regularization through service providers calling it a cheap-trick to make capitalists’ violations of workers’ rights acceptable.

“Workers will not be fooled by the DOLE’s sugar-coating of contractualization’s gross labor rights violations. Their new DO precisely serves the objective of all contractual employment schemes which is to liberate principal employers from all obligations under permanent employer-employee relationships from which Philippine and international labor laws are based,” said Labog.

KMU also claimed that by ridding any employer-employee relationship between the principal employer and their workers, the DOLE’s new DO would pave way to further violations of workers’ rights.

“Not only would this policy result to more and more workers being hired through manpower agencies under legalized contractual employment schemes, it would even subject workers to worse labor rights violations as the absence of employer-employee relationship gives freedom to capitalists to siphon super profits through extreme labor exploitation,” Labog said.

The labor center meanwhile announced their plan to hold a series of protests to call for the junking of the DO 168 and to insist that President Duterte fulfill his promise to heed workers’ demand to end all forms of contractualization.
On February 3, KMU will launch a “Nationwide Protest” in all three major islands in the country. Thousands of workers are set to join the big mobilization in their respective key cities.

“We call on all Filipino workers to show their outrage against the DOLE’s betrayal of our demand for regular jobs. Let us unite and let our voices be heard until the DOLE junk its anti-worker DO and push president Duterte to heed our demand to end all forms of contractualization.” Labog said.

Admin’s economic agenda, rejected by workers at DOLE’s labor summit

 

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Attending today’s Labor Summit hosted by the Department of Labor and Employment, national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno expressed its rejection of the Duterte administration’s 10-point Socio-Economic Agenda saying it is detrimental to workers.

 

“The administration’s 10-point economic agenda is detrimental to Filipino workers. It’s main thrust is to assure super-profits for foreign and local big capitalists by undermining Filipino workers’ rights to regular jobs and living wages,” KMU chairperson Elmer “Bong” Labog said.

 

The KMU sees the administration’s economic agenda as the main reason behind the labor department’s recent rejection of the proposal for a P125 across-the-board wage hike and its lack of decisive measures towards ending contractualization.

 

“The people who are strongly opposing workers’ demands for a significant wage hike and the junking of contractualization are the same pro-contractualization and pro-cheap labor oligarchs who drafted the administration’s economic agenda. We believe that the main reason why the DOLE rejected proposals for a significant wage hike and why it failed to take concrete steps in ending contractualization is because these are against these 10 points.” said Labog.

 

KMU also claimed that the administration’s economic agenda beclouds President Duterte’s promise of change as it is a mere continuation of the previous administrations’ economic framework of promoting cheap, contractual and docile labor to guarantee the profits of foreign and local big businesses.

 

“Change may not come as promised if the current administration would continue its predecessors’ policies of undermining the rights and welfare of the Filipino workers and people to promote the interests of foreign and local big businesses. The framework of the administration’s economic agenda is the same framework that caused our workers’ current woes,” Labog said.

 

The labor leader also insisted that the agenda pushed by the administration’s economic managers and foreign big businesses directly negates the President’s assertion of an independent foreign policy.

 

“The administration’s economic managers are directly defying the President’s assertion of an independent foreign policy. The framework of the 10-point economic agenda is to remain subservient to neoliberal policies imposed by the US through onerous free trade agreements,” said Labog.

 

Meanwhile in a protest held outside the Labor Summit’s venue, leaders of various labor unions, people’s organizations and pro-labor institutions vowed to oppose any attempt to integrate the 10-point economic agenda on the administration’s labor policy.

 

“We will not allow these anti-worker agenda to be reflected in the DOLE’s labor policies. We challenge Secretary Bello to stand with workers against the big businesses asserting the 10-point agenda by heeding our demands to junk all contractualization schemes and implement a national minimum wage” Labog said.

 

The KMU also called on President Duterte to reject his economic manager’s 10-point agenda and instead adopt national industrialization and genuine land reform as his economic development program.

 

“We strongly urge President Duterte to junk his administration’s 10-point economic agenda. Instead, he must heed the 15-point people’s demands which have been presented to him in Malacanang on his first day in office. It states concrete proposals on how he can choose the path towards genuine, pro-people and self-reliant national development by adopting national industrialization and genuine land reform as his economic policy.” Labog said.

ECOP and NEDA’s connivance to reject P125 wage hike slammed

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National labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno strongly condemns the Employers’ Confederation of the Philippines and the National Economic Development Authority for conniving to reject workers’ demands for a significant wage hike.

 

The NEDA and ECOP are lying. A P125 across-the-board wage hike would only be a 12.3% deduction from capitalists’ profits. The 2013 Annual Survey of Philippine Business and Industry (ASPBI) of the Philippine Statistical Authority (PSA) indicates 1.58 trillion pesos in profits for some 35,000 firms with 3.9 million employees.

 

Even Micro, small and medium enterprises admit that wages are the least of their worries as labor costs only amounts to 10% of their total production costs. The high cost of electricity, poor infrastructure, red tape in the government and widespread smuggling and influx of cheap imports remain the major deterrents in businesses in the country.
It has also been a foregone conclusion that the P125 hike can be implemented. This was proven by its passage in the 13th Congress but with some sort of manipulation due to cited technicalities by then Congressman Crispin Remulla, the approved version of the P125 wage hike bill was remanded back to the lower house and held there till the lapse of the Congress session.

 

A P125 across-the-board wage hike has been long overdue and has in fact already fallen short to give immediate relief to workers. The gap between the mandated minimum wage and the family living wage, has drastically widened over the years. The highest wage level in the country, P481 in the NCR, does not even come half of the estimated P1,096 family living wage.

 

Workers are now demanding a significant wage hike through the implementation of a National Minimum Wage of 750 pesos. This would serve as an immediate relief to workers and their families amidst their worsening hunger and poverty. It would also counter the disparity of wages in the caused by the Wage Rationalization Law and bring the current minimum wage closer to the Family Living Wage.

 

A National Minimum Wage of P750 would only mean a 30% deduction in capitalists’ profits leaving them 70% of clean profits. NEDA and ECOP can no longer insist their age-old and absurd lies that such a hike would result in loss of jobs and increasing of prices.

 

NEDA’s position against wage hike is part of the administration’s 10-point economic agenda which undermines workers’ rights and welfare to further attract foreign investors. It is in direct defiance to President Rodrigo Duterte’s marching orders of implementing a national minimum wage and ending contractualization.

 

We urge DOLE Sec. Silvestre Bello III to stand by the President’s marching orders and reject these lapdogs of Wall Street. He should be more in favor to the workers’ interests to prove that changes are coming in Duterte regime.