Fast track of agreement on socio-economic reforms welcomed

 

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National labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno welcomed the positive developments in the peace negotiations between the Government of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

 

“Workers are jubilant over the positive developments in the GPH-NDFP peace talks. We are hopeful that the efforts of both panels would pave the way in achieving the Filipino workers and people’s aspiration for a just and lasting peace.” KMU chairperson Elmer “Ka Bong” Labog said.

 

With just four days since the GPH-NDFP peace talks resumed, both negotiating panels have already agreed to draft an agreement on six substantial issues such as the  affirmation of previously signed agreements, reconstitution of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) list, acceleration of the peace negotiations, the mode of interim ceasefire, general amnesty for political prisoners, and the convening of the Joint Monitoring Committee of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

The KMU also welcomed both panels’ effort to complete the work on the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER) within six months.

 

“We welcome the GPH and NDFP’s commitment to forge an agreement on socio-economic reforms within six months. These reforms, particularly the genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization, would address the worsening poverty among workers and peasants which is the root of armed conflict in the country” Labog said.

 

Labog also urged the GPH and the NDFP to fast-track the work on addressing particular workers’ demands such as the junking of contractualization, implementation of a national minimum wage and respect for workers’ rights and welfare.

 

“We are also hopeful that the peace talks would address the most pressing issues and demands of Filipino workers. The lack of regular jobs, poverty wages, and gross violations of workers’ rights has resulted in social unrest in the country,” said Labog.

 

The labor center meanwhile demanded the House of Representatives to immediately act on passing a General Amnesty Law that would free the more than 500 political prisoners, among which are unionists and labor rights advocates.

 

“The release of all political prisoners is crucial in attaining peace that is based on justice. To prolong their incarceration is to deny them justice. The more than 500 unionists, labor rights advocates, farmers and social activists have been illegally and unjustly detained for standing-up of for workers’ and people’s rights and aspirations for genuine freedom, justice and change” Labog said.

 

 

Dismissal of LRT workers slammed

 

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National labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno led railroad and other industrial workers in a picket-protest at the Department of Transportation (DOTr) office in Ortigas to demand the reinstatement of the unjustly dismissed workers of the Light Rail Transit.

The Light Rail Manila Corporation dismissed 41 of its workers last June to make-up for the government-run company’s alleged losses due to unconfirmed ticket sales which is being managed by private concessionaire AF Payments Incorporated (AFPI).

“Workers should not be punished for the failures of LRT’s private contractors. It was the AFPI and not the workers who failed to deliver efficient service that has resulted in the losses of the LRT,” KMU secretary general Jerome Adonis said.

The KMU meanwhile urged DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade to order the LRTA to recall the unjust and blatantly anti-worker dismissal order.

“We call on secretary Tugade to recall the unjustly dismissed LRT workers. This would prove the DOTr’s commitment in bringing about the change that the Duterte administration has promised. For the longest time, workers’ rights to job security are being violated by such retrenchments to cut costs and boost capitalists’ profits” said Adonis.

The labor leader also insisted that the government should rescind all onerous contracts with private big businesses in the country’s railway system which has not only resulted in such unjust dismissals and violations of workers’ rights, but also to burdensome fare hikes and deterioration of services.

“Instead of retrenching workers to make-up for its losses, the LRTA should dismiss its contract with the sloppy and futile Ayala-Pangilinan run AFPI. These private concessionaires not only cause great losses for the LRT, but also burdens workers, commuters and the Filipino people” Adonis said.

Junking of pro-contractualization DO 18-A sought

 

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Over a thousand workers led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno trooped to the Department of Labor and Employment office to present the labor sector’s proposals on how to end contractualization in a protest-dialogue with Undersecretary Joel Maglunsod.

 

“We welcome the labor department’s efforts to minimize the rampant contractualization in the country. However, workers are pushing for more concrete and decisive measures that the DOLE can take to totally end all forms of contractual employment schemes,” said KMU chairperson Elmer “Ka Bong” Labog.

 

KMU particularly demanded the junking of the DOLE Department order 18-A series of 2011 which has institutionalized contractualization by setting guidelines that teaches employers how to circumvent labor laws and legalize their contractual employment schemes.

“The DO 18-A must be junked. It has institutionalized contractualization by teaching employers how to bend our laws and violate workers’ rights to legalize their contractual employment schemes. Since its implementation, contractualization has become more rampant and the number of temporary contractual workers drastically increased,” Labog said.

 

The labor leader claimed that since the implementation of the DO 18-A in 2011, contractualization has become more rampant citing independent think-tank IBON foundation estimates that four out of ten (43.5%) of rank-and-file workers are now hired under various contractual employment schemes.

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

“There must be no distinction between Labor-Only Contracting and Job Contracting. Both must be outlawed. All forms of contractual employment schemes denies workers’ their basic rights and tramples their dignity as human beings. Contractualization, whether employed in legal or illegal schemes, subject workers to worst forms of labor exploitation.” Labog stressed.

 

The labor leader also urged the Duterte administration to order the “super-majority” in Congress to certify as urgent the House Bill 556 or the Regular Employment Bill filed by Anakpawis Partylist that would amend the Labor Code and junk its Article 106-109 which has legalized contractualization.

The dialogue between Maglunsod and labor leaders also tackled other workers’ issues such as the implementation of a National Minimum Wage of P750, the urgent resolution of labor cases, junking of the Single Entry Approach (SEnA) policy and the restrictive requirements on Workers’ Organization and Development Program (WODP), and the repression and militarization of workers’ strikes.

“There are many issues that the administration and workers can work together with. But first the DOLE must distinguish itself from previous pro-capitalist administrations by promoting clear and concrete pro-worker policies. Once these policy are set, working together can easily follow.” Labog said.

NDFP consultant Adelberto Silva’s release hailed

 

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Filipino workers are jubilant over the release of National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace consultant and labor rights defender Adelberto Silva after more than a year of illegal detention.

We hope that the release of Silva and other NDFP consultants would pave way for an unhindered resumption of the long-stalled peace talks between the Philippine government and the NDFP.

We commend President Rodrigo Duterte’s efforts to fulfill his commitment of releasing all 22 detained NDFP peace consultants. We also welcome Duterte’s efforts to allow NDFP consultants to join the resumption of the formal talks set on August 22 to 27 in Oslo.

 

Silva and other labor rights defenders among the NDFP consultants play crucial roles in raising workers issues and struggles in the peace talks and in drafting agreements on socio-economic reforms that would address the roots of armed conflict in the country.

 

We are however we are indignant over PNP Custodial Center Warden Arnel Apud’s denial to facilitate the release of NDFP consultants and labor rights defenders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, amidst the release orders issued for them by respective local courts.

 

Adelberto Silva is a long-time labor leader and educator. He served as a staff member and speechwriter for the late KMU chairperson Rolando “Ka Lando” Olalia. In 1992, Silva acted as the education program coordinator for KMU. He is serving as KMU’s consultant on the peace process when he was arrested in June 1, 2015.

Marcos is a fascist dictator not a hero

 

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National labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno called on President Rodrigo Duterte to renounce his decision to give Ferdinand Marcos a hero’s burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani saying the late dictator was a murderer and a thief not a hero.

“Marcos is a murderer and a thief not a hero. We reject any plan to give a hero’s burial for the fascist dictator behind the mass murder of workers, peasants and activists and the massive plunder of the Filipino people’s taxes,” said KMU chairperson Elmer “Ka Bong” Labog.

Joining Martial Law victims and other sectoral organizations in a People’s Caravan against Marcos’ burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, the labor leader insisted that giving a hero’s burial for Marcos would be an injustice to the countless victims of extra-judicial killings and other human rights violations under his fascist dictatorial regime.

“A hero’s burial for Marcos would be an injustice to all victims of his fascist rule. If there is anything President Duterte should be busying himself with regarding the Marcoses, it should be giving justice to the victims of atrocities during Martial Law and the return of the Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth,” Labog said.

The labor center also claimed that burying Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani is a betrayal to the Filipino workers’ and people’s history and struggle for genuine democracy, freedom and social change.

“Hundreds of unionists and labor leaders have been killed for asserting workers’ rights during Martial Law. To claim that Marcos was a hero is to betray the real heroes and martyrs of the Filipino workers and people who gave sacrificed their lives in fighting for genuine democracy, freedom and social change in the country,” said Labog.

KMU meanwhile called on Filipino workers to oppose Marcos’ burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani saying to forego his crimes against workers and people now would give way to worse Marcosian fascist dictatorships in the future.

NDFP Consultants’ release on bail welcomed

 

consultantsWorkers welcome the granting of Motion for Release on Bail for NDFP consultants and labor rights defenders Adelberto Silva, Rafael Baylosis, and Benito and Wilma Tiamzon by the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 32. We hope that this would pave the way for their immediate release from unjust and illegal detention.

 

Their release would be a step forward in the resumption of the long-stalled peace talks between the government of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. The Tiamzons, Silva and Baylosis play crucial roles in drafting an agreement on socio-economic reforms that would address the roots of armed conflict in the country.

 

We are also hopeful that motions for release of the other NDFP consultants and labor rights defenders namely Renante Gamara and Ernesto Lorenzo be also granted immediately. The release of labor rights advocates among the NDFP consultants is vital in raising workers’ issues and demands in the peace talks which is set to resume on August 20.

 

However, we insist that the Tiamzons, Silva, Baylosis, Gamara, Lorenzo and other NDFP consultants and labor rights defenders are not criminals. They were illegally and unjustly detained for advocating and defending workers’ and people’s rights and aspirations for genuine development, freedom and peace.

 

The illegal and unjust detention of NDFP consultants also violates previously signed agreements between the GPH and the NDFP particularly the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHIHL) and the recently signed Oslo Joint Statement of June 15, 2016.

 

We demand that the trumped-up charges against NDFP consultants and labor rights defenders be junked and their release be deemed permanent. They have already suffered enough injustice inside prison cells for too long. We also demand the release of all political prisoners. Prolonging their incarceration is condoning injustice which violates FIlipino workers and people’s aspiration for peace based on justice.

Release of NDFP consultants vital to resumption of peace talks

 

DSC_0359The release of detained consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines is crucial in the resumption of the peace talks. It is not a mere precondition but an affirmation of the Philippine government’s commitment to pursue the long-stalled peace process by honoring previously signed agreements.

The incarceration of NDFP consultants is unjust. They are illegally detained under trumped-up charges and are being subjected to inhumane prison conditions. To prolong their detention is to condone injustice and defeats the Filipino workers and people’s aspirations for a peace that is based on justice.

The illegal and unjust detention of NDFP consultants violates previously signed agreements such as the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHIHL). The government peace panel also committed to release the 22 NDFP consultants and all political prisoners in the Oslo Joint Statement which was signed last June 15, 2016.

If the Duterte administration wants to prove its sincerity in achieving just and lasting peace, the least it could do is honor their commitments and signed agreements.

President Duterte must also stop issuing provocative statements and setting preconditions that could be used by warmongers in the Armed Forces of the Philippines to justify their brutal attack against civilian peasant and Lumad communities in the countryside.

Workers call on President Duterte to affirm his commitment to resume peace talks with the NDFP by honoring previously signed agreements and release the 22 illegally detained peace consultants, among which are unionists and labor rights advocates who play crucial roles in raising workers’ issues and demands in the peace negotiations.

We demand the immediate release of NDFP consultants Adelberto Silva, Renante Gamara, Ernesto Lorenzo and Benito and Wilma Tiamzon. We also demand the junking of trumped-up charges against NDFP consultant and former KMU vice chairperson for political and external affairs Rafael Baylosis.

Anti-contractualization tough talk needs tough action

Photo from http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/801882/rody-tells-firms-end-endo-or-close-shop
Photo from http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/801882/rody-tells-firms-end-endo-or-close-shop

National labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno urged President Rodrigo Duterte to present concrete policies that would end contractualization in the country following the President’s tough statements against employers practicing contractual employment schemes.

“We appreciate President Duterte’s firm commitment to end contractualization. But tough talk needs tough actions. The administration must have clear and concrete policies that would ban all contractual employment schemes and force capitalists to respect workers’ rights to regular jobs,” Jerome Adonis, KMU secretary general, said.

The KMU stressed that they already presented before Labor Undersecretary Joel Maglunsod the concrete and doable workers’ proposals to on how to curb contractualization which includes the junking of the DOLE Department Order 18-A and the ordering of the “super-majority” in Congress to certify as urgent the House Bill 556 or the Regular Employment Bill filed by Anakpawis Partylist that would amend the Labor Code and junk its Article 106-109.

“President Duterte should not worry that the government has not enough money or personnel to conduct inspections. Once he has set concrete policies and measures that would deem all contractualization schemes illegal, workers are ever willing to work with him in pin-pointing employers that would violate his orders” Adonis said.

The labor leader also urged Duterte to criminalize the practice of all contractual employment schemes claiming that like crimes and drugs, contractualization has become rampant in the country with four out of ten (43.5%) of rank-and-file workers are now hired under various contractual employment schemes.

“Contractualization is a crime that destroys the future of our workers and their families. It violates every basic workers rights, it demeans their dignity as human beings and subjects workers to the worst forms of exploitation” Adonis said.

“Capitalists who practice contractual employment schemes are profit addicts and should be heavily penalized. They abuse our workers blood, sweat and tears to get high on profits” he added.

The KMU meanwhile expressed their willingness to work with the Duterte administration in drafting policies that would totally end contractualization and other pro-worker measures that would promote regular jobs, living wages and uphold workers’ democratic rights.

Duterte’s SONA should tackle workers’ demands

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Duterte’s SONA: What workers want to hear

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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