Workers’ assessment on the Duterte administration’s first year

Workers’ Demands:

  1. End all forms of contractualization!
  • Issue an Executive Order to regularize all workers employed in various contractualization schemes for more than 6 months.
  • Junk the DOLE Department Order 18-A series of 2011 that sets guidelines on how to make contractualization legal.
  • Prioritize the passage of the Regular Employment Bill filed by Anakpawis Partylist.
  • Amend the Labor Code by junking Article 106 and removing its distinction between the Labor­Only Contracting and Job Contracting.
  • Ban contractualization. Heavily penalize big foreign and local capitalists who implement contractualization.
  1. Implement a national minimum wage!
  • Enact a National Minimum Wage, P750 per day for private-sector workers and P16,000 monthly for government employees.
  • Abolish the country’s regional wage boards. This follows from the foregoing, and means the establishment of a national mechanism for setting wages.
  • Junk the Republic Act 6727 or the Wage Rationalization Law.
  • Stop using the poverty threshold as a way of setting the minimum wage and use a measure of the living wage for the latter.
  1. Stop trade union repression!
  • Free all detained labor rights defenders and junk trumped-up charges against them: Benito Tiamzon, Wilma Tiamzon, Adelberto Silva, Ernesto Lorenzo, Renante Gamara, Randy Vegas, Raul Camposano, Rene Boy Abiva and Virgilio Corpus.
  • Junk trumped-up charges against Rafael Baylosis, former vice-chairperson for external and political affairs of national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno.
  • Heavily penalize capitalists who illegally retrench workers who are trying to form their union.
  • Junk the power of the Labor Secretary to assume jurisdiction over labor disputes by amending the provisions of the Republic Act 6715.
  • Uphold the non-interference of police and military in labor disputes. Junk policies that sought to legalize such interference.
  1. Uphold workers’ rights and welfare
  • Immediately implement the long-delayed P2,000 hike in Social Security System pensions.
  • Grant tax exemption to workers earning less than P32,000 a month.
  • Heavily penalize capitalists who violate OHS Standards, especially if their violation results in the death of workers.
  • Attain justice for the workers of Kentex and other fatalities of industrial fires in the country.
  • Create decent jobs in the country by implementing national industrialization and land reform. End dependence on foreign investments in trying to create decent jobs in the country.
  • Junk the Labor Export Policy. Offer decent jobs and provide conditions for the return of Overseas Filipino Workers into the country.
  1. Support workers’ aspirations for a just and lasting peace!
  • Resume the peace talks between the Government of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
  • Free all political prisoners.
  • Honor all previously signed agreements.
  • Sign the agreements on Socio-Economic Reform to address the roots of armed conflict.

*These demands were presented before DOLE Usec. Joel Maglunsod during the Workers’ Summit last July 15, 2017 at the DOLE Occupational Safety and Health Center.

Duterte’s response

  1. On contractualization:
  • DOLE issued the Department Order 174 that “prohibits” labor only contracting but fully legitimized job contracting through labor contracting agencies as an employment policy.
  • Duterte asked the labor sector to submit KMU’s draft Executive Order that prohibits all forms of contractualization and appealed on workers to give the administration more time to address contractualization.
  • DOLE claimed to have regularized 70,000 “endo” workers in the past year. However, this claim remains unqualified as to where and how workers were regularized. This also remains a far cry from the estimated 24.4 million workers employed under various contractual employment schemes.
  • DOLE issued Department Order 162, suspending registration of new applicants as contractors and subcontractors under DO18-A. DO 162 may eradicate fly-by-night contractors and subcontractors, but at the same time strengthen the monopoly of big employment agencies in labor contracting.
  • DOLE issued Labor Advisory No. 10, which merely reiterates the provisions of the article 106-109 of the labor code that legalized contractualization by distinguishing labor-only contracting as illegal and job contracting as legal.
  • No scientific study/research on the prevalence of contractual employment has been initiated by the government.
  1. On implementing a national minimum wage:
  • There has been no significant wage hike under Duterte’s 1st year in office. On the other hand, the Family Living Wage has increased from P1,086 in 2016 to P1,119 in 2017.
  • Duterte has been consistent in wanting to par wages in provinces to wages in Metro Manila. Last July 2016, DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III also floated the administration’s plan to enact a national minimum wage law by October 2016. However, the government has taken no step towards addressing the demand for a national minimum wage.
  • The administration has adopted the Two-Tiered Wage System in its Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022 as a wage policy therefore upholding the wage freeze and wage cut policy of setting floor wages below the mandated minimum wage on the basis of poverty threshold.

 

  1. On trade union repression:
  • Detained labor rights defenders and junk trumped-up charges against them: Benito Tiamzon, Wilma Tiamzon, Adelberto Silva, Ernesto Lorenzo, Renante Gamara have been released through bail as part of the resumed peace talks between the NDFP and GRP. Randy Vegas and Raul Camposano were released through judicial proceedings while Rene Boy Abiva and Virgilio Corpuz remain illegally detained.
  • Lay-offs of workers forming unions remain rampant. This has been highlighted by the succeeding strikes and protests against illegal dismissals, union busting and for regularization of workers of Manila Cordage Company-Manco Synthetics Inc. (MCC-MSI) and Philippine Dong Yun Plate Making Corporation in Laguna, Soro-soro Ibaba Development Cooperative (SIDC) in Batangas, Freshmax Trading Company and Shin-Sun Tropical Fruit Corporation in Compostela Valley among others.
  • DOLE Sec. Bello has invoked the Republic Act 6715 and used his power to assume jurisdiction and suppress the legitimate strike of Delmonte Land Transport Bus Co. Inc. (DLTB) workers on January 2017.
  • Strike breaking and violent interference of state security forces on labor disputes continued under Duterte. Worse, his declaration of Martial Law last May 23 gave license to the violent repression of workers’ legitimate demands and struggles and the curtailment of civil liberties and of trade union and human rights highlighted by the brutal dispersal and arbitrary arrests of striking Shin Sun workers in Compostela Valley.

 

  1. On workers’ rights and welfare
  • Duterte approved a P1,000 peso increase on Social Security Service pensions, but at the same time also increased premium contributions. The next tier of P1,000 pension hike is set to be granted by 2020.
  • The Duterte administration has been pushing for a Tax Reform Program that would not only impose additional taxes upon workers but would also lift the tax exemption on minimum wage earners.
  • DOLE has recommended the suspension of the Occupational Safety and Health Standards certification of the House Technology Industries after concluding that the company violated OSH standards that has resulted in the fire that gutted their factory in Cavite and is feared to have resulted in the death of over 1,300 workers.
  • Justice remains elusive to Kentex workers and other victims of work related deaths in the country.
  • DOLE started training unionists and labor leaders nominated to be deputized as labor standards inspectors.

 

  1. On just and lasting peace
  • Duterte resumed the GRP-NDFP peace talks last August 2016. The talks have already reached the 4th However, the scheduled 5th round was cancelled due to the GRP’s preconditions.
  • Both panels have moved forward the discussions on the CASER and has reached unities on agrarian reform and rural development.
  • The GRP panel’s consistent been push for an interim bilateral ceasefire prior to the signing of CASER has remained a stumbling block on the advance of the negotiations.
  • Amidst Duterte’s commitment to pursue the peace talks, warmongers and peace saboteurs remain influential in the GRP’s position in the peace talks which serves as a dark cloud over our workers’ and people’s aspiration for just and lasting peace.

 

Conclusion:

Duterte’s first year in office can be summed-up as a year of worsening hunger and poverty among Filipino workers and people under the government’s  continued adherence to the neoliberal dogma of promoting cheap, flexible and repressed labor.

Workers have seen an extremely low productivity on the part of President Duterte in terms of fulfilling his pro-worker commitments and promises and in addressing the above mentioned workers’ demands which could have eased the impacts of the onslaught of neoliberal attacks on wages, jobs and national development on our workers’ and people’s conditions.

Duterte’s low productivity can be concluded as a manifestation of his prior refusal to break-away from the previous administrations’ economic policies, which he even recognized by saying “Bakit aayusin ang hindi sira?”. Duterte has also surrounded himself with and has been very much dependent on pro-US, pro-capitalists and known stalwarts and promoters of anti-worker neoliberal policies as his economic managers.

It is imperative for President Duterte to realize that his promise of “change” would be insignificant to workers and the Filipino people unless he veer away from the US’ and other imperialist powers’ neoliberal impositions. He should instead uphold genuine land reform and national industrialization as his economic and national development policy and promote the rights and welfare of Filipino workers and people against foreign and local oligarch exploitation.

KMU sees Duterte’s following years in office as years of continuing unity in addressing Filipino workers’ demands and struggle against his administration’s anti-worker neoliberal policies.

The next years also serves as a challenge to Filipino workers to further strengthen their ranks and arouse, organize and mobilize in their hundreds of thousands to assert their legitimate demands and struggle for genuine change, freedom and democracy.

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