[Statement] In Defense of the Right to Strike -CTUHR

In Defense of the Right to Strike
CTUHR Statement on the Global Day of Action in Defending Workers Right to Strike

The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights is one with the workers of the world today in defending the workers right to strike which is being attacked and denied by the Employers Group (EG) within the Committee of Application of Standards (CAS), International Labor Organization.

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Strike of Filipinas Palm Oil Plantation Inc. (FPPI) workers in 2012. Photo from mindanews.com

On June 2012, the Employers Group denied and challenged the right to strike in ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize. The EG claimed that the absence of any explicit reference to right to strike on the ILO C87 must be interpreted as without a right to strike. The challenge posed by the EG resulted in a deadlock on the discussions of cases in the CAS. While there was a move from the Workers Group in the ILO to seek advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice to settle the issue, this was blocked both by the EG and some Governments. A tripartite meeting to discuss this issue is set on 23-25 February 2015. (Read related article)

We condemn this outright attack of the Employers Group within the ILO to further undermine workers rights. The right to strike is essential to the exercise of freedom of association as the strike remains to be single most powerful weapon of workers in attaining justice against abusive and exploitative relations between workers and capitalists. There is no value in free associations of workers if their actions to protest are not recognized and/or rendered illegal. Removing the right to strike is thus tantamount to removing the right to freedom of association.

We are deeply concerned about possible ramifications of the removal the right to strike not only in resolving pending cases in the ILO but also in local workers struggles especially in countries where violations of ILO C87 are already rampant, if not legalized. In the Philippines for instance, although the Philippine Government has ratified ILO C87, the law on Assumption of Jurisdiction (AJ) that gives power to the Secretary of Labor to use police and/or military force to dismantle workers strike in industries deemed “indispensible to national interest” has been undermining workers right to strike and right to freely associate for many years. The use of force in imposing AJ orders has resulted in fatal and violent dispersal of legitimate workers strikes. Therefore, raising questions before the ILO on the right to strike as implicit to the ILO C87 can only embolden employers and governments alike to continue violating such right as well as to pursue national laws that will render workers strike illegal.

We call on the International Labor Organization to uphold the workers right to strike. To do otherwise is equivalent to ILO becoming an instrument of employers in worsening the condition of workers.

The onslaught of neoliberalism has taken away many hard-won rights of the working class. Now, more than ever, workers all over the world and all sectors in society must unite to prevent this yet another move of capitalists to take away another essential right from happening. To strike is a right and it is just. We must persist in defending our right to rebel to attain social justice.###
For reference: Daisy Arago, Executive Director, CTUHR +63.411.0256

18 February 2015

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