Broadest labor groups unite against Duterte Regime, will march as one at #SONAgkaisa
Days after Manila Police attempted to thwart their State of the Labor Address (SOLA) in front of the DOLE, leaders and representatives of UNITED WORKERS – the broadest alliance of trade unions, federations, and labor centers in the country – announced in a virtual presser their unified action against the Duterte Regime in the upcoming #SONAgkaisa protest.
The group – composed of Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), NAGKAISA! Labor Coalition, and Pagkakaisa ng Uring Manggagawa (PAGGAWA) – vehemently condemed the adminstration for its anti-worker policies in the last 4 years, especially its failed response to the pandemic-induced health and economic crisis.
SONAtigl ang trabaho
United Workers underscored the lack of social protection programs to the millions rendered unemployed by the crisis as well as DOLE’s recent anti-worker issuances.
NAGKAISA! Chairperson and Federation of Free Workers (FFW) President Sonny Matula said: “We call on the DOLE to junk Department Order 213, which suspends labor inspections and legal proceedings that workers can avail of to protect their rights, and Labor Advisory 17, which encourages companies to reduce wages and benefits.”
“These policies unjustly favor employers over workers. It reflects the current administration’s disposition towards our country’s economic recovery, which prioritizes profits over the welfare of workers,” the labor lawyer continued.
SONAwala ang ayuda at suporta sa manggagawa
Among the speakers from the virtual presser were several unionists, each one expressing their deep disapproval of the administration’s handling of the crisis for workers.
JR Yulchiro Cruz of the ABS-CBN Rank and File Employee’s Union denounced the wanton lack of compassion that the government showed the more than 11,000 employees that will lose their jobs due to Congress’ non-renewal of the ABS-CBN franchise.
St. Luke’s Medical Center Employees Association President Jao Clumia rebuked the administration’s lack of support to our hospitals and medical frontliners. According to Clumia, the shortage of PPE’s, insufficient mass testing, and the necessity for paid leaves, hazard pay, free transportation, and stress debriefing for all medical workers are things that President Duterte can provide by decree but did not.
Piston President Mody Floranda expressed the deep frustration of jeepney drivers out of work due to the Government’s exploitation of the pandemic to ram through their anti-poor PUV modernization program.
SeJung Apparel Union President Jopay Odchimar, an ecozone worker, emphasized how the lockdown favored capitalists over workers. Their union’s picket-protest against their management’s union-busting (in the guise of a temporary shutdown) was dispersed by police using the lockdown as an excuse.
Ka Jhun Tulabot of the Coca-Cola Rank and File Union bared how the government’s policies emboldened employers to abuse workers, citing as an example their employer’s attempt to union-bust by accusing union officials of industrial sabotage by merely calling a meeting.
The group also decried the passage of the Terror Law and the expansion of contractualization schemes concomitant with mass lay-offs and retrenchments.
PAGGAWA and National Confederation of Labor (NCL) General-Secretary Ka Glecy Naquita stressed that Rodrigo Duterte only has himself to blame if workers decide to rely on themselves and resort to drastic actions such as “a general strike as an act of self-defense” in the last two years of his tenure as Philippine president.
The veteran labor activist said, “Workers’ rights and welfare are facing a genocide. A pandemic threatens our very lives. Millions are thrown out of work and face reduced wages due to job rotation and contractualization schemes. Hunger and destitution face a population that has been denied immediate relief, adequate health facilities, and mass testing. The terror law threatens the only protection for ordinary citizens against abuses of the rich and powerful – the rights to free speech, peacefully assembly, self-organization and lawful concerted actions. Now, with a senate bill (Tito Sotto’s SB No. 1515) that gets employers off the hook from any obligation to their COVID-infected employees, they are denying the basic right to occupational health and safety to our workers!”
SONAgkaisa laban kay Duterte
Kilusang Mayo Uno Chairperson Elmer Labog bared that the Anti-Terrorism Law will most likely trigger a massive wave of union-busting and give way to killings, illegal arrest and detention, harassment and threats, and criminalization of strikes.
Labog further called for the broadest unity possible among the ranks of the working class and the Filipino people to combat the tyranny and fascism of the Duterte Regime.
“Four years is more than enough! The workers and the people can no longer stand living under this oppressive and murderous regime. We must unite in order to reject this administration and bring about a brighter future for every Filipino,” he added.
The labor groups under United Workers will march together at the #SONAgkaisa protest actions on July 27.
Elmer Labog, KMU Chairperson
Julius Cainglet, Nagkaisa!
Leody de Guzman, Paggawa Spokesperson
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