Tag Archives: Center for Trade Union

[Press Release] Labor group condemns spate of harassment of unionists, labor activists -CTUHR

Labor group condemns spate of harassment of unionists, labor activists

The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights condemn the spate of harassment of trade unionists and activists by alleged military personnel beginning late April this year.

“We condemn the spate of harassment being done by the military on trade unionists and activists. We find this renewed harassment, red baiting and threatening of trade unions based in Metro Manila very alarming,” said Daisy Arago, Executive Director of CTUHR.

CTUHR logo

Over 20 cases of harassments and threats were experienced by leaders, members, organizers and staff of both public sector union, Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) and labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno.

Most recent was the case of a senior member and adviser of COURAGE and former director of Overseas Workers Welfare Association (OWWA), Antonieta Setias-Dizon, who was forced to seek refuge at the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) after persistent tailing by suspected military agents.

Arago also pointed out that the harassments are possibly meant to suppress intensifying campaigns for national minimum wage of labor groups in the country.

“Last November, unions from public and private sector forged unity and launched a strong campaign calling for a national minimum wage of P16,000 monthly or P640 daily. Mass walk-outs and protest actions were done by government employees and workers. By attacking trade unionists, the state and military is also trying to undermine this growing campaign and suppress legitimate demands of the working people,” Arago added.

CTUHR documented at least 82 cases of harassments, surveillance and threats to 884 trade unionists and labor activists alongside scores of other civil political rights violations including extrajudicial killings and malicious filing of trumped up charges against unionists in the last five years of President Aquino. Aquino’s counter insurgency program, Oplan Bayanihan aimed to quell critics and resistance to anti-people policies is behind these continuing and intensifying human rights violations against the people, according to the group.

Arago also finds the harassment of unionists coming from public government agencies linked to “controversial issues” rather suspicious. “Is it only by coincidence that some of the public sector union leaders harassed by the military come from national government agencies like as the NHA, DSWD, NFA, and the DOLE which are linked to controversial issues like allegations of corruption of the Yolanda rehabilitation projects, food and rice smuggling and negligence for the Kentex fire incident? Or are there other motives behind it?” Arago pointed out.

Arago also pressed the government to comply with international human rights obligations, “These actions taken by the military against the people clearly violate human rights conventions to which the Aquino government should be held accountable.”

“We support and unite with the unions and labor activists in fighting against union and political repression. On its final year in office, the Aquino administration has laid bare its anti-union and anti-worker character, we must ever be resolved and united in fighting for our just demands and political freedom,” Arago said.###

For reference: Daisy Arago, Executive Director, Center for Trade Union and Human Rights, +63.411.0256

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[Press Release] Labor group says Aquino’s policies deepen not combat poverty -CTUHR

Labor group says Aquino’s policies deepen not combat poverty

“Aquino’s policies like privatization of public utilities do not fight poverty but deepen it.”

CTUHR logo

This was labor and human rights group, Center for Trade Union and Human Rights reaction to a recent statement issued by Pres. Aquino saying that in line with Pope Francis’ calls, the government is already doing its job to combat poverty through the conditional cash transfer program.

The group said that Aquino seemed to have missed if not ignored Pope Francis’ message about striking inequalities, poverty and corruption which the Pontiff consistently emphasized during his 4-day visit to the Philippines.

“His Holiness did not speak of the past, but the present government when He said that ‘we need to transform social structures that perpetuate poverty.’ Yet, instead of recognizing this, Aquino took pride in combating poverty through the CCT program that is seeing an increase in budget even if it failed to make a dent in reducing the number of poor,” Daisy Arago, CTUHR executive director said

The group then slammed the Aquino government’s privatization of public utilities and services as highlighted by the water rate hike and MRT-LRT fare hikes just as everyone was preparing for the Papal visit.

“The government gives alms to the poor through CCT but cut their means to survive independently. Aquino’s privatization policies and Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program not only violate the people’s right to basic services and utilities, they dispossess them and buried them deeper into poverty. The recent fare hikes in MRT and LRT for instance, take the income of millions of working poor who depend on it for cheap transportation and millions more families will be forced to limit their water use as rate increases,” Arago explained.

LRT and MRT fares increased by 50 to 87 percent which means 400 to 900-peso addition to the monthly expenses of each worker who use the train to go to and from work. Similarly, water bills will increase monthly household expenses with the recent approval of Maynilad’s rate hike proposal.

The group said that while the working poor are made to bear these fare and rate hikes, big companies are left unscathed and are guaranteed more profits.

According to Bayan Muna, the MRT earned P2.2 billion in ticket sales and only spent P1.8 billion in operation expenses last year. LRT earned 2.5 billion but only spent 1.03 billion for operation expenses. The government is also reported to have allocated over P11 billion pesos for the maintenance, rehabilitation and subsidies of the train lines this 2015 that will mostly go to private operators.

The fare increase for MRT and LRT, according to the government, is not for railway system’s repair and rehabilitation but will go to private companies who operate the train lines as part of their guaranteed returns.

Moreover, private companies that distribute water in the Metro have seen increased profits. According to Ibon Foundation, Maynilad grew by 48 percent yearly 2007 to 2012 and Manila Water, by more than 15 percent in the same period.

“Throughout his term, Aquino has been pushing for policies that benefit only the rich by passing the burden to the poor majority. Perhaps, the challenge to fight poverty as posed by Pope Francis is not for the government to hear, but a call to the Filipino people to speak out, to reclaim our collective rights to basic services that are being taken away by big companies and a government that treat the poor not just unfairly, but a variable in the game of power and money,” Arago said.

For reference: Daisy Arago, Executive Director, Center for Trade Union and Human Rights, +63 916 248 4876 or +632 411 0256, pie.ctuhr@gmail.com

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[Press Release] Labor group condemns violence in dispersal of workers protest -CTUHR

Labor group condemns violence in dispersal of workers protest

CTUHR logoThe Center for Trade Union and Human Rights condemned the violence employed by members of the Quezon City Police District to stop the protest of some 129 workers of Pentagon Steel Corporation on April 15 in Bgy. Apolonio Samson, Quezon City.

“We condemn the violent dispersal of the [workers’] protest done by members of Quezon City police, eight of whom were even wearing civilian clothes, which led to injuries and arrest of several Pentagon workers,” said Arman Hernando, CTUHR coordinator for documentation.

Six workers of Pentagon Steel Corporation were arrested and detained while seven others were injured in a violent dispersal of workers protest on March 15 in front of the company gate in Bgy. Apolonio Samson, Quezon City. The dispersal was initially carried out by armed men in civilian clothes until members of the Quezon City police intervened to stop the protest.

Arrested and detained were Gilbert Garcia, 35, Jerry Mira, 47, Bautista Unggaya, 35, Arnel Pandungan, 38, Angelo Pandungan, 41, and Nestle Gabriel, 36. The six workers were charged with grave coercion and resistance and disobedience. The following day, 6 PM of April 16, they were released and charges against them were referred for further investigation as the policemen who arrested them violated the guidelines in conducting a warrantless arrest and because their cause for arrest rooted from a labor dispute.

“The police officers’ action in this case clearly violated the workers right to free assembly. It is only just that the arrested workers have been freed. But the policemen who harassed them should be held liable for their misdeeds,” Hernando averred.

According to Center for Trade Union and Human Rights report, 129 workers of Pentagon were peacefully having a protest action on April 15 when eight men in civilian clothes started pushing them away from the company gate. These men reportedly showed their pistols to the protesting workers and threatened to use their firearms if the workers push closer to the company gate. Workers were reportedly hit with metal handcuffs while others were electrocuted using a handheld electrocuting device. Moments later, policemen from three police vehicles intervened in the scuffle. But instead of preventing the armed men from harassing the workers, the policemen helped in breaking up the workers’ protest. In the inquest proceeding, the eight armed men who initially harassed the protesting workers turned out to be police officers from La Loma PNP.

Dispute with the management

The protest of the Pentagon workers started after 129 workers were unjustly dismissed following their protest action inside the factory on April 12. The following day, the workers who participated in the protest were not allowed to enter the company premises. This prompted the workers to hold a series of protest actions outside the factory calling for their reinstatement.

Earlier, six union members were suspended by the management on unclear grounds. The workers deem this act as “excessive” meant primarily to harass the union members who are not pro-management.

The workers of Pentagon are unionized under PTGWO-TUCP whose leadership has been exposed as pro-management in their local union election in 2010. A new set of union officers were elected which the management in connivance with the old union leadership prevented from taking power. From then on, the workers of Pentagon have consistently struggled for a more transparent collective bargaining agreement and better working conditions. Workers of Pentagon have long reported many cases of accidents in the workplace and absence of ventilation in the production site.

Stop undue dismissal

Hernando also conveyed unity with the workers demand to be brought back to work, “The management should settle the just demands of workers for a safer working environment, and a transparent CBA. It should also stop harassing union members who are fighting for the workers welfare.”

Hernando also expressed alarm over the growing number of unjust dismissal due to labor disputes. “This is not the first time that a case like this happened. Last year, another group of workers in PhilSteel in Laguna, were also dismissed after they protested their management’s violation of CBA.”

“The latest incident in Pentagon Steel Corp. shows how the government blatantly collaborates with the capitalists to ensure a ‘peaceful’ industrial climate at the detriment of workers’ rights. The environment for workers’ freedom is becoming worse despite the government’s claim that there is industrial peace. It appears that the kind of ‘peace’ being promoted by the government is unjust, and is actually opposed to workers rights and freedoms,” Hernando added. ###

The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights condemned the violence employed by members of the Quezon City Police District to stop the protest of some 129 workers of Pentagon Steel Corporation on April 15 in Bgy. Apolonio Samson, Quezon City.

“We condemn the violent dispersal of the [workers’] protest done by members of Quezon City police, eight of whom were even wearing civilian clothes, which led to injuries and arrest of several Pentagon workers,” said Arman Hernando, CTUHR coordinator for documentation.

Six workers of Pentagon Steel Corporation were arrested and detained while seven others were injured in a violent dispersal of workers protest on March 15 in front of the company gate in Bgy. Apolonio Samson, Quezon City. The dispersal was initially carried out by armed men in civilian clothes until members of the Quezon City police intervened to stop the protest.

Arrested and detained were Gilbert Garcia, 35, Jerry Mira, 47, Bautista Unggaya, 35, Arnel Pandungan, 38, Angelo Pandungan, 41, and Nestle Gabriel, 36. The six workers were charged with grave coercion and resistance and disobedience. The following day, 6 PM of April 16, they were released and charges against them were referred for further investigation as the policemen who arrested them violated the guidelines in conducting a warrantless arrest and because their cause for arrest rooted from a labor dispute.

“The police officers’ action in this case clearly violated the workers right to free assembly. It is only just that the arrested workers have been freed. But the policemen who harassed them should be held liable for their misdeeds,” Hernando averred.

According to Center for Trade Union and Human Rights report, 129 workers of Pentagon were peacefully having a protest action on April 15 when eight men in civilian clothes started pushing them away from the company gate. These men reportedly showed their pistols to the protesting workers and threatened to use their firearms if the workers push closer to the company gate. Workers were reportedly hit with metal handcuffs while others were electrocuted using a handheld electrocuting device. Moments later, policemen from three police vehicles intervened in the scuffle. But instead of preventing the armed men from harassing the workers, the policemen helped in breaking up the workers’ protest. In the inquest proceeding, the eight armed men who initially harassed the protesting workers turned out to be police officers from La Loma PNP.

Dispute with the management

The protest of the Pentagon workers started after 129 workers were unjustly dismissed following their protest action inside the factory on April 12. The following day, the workers who participated in the protest were not allowed to enter the company premises. This prompted the workers to hold a series of protest actions outside the factory calling for their reinstatement.

Earlier, six union members were suspended by the management on unclear grounds. The workers deem this act as “excessive” meant primarily to harass the union members who are not pro-management.

The workers of Pentagon are unionized under PTGWO-TUCP whose leadership has been exposed as pro-management in their local union election in 2010. A new set of union officers were elected which the management in connivance with the old union leadership prevented from taking power. From then on, the workers of Pentagon have consistently struggled for a more transparent collective bargaining agreement and better working conditions. Workers of Pentagon have long reported many cases of accidents in the workplace and absence of ventilation in the production site.

Stop undue dismissal

Hernando also conveyed unity with the workers demand to be brought back to work, “The management should settle the just demands of workers for a safer working environment, and a transparent CBA. It should also stop harassing union members who are fighting for the workers welfare.”

Hernando also expressed alarm over the growing number of unjust dismissal due to labor disputes. “This is not the first time that a case like this happened. Last year, another group of workers in PhilSteel in Laguna, were also dismissed after they protested their management’s violation of CBA.”

“The latest incident in Pentagon Steel Corp. shows how the government blatantly collaborates with the capitalists to ensure a ‘peaceful’ industrial climate at the detriment of workers’ rights. The environment for workers’ freedom is becoming worse despite the government’s claim that there is industrial peace. It appears that the kind of ‘peace’ being promoted by the government is unjust, and is actually opposed to workers rights and freedoms,” Hernando added.

RELEASE

17 April 2013

For reference: Arman Hernando, CTUHR Coordinator for Documentation, +632.411.0256

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[Press Release] NGO calls for justice for power plant accident victims -CTUHR

NGO calls for justice for power plant accident victims

CTUHR logoThe Center for Trade Union and Human Rights is calling for justice for five workers who died in an accident at the power plant of SPC Malaya Power Corporation (SPC Malaya) in Pililia, Rizal on February 3.

Center for Trade Union and Human Rights executive director Daisy Arago said, “There should be justice for the victims of this accident as well as other similar fatal accidents that happened in the workplace.” She added that what happened in Pililia is another case of “utter disregard by companies for occupational health and safety which resulted to workers’ deaths and injuries as in the case of Eton, Keppel, and septic tank workers in Cubao in previous times.”

On February 3, Sunday, five workers identified as Eduardo Fidel, Gregorio Ricalde, Roberto Mesias, Jeffrey Sinag, and Antonio Manguerra died while 12 others were injured after a 70-foot scaffolding collapsed. The workers were reportedly fixing the smokestack of SPC Malaya when suddenly the scaffolding they were using fell down.

Arago also pointed out, “the government hails the boom in construction and its contribution to the economy. On the other side however we witness these fatal accidents where workers die and their families are left with no breadwinner and are thus more impoverished. Surely, that is something the Aquino government cannot be proud of.”

“Worse, justice is ever elusive to the victims and their families. At best, the company would only give the families a few thousands of pesos and that’s it.”

Arago also noted that while it seems positive that the Department of Labor and Employment has suspended the operations of the SPC Malaya to give way to investigations, there is no guarantee that justice will be rendered. “They also did that to Eton and Keppel but what happened? Were these companies held criminally liable?” Arago added.

CTUHR’s documentation reveals that at least 4 workers die every month due to unsafe working conditions since 2011. In 2010, 35 percent of victims of work-related accidents (both fatal and non-fatal) come from the construction industry.

For reference: Jane Siwa, Public Information and Education, +632.411.0256

FOR IMMEDIATE RELASE
08 February 2012

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[From the web] Court increases bail for falsely charged workers – CTUHR.org

The Regional Trial Court in Morong, Rizal under Presiding Judge Sheila Marie A. Ignacio denied with finality the Motion for Reconsideration (MR) to not implement a bail increase for the twenty Karnation Industries workers falsely charged with serious illegal detention in 2007 after launching a strike against unfair labor practices committed by the company.

Citing the July 25-decision that there is “no congent reason to disturb the ruling embodied,” Judge Ignacio upheld the bail modification previously ordered by Judge Ma. Teresa Cruz-San Gabriel who inhibited from the case after she denied the MR of Karnation Industries to revoke the bail grant. Judge San Gabriel however increased the bail from P60,000 to P80,000.

Following the decision, Atty. Remigio Saladero, counsel of the Karnation 20, filed a petition to extend bail payment until end of December arguing that the workers not capable of paying the additional bail because of difficulty in finding secure and well-paying jobs. The motion was approved in October 10.

Added burden

Photo from CTUHR.org

Despite the extension, the workers continue to lament the added burden of posting extra bail. Having an unresolved criminal case has made been an obstacle for getting hired. Lucky are those among them who are admitted in construction projects which are not even regular jobs.

Some of them are also forced to accept jobs with very little pay. Polido Bagono or Boyet for instance, works as a security guard for a construction site for only P150 for staying almost 24 hours in the building.

The Karnation 20 were incarcerated for almost three years. Two of them died due to respiratory ailments inside prison. The bail granted by Judge San Gabriel after a series of campaign and appeal letters from labor rights groups and advocates was a major leap to the case. The remaining workers obtained temporary freedom after posting bail through a surety bond in 2010.

Call for support

Given the developments, Center for Trade Union and Human Rights intensified its call for support to the Karnation 20 and to appeal to the court to expedite the resolution of the case.

Norman Tubera, CTUHR program coordinator said, “The slow resolution of the case adds to the agony of the workers. Unless the criminal case is resolved the workers are cleared from charges, they will continue to have difficulties in finding decent jobs and will be forced to accept wages that are far below the minimum.”

Tubera also expressed worries that with the holidays approaching, sufficient money for the additional bail must be raised and be posted as soon as possible to prevent the workers from being arrested and taken back to prison.

“We are appealing to all our partners and friends and colleagues in the labor rights struggle to support the Karnation 20. Their predicament mirrors the worsening conditions of workers and relentless suppression of unions not only in the Philippines but in the entire world. Any positive result of this campaign advances our collective fight for rights and justice.”###