Tag Archives: DOLE

[Statement] NAGKAISA appreciates the DOLE’s efforts to provide aid to more than a million workers

NAGKAISA appreciates the DOLE’s efforts to provide aid to more than a million workers.

We, however, note that DOLE still failed to reach its target of 1.6 million workers.

Sadly, this target is way too low compared to at least 25 million workers affected by the pandemic, as estimated by the Ateneo Center for Economic Research and Development (ACERD).

We are also concerned that the amount provided by CAMP and TUPAD is just a fraction of what workers and their families needed to survive more than 6 weeks of lockdown.

We still assert that all affected workers should be provided income guarantees equivalent to the prevailing minimum wage, or P10,000 whichever is higher. This would help ensure that millions of workers will be able to somehow cope with the financial burdens that they incurred during the lockdown.

NAGKAISA also calls on Congress to incorporate in its stimulus package bill a provision that would subsidize, if not condone, all rent and utility costs of all workers affected by the ECQ.”

Press Statement
May 7, 2020
Ref. Atty. Sonny Matula
Nagkaisa Chairperson
FFW National President

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[Press Release] DOLE’S Closure of Assistance Program, Unjust, Irresponsible and Pointless -CTUHR

DOLE’S Closure of Assistance Program, Unjust, Irresponsible and Pointless

On April 15, 2020, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) announced that its COVID-19 Adjustment Measure Program (CAMP) is now closed for new applications. OIC Assistant Secretary Dominique Tutay said that this is to give way to the transition to the wage subsidy for a small business program of the Department of Finance.

The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights is strongly dismayed with this announcement. Since the lockdown was implemented, lots of families suffered from hunger as the promised assistance in the form of relief goods and cash aid comes slow or does not come at all. Displaced workers have been relying on DOLE’s P5,000 assistance for their families’ sustenance for the duration of the quarantine but have encountered numerous problems such as their employer’s non-compliance with the requirements, refusal of the company to apply, DOLE’s hotline that is not working, DOLE’s rejection of the company’s application and the slow and long process of the application with many workers not receiving anything even after a month of its implementation.

“This government is adding more harm than good to the workers and the poor, with their inconsistent and overly bureaucratic processes of giving the urgently needed aid. Why is the CAMP application being closed down when many workers are still in dire need of support? Why is the responsibility being transferred to the DOF who knows nothing about the workers’ situation? Instead of simply giving the promised assistance, this government is wasting precious time on its bureaucratic measures than providing urgently needed aid.” said Daisy Arago, CTUHR Executive Director.

The Labor Department estimates that around 1.6 million workers are affected by the lockdown due to COVID-19. It also reported that the CAMP has provided Php1.2 billion aid to 236,412 workers and is in the process of distributing aid to 85,563 more workers in the coming days. “We cannot fathom how they can afford to stop the assistance program when it has given aid to barely 15% of their conservative estimation. Providing assistance to displaced workers is under the mandate of DOLE. Transferring it to another department is simply unjust, irresponsible and pointless. Give the Php51 billion wage subsidy to DOLE and expedite the process of distributing the aid,” Arago added.

Arago also noted that the data of the Labor Department is conservative. According to the think-tank Ibon Foundation, the number of workers who may be affected by the Enhanced Community Quarantine, both from the formal and informal sectors is at 11 million. This is based on the 2018 labor survey force.

CAMP is one of the promised financial assistance programs of the Duterte Administration amid this COVID-19 pandemic through DOLE. Without economic activity, it is difficult for the workers to fend for their families’ needs. Thus, the P5,000 assistance from DOLE, insufficient as it may be, is a big help to meet the basic necessities of their families.

CTUHR also noted its continuous appeal to big companies to pay their workers despite work stoppage because of the enhanced community quarantine.

https://bit.ly/2XGifjp


CENTER FOR TRADE UNION AND HUMAN RIGHTS (CTUHR)
Public Information and Education Department
MEDIA STATEMENT
17 April 2020
Reference:
Daisy Arago
CTUHR Executive Director
Tel # 0999 195 3195 / 7718 00 26

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[Statement] Labor Rights NGO Forwards More Complaints and Concerns about the DOLE CAMP Assistance -CTUHR

Labor Rights NGO Forwards More Complaints and Concerns about the DOLE CAMP Assistance

As the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) marked its 1st month, 66 more companies were reported to have not still provided their employees with the P5,000 promised assistance from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). This was the results of the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) COVID-19 Workers’ Rights Watch” online survey on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis and ECQ to workers that started last April 1. The partial results were forwarded to DOLE for their immediate action.

“It has been a month since the lockdown was imposed and many workers are still complaining about not receiving the promised assistance from the government to No work-No Pay workers. The P5,000 financial assistance is insufficient to sustain an average workers’ family but it makes a big difference in their struggle if they will receive it immediately. Workers also await for additional assistance as the quarantine has been extended for another 2 weeks,” said Daisy Arago, CTUHR Executive Director.

The survey also covers other workers’ rights violations such as illegal termination, unsafe working conditions, forcing them to work (despite lack of transportation services provided), non-provision of PPE and others.

CTUHR also appealed to DOLE to issue clear guidelines that will strongly compel the responsibility of big corporations (those with more than 1,000 employees) to continuously pay the salaries of their workers in the duration of the lockdown. DOLE’s Department Order 209 or the Guidelines on the Adjustment Measures Program for Affected Workers due to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 prioritizes Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and only mentions that it encourages large companies to pay the full wages of their workers for the duration of the ECQ. It does not require them to do so. Workers and unions of big companies have been campaigning for paid quarantine amid the threats of COVID-19 and the lack of transport services, hazard pay and proper Personal Protective Equipment for those required to continue rendering their services.

DOLE issued an appeal anew to large companies to continue paying the salaries of their workers and employees despite them being unable to work due to the extension of ECQ. CTUHR welcomes this appeal and appreciates the companies who responded positively and echoes the call to Multi-National Companies (MNCs) to follow suit.

“These companies have been earning millions of profits for many years, from the blood and sweat of their workers. It wouldn’t cost them much if they will help their workers cope with this crisis. The Labor Department should oblige them to do so,” Arago noted.

DOLE also reported that the number of displaced workers in the formal sector according to their regional offices is now at 1,048,649.

“The current budget of the Labor Department to aid displaced workers is insufficient to assist more than a million displaced workers. Small local businesses must also be supported to withstand this crisis. More budget should be allotted to provide aid for those whose jobs and livelihood are affected by this crisis,” Arago ended.

MEDIA STATEMENT
15 April 2020

Reference:
Daisy Arago
CTUHR Executive Director
Tel # 0916 248 4876 / 8718 00 26

CENTER FOR TRADE UNION AND HUMAN RIGHTS (CTUHR)
Public Information and Education Department
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[Press Release] Labor enforcement reforms needed in wake of Paranaque construction accident -PM

Labor enforcement reforms needed in wake of Paranaque construction accident

The militant labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) called for stronger labor enforcement and labor inspection reforms in response to the accident at a construction site in Paranaque last Wednesday that claimed the life of one worker and injured 15. “Heads must roll and justice must be served for the needless deaths and injuries to construction workers,” insisted Wilson Fortaleza, PM spoksperson, as he predicted that more accidents are due to happen with the current real estate boom.

pmLogo1

PM lambasted employers for cutting corners in occupational safety in order to raise profits and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for the lax implementation of labor and safety standards. “While capitalists were scrimping on protection for workers and DOLE was sleeping on its job of enforcement, workers are dying in the workplace,” Fortaleza elaborated.

Ricardo “Boy” Marcaida, a construction worker who is acting president of the Samahan ng Manggagawa sa Komunidad (SMK) in Malabon, averred that “Accidents are not acts of divine providence that can be dismissed as unavoidable. Instead accidents are the result of unsafe acts and therefore preventable by strict enforcement of occupational safety and health and labor standards.” SMK is a legitimate labor organization registered with the DOLE which is affiliated to PM.

“Under the regime of the DOLE’s self-assessment program, the number of labor inspectors have shrunk from around 240 to less than 200 and the number of establishments inspected plummeted from 60,000 in 2003 to just 6,000 in 2010. Self-assessment means that the government is asking the wolf to guard the sheep. No wonder the sheep get slaughtered,” Marcaida criticized.

He recommended that “We propose that the DOLE deputize labor leaders as labor inspectors. In so doing the number of inspectors and inspections can be increase several fold overnight, enforcement can be strengthened immediately, and workers lives and limbs can be saved.”

Fortaleza added that “The DOLE has again been caught sleeping on the job. DOLE must review contractors and their principals for compliance not just with safety regulations but labor standards such as payment of minimum wages and benefits, observance of working hours and remittance of social security among others. Construction workers are among the most overworked yet underpaid of employees since they are generally unorganized.”

Press Release
October 5, 2013
Contact Wilson Fortaleza @ 09178233956
Partido ng Manggagawa Spokesperson

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[Press Release] Group calls on DOLE to promote decent work not just healthy living in BPOs -ICCAW

Group calls on DOLE to promote decent work not just healthy living in BPOs

ICCAW

A newly formed group of call center workers called on the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to promote decent work in BPO’s in the face of reports of violations of labor standards in the industry.

“We welcome the Labor and Health Departments’ campaign for healthy living among BPO workers. But we also call on the DOLE to uphold decent work among call center companies as e-sweatshops are proliferating in the industry. Sweatshop conditions not just stressful work are a problem of BPO employees,” said Sylvio Dorig, spokesperson of Inter-Call Center Association of Workers (ICCAW).

ICCAW is a DOLE-registered workers association for mutual aid and protection. Dorig issued the call as a group of call center workers complained of underpayment of wages and non-payment of benefits against their former employer. Six ex-employees of the Ortigas-based E-Global International Communications Inc. owned by Mr. Eugene Go filed cases at the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) last May 20 for violations of labor standards including illegal dismissal.

ICCAW is also supporting the fight of employees of Cordia Philippines, a call center based in Cebu City’s Asiatown I.T. Park. Earlier this year some 76 Cordia workers filed cases of illegal closure, non-payment of salaries and non-remittance of their mandated benefits at the Region 7 branch of the NLRC.

“We were paid only P200 a day for the five months that we worked at E-Global. Further we received no overtime pay, holiday pay, rest day premium, service incentive leave, 13th month pay and cost of living allowance,” averred Jiaffy Domingo, one of the E-Global call center agents. Aside from Domingo, the complainants are Janice Bicera, Rissa Joy R. Ricafrente, Maricel Gatoc, Bryan Dango and Walter Dango.

Yesterday several E-Global workers trooped to the Social Security System with the assistance of the Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) and verified that the company was not remitting deductions. A notice will be sent to E-Global to comply within a month’s time after which a case can then be filed against the company.

PM national chair Renato Magtubo averred that “A sunshine industry and dollar earning sector like the BPO should have no room for sweatshops. The DOLE must strictly regulate this fast growing industry in the interest of more than 600,000 workers since E-Global and Cordia are not the only BPO sweatshops around.”

In July last year, some 600 employees were laid off overnight when the Cebu City-based Direct Access abruptly shutdown. After a few months of protests, the Direct Access workers got their money claims and separation pay. As a result of that labor dispute, ICCAW was formed to be “a voice for BPO workers regarding specific grievances and general concerns.”

Press Release
May 30, 2013
Inter-Call Center Association of Workers (ICCAW)
Contact Sylvio Dorig Jr. @ 09432733079

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sign petiton2 smallPhoto by TFDP

[Press Release] DIGITEL Employees – to protest anew at different business offices Geared for hunger strike! -DEU

DIGITEL Employees – to protest anew at different business offices Geared for hunger strike!

kpd logoDIGITEL Employees are back at different DIGITEL Offices and exchanges on the first day or April to protest against the non-issuance of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Central Office of a writ of execution of the Supreme Court decision on their case and a restraining order on Digitel’s integration of operation with PLDT.

“We’ve waited long enough, and this is only what we got?” said Allan Licardo, Digitel Emplyees Union (DEU) President. “This is another station of the cross—additional to the 19 years of carrying the cross on our shoulder.” Licardo was referring to their fight for the right to self organization and to collective bargaining negotiation way back in 1994.

Licardo explained that DOLE’s decision granting the execution without a writ of execution will not do any good for the employees because it cannot force the DIGITEL management to obey the Supreme Court decision to bring the dismissed workers back to their work and start with the collective bargaining.

The simultaneous protests at different business units will last until tomorrow. If no positive result takes place, all members will go to Manila to reset up a protest center where some will stage a hunger strike.

Hunger Strike is our last recourse if DOLE and Court will not push the decision to fruition, especially with telecom giant Digitel/PLDT bent on choking the union to its death and mangling the law to unrecognizability. Our experience reveals that we have nowhere to go under the system, as concerned authorities merely wait and see until their decisions favorable to workers such as the SC decision last January 21,2013 are reduced to mere scraps of paper.” Licardo pointed out.

PLDT “bought” Digitel via shareholding swap then closed it, integrated its operation into PLDT’s, got rid of the regular employees who are union members to replace them with contractual workers. “If this is the meaning of Pinoy’s ‘tuwid na daan’, it means that he is encouraging his people to violate orders of the Supreme Court,” Licardo lamented.

“This (maneuver from the PLDT/DIGITEL) does not contravene labor rights guaranteed by the Constitution but it also violates the approved “sale”/shareholding-swap between Digitel and PLDT as approved by the National Telecommunication Commission. Lastly, this is a continuing violation by DIGITEL, a grievous violation after violations that can be considered criminal,” Licardo further explained.

“So our resolve is to undergo hunger strike to sacrifice ourselves to bring things in order. This is a bitter pill we are willing to take not only for ourselves but for the future generation,“ Licardo concluded”. ###
Member of Manggagawa para sa Kalayaan ng Bayan (MAKABAYAN)

DIGITEL EMPLOYEES UNION [DEU]

PRESS RELEASE
April 1, 2013
Reference: Allan Licardo – Union President, 09225375689

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[Press Release] Another palm oil harvester dies of electrocution -CTUHR

Another palm oil harvester dies of electrocution

CTUHR logoAnother harvester of the Filipinas Palm Oil Plantation Inc. (FPPI) died on March 23 a day after getting electrocuted while harvesting palm fruit bunches in Bgy. Bayugan 2, Agusan del Sur.

According to the statement of FPPI Workers’ Union (FPPWU), Cesar Muanag, 42, was harvesting palm fruits between 8 to 9 in the morning of March 22 when the long rod used for harvesting caught a live wire that electrocuted him. Muanag was immediately brought to Davao Medical Center. At noon of March 23, Muanag was declared dead.

Muanag worked for FPPI as a harvester for 12 years. Despite his length of service, he remained in casual status and was paid below the minimum wage. He also did not receive social security benefits such as SSS, PAG-IBIG and Philhealth and did not enjoy paid leaves and 13th month pay which are all provided in the law.

Muanag is the fifth FPPI worker to die of electrocution since November 2011 while four other survived similar accidents. The union said that the victims were all casual employees who worked between 2 to 12 years in the company. Because of their employment status, they reportedly did not receive just compensations even after catching an accident.

FPPI is a Filipino-Malaysian company that operates in Agusan del Sur, in Mindanao.

Armand Hernando, CTUHR coordinator for documentation said that FPPI should be made accountable for the death of Muagan and it must devise safety measures to avoid similar accidents. “Five workers have died in less than two years because of electrocution, both FPPI and the government must not wait for another worker to die and they must immediately act on this,” Hernando avered.

“More importantly, FPPI must be held liable for violating the workers’ right to security of tenure and other benefits. The company is practically depriving the workers of their rights even until their death. This is totally disturbing. FPPI’s massive and long term contractualization and disobedience to labor standards must be stopped.”

To date, there are still some 289 workers who are fighting for reinstatement in their work in FPPI after the company dismissed them following the ocular inspection conducted by the regional DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) in October of 2012. The ocular inspection confirmed FPPI’s non-implementation of labor standards such as minimum wage, social security among others. This issue prompted the union to hold a 62-day strike which only ended last January 2013 after the DOLE Secretary imposed an Assumption of Jurisdiction order forcing the striking workers to go back to work. (See related story.)

“We challenge the government to side with the workers and give justice to Muagan’s death and the other victims of accidents in FPPI. And this can only be achieved if FPPI is made to answer for its violations of workers’ basic rights and safety,” Hernando added.

RELEASE
26 March 2012

For reference: Arman Hernando, CTUHR Coordinator for Documentation, 02.411.0256

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[Campaign/Event] DIGITEL Employees put up a Protest Center in front of the DOLE Office

It’s a CAMP OUT!

Protest Continues:
DIGITEL Employees put up a Protest Center in front of the DOLE Office

DEU Workers small

After shaving their heads, members of the Digitel Employees Union (DEU) set up a protest center in front of the DOLE Office. The protest of the Digitel Workers will continue until the DOLE Secretary releases a Motion for Execution for the Supreme Court Decision last January 21, 2013 stating that DIGITEL (now under the PLDT Group) is guilty of unfair labor practice and telling the Digitel Management to reinstate all dismissed workers.

Last March 19, 2013, they filed a letter of Appeal in Malacanang for PNoy to look into their plight.

For more info, contact:
Allan Licardo – DEU President (09225375689)


Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya [KILUSAN]
#22-A Domingo Guevarra Street, Brgy. Highway Hills, Mandaluyong City 1550 Philippines
TeleFax: (632) 717 3262 Email: kpdpilipinas@gmail.com
Web: http://www.kpdpilipinas.com

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[Urgent Appeal] Hundreds of oil palm workers decry unjust dismissal -CTUHR

URGENT APPEAL
January 06, 2013

Hundreds of oil palm workers decry unjust dismissal; call for reinstatement, regularization, and implementation of labor standards

CTUHR logoThe Center for Trade Union and Human Rights is writing to you to seek your support for 293 of oil palm workers who were unjustly dismissed and were refused to go back to work following the lifting of strike last February 1 of nearly 1,000 workers of Filipinas Palmoil Plantations Inc. (FPPI).

These 293 workers were previously employed as casual employees in FPPI for as much as 30 years until an ocular inspection was conducted by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on October 23 as a result of the union’s long campaign against unjust working conditions in the plantation. The inspection’s initial findings released on October 25  confirmed the company’s massive violations of labor standards. In an apparent retaliatory move, the management dismissed one by one all workers interviewed by DOLE in their inspection except a few (11) who agreed to sign a waiver. This action of the management prompted the workers’ union to launch a strike on November 27, which lasted until January 31 nearly two weeks after the Secretary of Labor assumed jurisdiction over the strike.

Issues of long term contractualization, CBA violations and child labor also hound the oil palm company. Two months hence, the DOLE is still reluctant to hold the company liable for its clear violations of the law.

Case Summary Nearly 300 casual workers of FPPI are still jobless even after the return to work order of the DOLE following the Labor Secretary’s assumption of jurisdiction (AJ) of FPPI workers’ strike on January 18, 2013.

Workers of FPPI lifted their two-month battle on January 31, 2013 several days after DOLE Secretary assumed jurisdiction over the strike. However, FPPI management denied 293 workers of their work insisting that they do not know and have never hired these workers.

On November 27, 2012, nearly 1000 workers together with their families launched a strike on grounds of unfair labor practices of the FPPI management and unjust dismissal of 293 casual workers. These 293 workers were previously interviewed by representatives of the DOLE-Caraga during the October 23 ocular inspection. The findings released on October 25 confirmed the company’s massive violation of labor standards such as underpayment of wages and absence of social security insurance for workers.

Massive violation of labor standards and long term-contractualization

As early as April 2008, workers of FPPI led by FPP Workers’ Union, has urged the management to implement labor standards as most workers, especially those who have long been in casual status, receive wages below minimum rate (only PHP150.00 a day versus the legally mandated PHP248.00) and do not receive social security benefits such as SSS,  PhilHealth and PAG-IBIG. The union, since 2008, have been also calling for the regularization of at least 198 workers who remained casual employees despite having worked in the company for at least five years to as much as 30 years.

Their long fight finally resulted to an ocular inspection on October 23, 2012 conducted by the representatives from DOLE-Caraga. More than 200 workers were interviewed in the one-day inspection. And on October 25, DOLE-Caraga released its initial findings confirming the massive violations of labor standards by the FPPI. The findings also noted at least PHP 9,000,000.00 worth of money claims for the workers.

Unfair dismissal

However, instead of correcting their violations of the law, the FPPI management, questioned the findings, saying the inspection findings is flawed and that the workers interviewed were not workers of FPPI. Worse, the workers who were interviewed by DOLE-Caraga representatives were persuaded by the management to sign a waiver retracting their statements or they will be relieved from work. Those who will sign a waiver however can keep their jobs as casual employees and receive PHP 3,000.00. Only 11 workers signed the waiver, the rest who refused to sign were dismissed one by one by the management until on November 16, all workers interviewed were already dropped from the ranks of FPPI workforce. This issue, aside from other unfair labor practices of the company, prompted the union to hold a strike.

Moreover, dismissed workers are mostly agrarian reform beneficiaries (landowners) and are members of the cooperatives that lease land to FPPI. Part of the agreement between them and the management is to hire them as workers in the plantation.

Collective bargaining deadlock

Since 2008, FPPI management has also refused to give the workers the amount of wage hike they were asking during their collective negotiations. This issue plus the company’s refusal to implement the CBA benefits to 198 casual employees, in fact led to a previous strike of workers in 2010.

Late in 2011, FPPI Workers’ Union (FPPIWU) filed a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) which the management refused to acknowledge saying that their CBA has expired since five years have lapsed. Consequently, a certification election was held on March 17, 2012; FPPIWU won the union election and the union followed up their previous CBA. On May 8, 2012 sitting, the company did not provide a written counterproposal. Between June to August, a series of negotiations ensued between FPPIWU and the management. The management offered a meager 2-2-3 (in pesos or US$0.05, 0.05, 0.07)) staggered daily wage hike for the next three years which is way below the union’s 100-125-150 (in pesos) proposal. In August, the company, slightly raised its offer to PHP 3-3-4 but the union finds this unacceptable given the high profits of company. On September 17, a CBA deadlock was officially declared.

Harassment of union members

On Oct. 4, 2012, Rexon Generol, a member of FPPIWU spoke  in the Manila launch of CTUHR’s research on child labor and workers’ situation in oil palm plantation in Caraga (The book is entitled Children of Sunshine Industry). Generol gave a testimony about their dire working conditions as a result of long term contractualization which he experienced personally. Generol started working for FFPI  when he was 14 years old and have been working there  for 27 years, yet he remains in casual status receiving wages below the minimum rate, no social security and no benefits given to regular employees (such as rice allowance plus other bonuses).

Generol was wary that when he comes back to Agusan del Sur, he might lose his job after exposing to the public their conditions in FPPI. And true enough, when he was about to work on October 8, he found out that he was already dismissed.

Intimidation while on strike

While on strike, workers continue to experience intimidation and heated confrontations from members of Special Citizen Active Auxiliary (SCAA) and the company’s security personnel.

On December 13, around 10 PM, workers were alarmed when they heard from behind their post, six shots (two shots from a triangle, one from a pistol and three shots from an M-14). They learned that the shots were fired by members of the SCAA whose post is just a few meters away from the picket line. Workers suspect that the shots were aimed at creating fear among strikers as SCAA members laughed and made fun of the incident afterwards.

On January 12, 2013, the strikers were threatened (by the management) that they will be charged with company bankruptcy because of the strike. Through the SCAA and Agency Security Group (FPPI’s security guard), workers were persuaded to sign a waiver that they will no longer join the strike and will go back to work. Only siix workers signed the waiver.

Two days after, on Jan. 14, an argument between the strikers and the guards ensued when the workers blocked the supervisors and managers from entering the plantation premises. To avoid future conflict, the strikers have previously drafted an agreement with the SCAA and the ASG that no personnel of the company will be allowed to enter the premises while the strike is still on. SCAA and ASG however declined to sign the agreement.

During the heated exchange, security forces of the company (identified as Limyado, Awitan, Sakal and Dondi Carbin) cocked their guns at Mr. Jowarh Quita, a staff of the union, while the latter was taking a video footage of the said confrontation. The guards were insisting that a newly-built “boom” by the workers be removed. The “boom” was installed by the workers to block the passages of those who would be working while there is still a strike.

Misleading dialogues and unfruitful negotiations
Since the strike started on November 27, the union has been always open to negotiations with the company and the government. In several occasions, the FPPI management has postponed their scheduled negotiations, while the government remains lukewarm in holding the company liable for its violations of labor standards.

Union officials lament that instead of settling the issue, the government is setting up meetings that divert the issue and threaten the striking workers. On December 7 for instance, the government called for an inter-agency dialogue with the strikers. Representatives from the DOLE, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the local government unit (LGU) were present in the dialogue. The union representative noted that the DOLE representative asked the workers if they can “lift ” the strike for the spirit of Christmas, but said nothing about the workers demands.. DSWD as well as the LGU expressed concern over the children of workers who are staying in the picket line.

Several talks between company officials, the union, and the DOLE happened but were not fruitful. The first was on Dec. 21, nearly a month after the strike started followed by another on Dec 30, Jan 7, and 9. While the union went as far as lowering their demands from implementing the labor standards to reinstating casual employees unnjustly dismissed, the company however denied having hired, or had known the 293 workers it terminated following DOLE’s ocular inspection on October 23. As for the negotiated wage hike, the company, stood firm in its offer of Php 3-Php3-Php 4 daily wage hike for the next three years.

On January 18, the Department of Labor and Employment assumed jurisdiction (AJ) over  the strike and ordered all workers to go back to their work. The workers were wary  that the AJ order may later cause violence as in other cases of violent dispersal of strikes.

On two negotiations in Manila on January 24 and 28 this year, workers’ demands were hardly settled. Even if the strike has been lifted, they are still struggling for the reinstatement of the 293 casual workers, their eventual regularization.

The labor law (Article 280 of the Labor Code) is clear that contract or even seasonal workers will be considered regular or permanent if they work for a company for a one year, even if the employment is intermittent. Repeated renewal of contract, much more years of employment proves that the work being done by those  considered ‘casual’ by the company is necessary and desirable i.e production will be severely affected if they those workers are removed from work  The 293 casual workerss at FPPI are mostly harvesters, without them, there will be no fruits to grind and no oil to sell.

The discrimination and rights violations of 293 workers are clear, they were not only deprived of monetary and welfare benefits due to regular workers and union members, they were deprived of their right to security of tenure and their basic right to life as they were thrown to living in dire situation. Their children are forced to work in the field for family survival. More importantly, their dismissals after testimony to a government inspection must be accorded with protection against retaliatory acts by employer; lest injustice will continue to be committed against these workers, and trust on the administration of justice weill continue to be questioned.

Background of the company

Filipinas Palm Oil Plantations Inc. was established in 1980 in the municipality of Rosario in Agusan del Sur. It is 60 percent-owned by a Filipino and 40 percent Indonesian. It covers 8,000 hectares of oil palm plantations in San Francisco and Rosario Agusan del Sur. Government estimates its average production to as much as 40 metric tons of fresh fruit bunch of oil palm per hour and used to export its products to the US, Japan, Malaysia and Europe in the 1990s. To date, local consumption for palm oil has increased and FPPI is a supplier for known food companies namely Monde Nissin Corporation, Nissin Corporation, Wyeth Philippines, Universal Robina Corporation, Ecco Food Corporation, and Magnolia Corporation.

Workers computation of companies minimum gross earnings per hectare of land per month is equivalent to PHP 22,080.00. Ratio of worker to hectare is 1:4; land rent per hectare per month  a measly PHP 166.00 under the existing lease agreement between the agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) who lease out the land to FPPI through cooperatives.

Action Needed:

In support of the dismissed workers in FPPI, please write to the authorities imploring them to:

1) Immediately bring back to work the 293 unjustly dismissed workers of FPPI, promote them into regular status as provided by law, and accord them with rights and benefits due them;

2) Hold FPPI liable for its massive violation of labor standards and regularize all workers who have been working in the company for at least one year, and implement all provisions of the collective bargaining agreement to  all workers, without discrimination, thus, reducing incidence of child labor in the plantation;

3) Stop all forms of harassments, threats and intimidation  against all workers and their family members who joined the strike;

3) For the Department of Labor and Employment to uphold its Department’s findings on the October 23 ocular inspection that verified massive labor standards violations of FPPI;  hold the FPPI management liable to the all workers especially those who have been unjustly dismissed.

4) For DOLE and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), to institute mechanisms and provide protection against any retaliatory actions, and provide assistance to all workers and/or trade unionists who come out to testify and speak about their situation.

5) For President Benigno Aquino III and its economic managers to investigate the condition of palm oil workers and communities, effectively address the problem of child labor and poverty of affected communities’  before any expansion of oil palm plantation is pursued.

Please send your letters to the following:

H.E. Benigno C. Aquino III
President of the Republic
Malacañang Palace,
JP Laurel St., San Miguel
Manila Philippines
Voice: (+632) 564 1451 to 80
Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968
E-mail: corres@op.gov.ph / opnet@ops.gov.ph

Hon. Loretta Ann P. Rosales
Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., UP Complex
Commonwealth Avenue
Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
Voice: (+632) 928-5655, 926-6188
Fax: (+632) 929 0102
Email: chair.rosales.chr@gmail.com, lorettann@gmail.com

Hon. Rosalinda Dimapilid Baldoz
Secretary, Department of Labor and Employment
7th Floor DOLE Bldg., Intramuros,
Fax no.: (632) 336-8182
Email: secrdb@dole.gov.ph

S.K. Tan
General Manager
Filipinas Palm Plantations Inc
7/F Citibank Center
8741 Paseo de Roxas, Makati City
Tel: +6328127541
Fax: +632.817.5753

Dennis Villareal
President
Filipinas Palm Plantations Inc
7/F Citibank Center
8741 Paseo de Roxas, Makati City
Telephone: +632 8127541-46
Email:  denn.villa@gmail.com

Please send us a copy of your email/mail/fax to the above-named government officials, to us:  email pie.ctuhr@gmail.com; telefax (02) 411-0256.

Thank you very much for your support.

Center for Trade Union and Human Rights
ctuhr.org

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 urges government to amend laws on OHS, contractualization -CTUHR

Labor group urges government to amend laws on OHS, contractualization

Following the death of four septic tank workers in Ali Mall Quezon City last Thursday, August 30, the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) urged the government to amend laws concerning occupational health and safety (OHS) standards and labor contractualization.

Daisy Arago, executive director of CTUHR said, “Apart from a thorough investigation of the case, this incident calls for a review and amendment of our laws concerning OHS standards and labor contractualization.”

According to Arago, although Rule 11-20 of the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) OHS Standards stipulates the employers should provide PPE’s or personal protective equipment to workers in hazardous workplaces, the law is mum on the employers’ accountability to the law and the victims when accidents occur.

“Rule 11-20 only identifies what are considered hazardous workplaces and states that employers should provide PPEs to their workers involved in these areas…but what must be done to those employers that are found guilty of not complying with the OHS standards?” Arago stressed.

“Especially in cases where work-related accidents lead to death, it is not enough that employers are only made to burden funeral expenses or give the families of victims some thousands of pesos as consolation for their loved ones’ death. Ultimately, employers must face administrative, civil and even criminal liability to bring full justice to the victims,” Arago said.

Arago further explained that clear sanctions will give teeth to the law and could somehow deter future accidents due to negligence and non-compliance to OHS standards by companies.

On August 30, around 3:30 am, Marvin Aleman and Romy, Rodel, and Romel Suarez drowned while they were finishing their work in a septic tank in Ali Mall. Investigation of the local government of Quezon City points to RCBC plumbing services, the job contractor, as solely responsible for the death of the workers.

Meanwhile, CTUHR also showed concern why it is only the contractor, RCBC plumbing, which was found responsible for the accident. “It shouldn’t only be the contractor; the principal, Alimall, should also be made to answer [to the victims]. Why did they sign a contract with RCBC plumbing services when it does not comply with OHS standards?” Arago asked.

Arago also criticized contractualization, as a way of capitalists to evade responsibility to workers in cases of accidents and called for the repeal of the law on contractualization, “This case is just among the many reasons why the law on labor contractualization must be repealed. The changes made by DOLE Department Order 18-A are not enough to protect the workers’ welfare. The fact the labor contracting is still allowed, principals can always get away from liability in cases like these by pointing fingers at their contractors. In the end it is the workers who suffer the most.”

PRESS RELEASE
03 September 2012
For Reference: Daisy Arago, CTUHR Executie Director, (+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.

[In the news] ILO: 2.4 million child laborers in Phl -PhilStar.com

ILO: 2.4 million child laborers in Phl
By Marvin Sy,The Philippine Star
March 25, 2012

MANILA, Philippines – An estimated 2.4 million children with ages ranging from nine to 17 are “employed” across the country, a report from the International Labor Organization said.

Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano cited the data yesterday as he called on the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to step up efforts to curb child labor in the country.

Cayetano expressed concern about the figure and the fact that many of these child laborers are street children who are most vulnerable to exploitation.

He urged the DOLE and DSWD to undertake a joint nationwide campaign aimed at creating higher awareness on child labor and exploitation to protect the vulnerable children against those who exploit their innocence.

“We need to see more government agents checking on industries that hire child laborers and in communities where parents are known to force their children to seek employment,” Cayetano said.

“Government must also be prepared to support both the rehabilitation of the children and the parents,” he added.

Cayetano said he was concerned that a significant number of the child laborers reported by the ILO were engaged in hazardous work.

“Despite being a signatory to various ILO conventions that prevent child labor, the Philippines is known to have one of the largest number of child laborers in the world,” he said.

Read full article @ http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=790746&publicationSubCategoryId=63

[In the news] Labor office in Eastern Visayas warns employers to observe standards | Sun.Star

Labor office in Eastern Visayas warns employers to observe standards | Sun.Star.

February 22, 2012

THE Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) in Eastern Visayas warned business establishment owners to observe labor standards, particularly on granting the prevailing wages for the workers.

Speaking in a press conference, Labor Regional Director Exequiel Sarcauga said the non-giving of the right wages to the workers is not only being violated by local employers but even foreigners who are doing their businesses in the region.

He said the department would conduct its “routinary inspection” to business establishments operating in the region to check if the owners are following the correct daily minimum wage entitled to the workers.

Based on Wage Order Number 16 issued last year by the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWP), which is chaired by the labor regional director, the current daily minimum wage was pegged at P253.

Director Sarcauga said he finds it sad that several business establishments are not following the wage order issued and what makes the situation worst is that business establishments owned by foreigners appear to deliberately violating this order.

“There are so many unscrupulous foreigners who are doing business here (in the region) who are not following our labor standards, including giving the correct daily wage of their workers,” Sarcauga said during the weekly media forum “Harampang ha PIA” held at the regional office of the Philippine Information Agency.

Read full article @ www.sunstar.com.ph

[In the news] DOLE optimistic on passage of labor laws in 2012 – www.gmanetwork.com

DOLE optimistic on passage of labor laws in 2012 
http://www.gmanetwork.com
January 13, 2012

 Notwithstanding the attention on the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona when Congress resumes session Jan. 16, the Department of Labor and Employment voiced hopes lawmakers can pass several key labor laws and international instruments.

DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz particularly pushed for the passage of the “Kasambahay” bill that President Benigno Aquino III had endorsed as a priority measure.

“We at the Department take off from President Benigno S. Aquino III’s and the Legislative Development Advisory Council’s endorsement of the Kasambahay bill as a priority measure in the 15th Congress,” Baldoz said.

She said the DOLE has led a series of multi-sectoral consultations with labor, employers, civil society, consumers groups, and homeowners’ associations for a consensus bill on improving the minimum wages and working conditions of close to one million domestic workers or “kasambahays.”

The proposed measure primarily seeks to amend the present minimum wage for domestic workers, which is still pegged at P800.

Baldoz also said she hopes Congress will ratify International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 189 on Domestic Workers.

ILO Convention 189 is a labor standard instrument that will accord migrant and domestic workers protection and decent work standards.

The Philippines had shepherded the adoption of the Convention in the 100th ILO Conference in Geneva in June 2011, with the DOLE chairing the ILO Labor Standards Sub-Committee on Domestic Work.

Read full article @ www.gmanetwork.com

[In the news] DOLE confirms 64 minors working in South Cotabato mine site- interaksyon.com

DOLE confirms 64 minors working in South Cotabato mine site
Philippine News Agency

GENERAL SANTOS CITY – At least 64 minors have been confirmed to be working in small-scale mining projects in the gold rush town of T’boli, South Cotabato, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) officials said.

Ruby Carrasco, DOLE South Cotabato field office head, reported that the child laborers either worked as “abanteros”, packers or haulers in small-scale mining projects in Barangay Kematu.

She noted that some of the minors worked in “banlas” or sluice mining operations, a method deemed illegal by the provincial government due to its destructive effect on the environment.

“The child laborers have been identified and profiled for the assistance that will be extended to them, including their parents,” Carrasco said.

Read full article @ interaksyon.com

[Press Release] CTUHR to DOLE: Keppel should be penalized

The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights told the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) that Keppel Shipyard should be penalized following DOLE’s report confirming the Singaporean company’s non-compliance with safety standards.

“We are enraged that DOLE has no mention of any penalty for Keppel despite their report confirming the company’s non-compliance and gross violations of safety standards. We are challenging the DOLE to penalize Keppel and not just ‘sit down’ with Keppel executives and talk why the violations were committed,” Daisy Arago CTUHR executive director said.

Six workers died and seven others were injured on October 7 after a 42-ton metal tower supporting the ramp collapsed in Keppel’s worksite in Subic. The investigation report of the DOLE, released a few days later, confirmed that the company did not have a safety officer and a safety health plan at the time of the accident, both of which are violations of safety rules.

“Many workers have died because of gross violations of safety standards like for example what happened to the 10 workers of Eton construction who died early this year. If Keppel is not penalized, companies will continue ignoring safety rules and regulations.”

Arago further noted that aside from possible administrative and criminal liabilities, Keppel should also be made to pay full indemnification to the dead and injured workers.

Flawed safety policy

CTUHR also slammed the existing policy of the DOLE that allows the ‘self-assessment’ of companies employing more than 200 workers of their own compliance with safety and health standards.

“The Keppel accident among many other previous accidents that killed workers is a clear proof that Department Order 57-04 is flawed policy. We are afraid that until and unless this policy of ‘self-assessment’ is scrapped and stricter rules are put in place, deaths and serious injuries to Filipino workers will not be averted,” Arago noted.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
14 September 2011

Reference: Daisy Arago, Executive Director Center for Trade Union and Human Rights, 411.0256, +63910.380.1897

[In the news] Metro minimum wage workers get P22 increase in daily wage – Interaksyon.com

Metro minimum wage workers get P22 increase in daily wage – Interaksyon.com.

InterAksyon.com

MANILA, Philippines – Minimum wage workers in Metro Manila will receive P22 more in their daily basic pay as the Regional Tripartite Wage and Productivity Board in the region approved the amount to be given as a cost of living allowance (COLA).

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, who made the announcement at the Department of Labor and Employment, said the COLA is part of the minimum wage, which now totals P426.

She said that as COLA, it will not be part of the calculation for overtime pay, night differential, and 13th month pay.

Baldoz said the amount will not have an inflationary effect as a Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas study indicates that the threshold is P25.

The increase will become effective 15 days after the publication of the decision in a newspaper of general circulation.

Read full article @ InterAksyon.com

[Press Release] PAL union, labor party press for inclusion of Baldoz in GMA plunder case – PALEA

The Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA) and Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) find it utterly necessary to include Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz and other officials in the plunder case filed by former Solicitor General Frank Chavez against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

“The use of OWWA money to buy votes in 2004 had long been discussed in many fora.  Now is the time to make the guilty parties accountable for squandering millions of OFW funds,” said PM chair Renato Magtubo.

Meanwhile, PALEA President Gerry Rivera called anew on Secretary Baldoz to resign from her post immediately amid the raging controversy.

According to Magtubo, Baldoz together with other members of the OWWA Board cannot dissociate themselves from this crime of Gloria since they facilitated the conversion of OFW funds into election dole outs in 2004.

“In fact workers here and abroad have very strong doubt that Malacanang and labor and officials are only interested in the funds rather than in protecting the welfare of OFWs,” added Magtubo.

Some P530 million of OWWA funds were transferred to Philhealth in 2003.  These were allegedly used to finance the distribution of Philhealth cards during the 2004 election campaigns. Chavez said the fund transfer is illegal.

“During her time, all that’s coming out of the labor department are bad news,” said Rivera, stating as an example the ruling she made on the PAL-PALEA case where she abused her discretion in allowing Lucio Tan to layoff and contract out 2,600 regular jobs in violation of the existing collective bargaining agreement, the Constitution, the Labor Code and International Labor Organization’s conventions.

“And now that she is being associated to Gloria’s misuse of OWWA funds, all the more we suspect that her recent decisions on labor cases do not come from a clean hand,” concluded Rivera.

PRESS RELEASE
Contact:  Gerry Rivera
09157755073; 09285035965

[Press Release] PM pushes for paid leaves for RH services – Partido ng Manggagawa

In reaction to the declaration of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) that bonuses should be given workers involved in family planning, the labor group Partido ng Manggagawa is pushing for paid leaves for employees availing of reproductive health (RH) services. The group believes that provisions of the controversial RH bill which provides for half-day paid leaves for pre-natal consultations would be a big relief to women workers.

“Hindi dapat na isasa-alang-alang ng kababaihang manggagawa ang kanilang kalusugan kapalit ng kalahating-araw na sweldo sa loob ng siyam na buwan na pagbubuntis,” asserted PM Secretary-General Judy Ann Miranda.

The passage of the RH bill is one of the demands to be raised by PM in the coming Labor Day celebration. Aside from the Mendiola rally at noon, PM will also lead Labor Day protests in Cebu City, Davao City, Bacolod City, Iloilo City, General Santos City, Iligan City and Dipolog City. Thousands of workers are expected to participate in the Labor Day protest.

While welcoming the DOLE’s support for the RH bill, PM disagrees with the department’s line of reasoning for pushing its passage.  PM’s premise for supporting the reproductive health bill is rights-based rather than population management.

“Government officials should neither blame overpopulation for lack of jobs in the country nor believe that the RH bill is a solution to this problem.  Unemployment is a function of bad economic policies not lack of family planning. Beyond use of bonuses as incentives to encourage family planning to curb population growth, PM would rather that DOLE actively educate and disseminate information on sexuality and reproductive health as a health and human rights concern to enable workers, especially women, to make sensible decisions with regards to their reproductive health and achieve their ideal family size,” explained Miranda.

She added that, “DOLE should refrain from using the population issue sa kawalan ng komprehensibong plano ng gobyerno sa job generation.  The country’s high unemployment rate is not simply a population problem that will be resolved by the RH bill.  Hind magandang gamitin ang baluktot na katwiran sa pagtahak ng matuwid na daan.”

“Ang direktang ganansiya ng isang minimum wage earner sa RH bill ay complete accurate and relevant information, and affordable and accessible family planning and reproductive health care services and commodities.  Makakatulong din sa kanyang mga anak ang age-appropriate mandatory sexuality and RH education for Grade 5 to 4th year high schools – para makaiwas sa unwanted pregnancies at makapag-desisyon nang maayos para sa kanyang kinabukasan,” added Miranda.

PRESS RELEASE
Partido ng Manggagawa
26 April 2011