Tag Archives: Executive director

[Press Release] Palm oil workers scores victory, 293 casuals now back to work -CTUHR

Palm oil workers scores victory, 293 casuals now back to work

CTUHR logo

After almost a year of painstaking struggle, the 293 unjustly dismissed workers of Filipinas Palm Oil Plantation Inc. (FPPI) can finally go back today albeit still in casual status.

FPPI Workers Union (FPIWU-NAFLU-KMU) President Elmer Jamero reported that the decision to bring the 293 casual workers back to work was made by the FPPI management last Friday, August 30, following a meeting between management and union officials.

Also, some 140 regular workers who were forced out of work since August 16 after a temporary shutdown of two divisions of the said plantation have resumed working today, September 2.

The 293 workers, all members of the bargaining unit and have worked for at least a year in FPPI, were dismissed in October 2012 right after the Department of Labor and Employment conducted an ocular inspection on the reported massive violations of labor standards of the oil palm company. This prompted the union to launch a strike which lasted 62 days from November 2012 to January 2013. The strike ended after DOLE Sec. Rosalinda Baldoz issued on January assumed jurisdiction over the strike and ordered the striking workers to go back to work.

Jamero however noted that despite this initial and partial victory, the fight continues as the management insisted that talks on the union’s bid to regularize the 293 workers be off the negotiating table for the moment.

Moreover, Jamero said that although all the 293 workers can technically work again in the plantation, some of them have may not be coming back since they have looked for other jobs already.

Meanwhile, Daisy Arago, CTUHR executive director, welcomed positively this development saying that the reinstatement of the 293 workers is a “result of the workers’ persistent and organized struggle”.

“This demonstrates the value of solidarity among workers, whether they may be regular or casual, as well as the crucial role of the union in asserting and fighting for workers rights and interests,” Arago added.

Arago also expressed gratitude to the international community by sending letters of appeal to the FPPI management and government authorities in support of the case of the 293 FPPI workers among other labor issues in the said plantation.

CTUHR received nearly 3000 mails from individuals and groups mostly from France in support of the FPPI workers’ campaign.

Arago said that the campaign will continue until the workers are promoted to regular status and are able to enjoy minimum labor standards and benefit from the union’s gains in the collective bargaining agreements.

For reference: Daisy Arago, CTUHR Executive Director, +632.411.02.56

02 September 2013

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[Press Release] Labor group hits gov’t, management response to child labor in Agusan palm oil plantation -CTUHR

Labor group hits gov’t, management response to child labor in Agusan palm oil plantation

CTUHR logo

Center for Trade Union and Human Rights slammed the Department of Labor and Employment and Filipinas Palm Oil Plantation Inc.(FPPI) response to child labor issue in the said company saying that the Anti-Child Labor Program developed by the Technical Working Group (TWG) are “far weaker than palliatives” and “deceiving the workers”.

CTUHR described the interventions made by the management and various government agencies as “a positive result” of the report released last October 2012 which exposed that 24% of workers in oil palm plantations are below 18 years old. However, the group was also quick to criticize the proposals made by the Technical Working Group. Daisy Arago, CTUHR Executive Director expressed, “The recommendations are far weaker than palliatives because they fail to address the root causes of child labor like below minimum wage rates, long term contractualization among others.”

Recently, the TWG adopted two courses of action as part of the Anti-Child Labor Program adopted in FPPI. These are 1) prohibiting and monitoring cases of child labor in FPPI and 2) provision of school buses for the children living inside the plantation.

“Merely prohibiting or monitoring child labor in FPPI is rubbish if issues of contractual work and depressed wages are not substantially addressed. This line of thinking only puts the blame back to the parents, the workers themselves, rather than to the exploitative conditions perpetuated by the FPPI management that pushes young family members to work in the plantation to increase family income,” Arago added.

Arago also hit the proposal to provide school buses saying such action is “useless if the workers cannot even afford to send their children to school since their wages are insufficient for their food expenses.”

The group said that these recommendations will not stop child labor, rather it will only push children to find work outside the plantation to augment their family needs.

Meanwhile CTUHR also denounced FPPI management’s move to stop hiring contractual workers as decietful.

“Instead of reinstating the 268 contractual workers as regular employees, they used the workers’ complaint against long-term contractualization to not hire these workers back. And although FPPI is no longer hiring casual workers directly, they are using the ‘cabo’ system wherein regular workers hire casual workers,” Arago averred.

In November last year, nearly 300 contractual workers were unjustly dismissed by FPPI after the DOLE held an ocular inspection of the company’s compliance to labor standards. The said inspection was prompted by the local union complaint about numerous cases of underpayment of wages, long-term casualization and absence of several benefits.

Arago expressed rage as well over the result of the tripartite discussion that emphasized the workers role in increasing the plantation’s productivity rather than addressing labor issues, “The way FPPI and DOLE managed to make it appear that child labor and casual work is stopped and then pass on the responsibility to increase productivity to the workers is brazenly sly,” Arago added.

The group reiterated their report’s recommendation to end child labor in FPPI and other palm oil plantations in Agusan and 1) implement the minimum wage rates for all employees, 2) regularize all casual workers who have worked in the FPPI for more than a year and 3) provide access to employment, livelihood and other services to families living inside the palm oil plantations.

13 August 2013
For reference: Daisy Arago, Executive Director CTUHR, +632.411.0256

[From the web] YEP2012: pinoy young Educators Convene for Human Rights

YEP2012: pinoy young Educators Convene for Human Rights
By Celine Bernadette H. Francisco
July 29, 2012

“It has long been recognized that an essential element in protecting human rights was a widespread knowledge among the population of what their rights are and how they can be defended.” – Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Sixth UN Secretary-General, 1992-1996

Filipino youth educators and leaders, together with the I am S.A.M. Foundation and United for Human Rights (UHR) Phillyphines, convened at the Youth Educators’ Program (YEP) 2012 for human rights promotion, education and propagation, May 27 to 28, 2012, Mataas na Kahoy, Batangas.

Selected 17 student leaders from UST, FEU, Lyceum of the Philippines University – Manila, and San Beda College Mendiola, young professionals, and non-government organization leaders attended the said event. With the leadership and mentoring of I am S.A.M. Foundation Founder and President Rayla Melchor Santos, Program Director for Rights Respecting Schools (RRS) Maricar V. Flores, Virgilio Dolina (UHR Phillypines Executive Director) and other human rights educators, this event was made possible.

Read full article @ www.iamsamfoundation.com

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[Announcement] SALIGAN- Mindanaw is looking for a LAWYER in Davao City

SALIGAN- Mindanaw is looking for a LAWYER in Davao City

SALIGAN or Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panligal is a legal-resource non-governmental organization. As an alternative law group, SALIGAN seeks to effect societal change by working towards the empowerment of women, the basic sectors and local communities, through the creative use of the law and legal resources. SALIGAN has three offices – one main office in Metro Manila, and two branches (one in Bicol and one in Mindanaw).

SALIGAN-Mindanaw implements the following programs:
Moro and Indigenous Peoples
– Peace
– Environment
– Labor
– Local Governance
– Women
– Urban Poor (underprivileged and homeless citizens)
– Peasant (farmers, farmworkers, and fisherfolk)

SALIGAN- Mindanaw is looking for a LAWYER in Davao City

SALIGAN’s work in each of the programs can be divided into the following major activities:

– Alternative legal education and paralegal formation
– Policy work
– Litigation support
– Research and publications

The lawyers’ principal duties and responsibilities are:
– conducting legal literacy trainings to marginalized sectors
– advocating for policies and laws that are pro-poor
– handling cases, particularly precedent-setting in favor of basic sectors
– preparing reports and other written materials
– working with SALIGAN’s partner organizations, institutions and communities
– doing other work which may be required by the organization

– openness to alternative lawyering and developmental work
– keen interest in working with marginalized sectors
– excellence in verbal and written communication skills
– willingness to travel around Mindanao
– computer literacy

Interested persons may send to Atty. Arnold F. De Vera, Executive Director, their letters of application with curriculum vitae. Applications may be sent to the address below:

Door 1, 422 Champaca Street
Juna Subdivision
Matina, Davao City 8000

Alternatively, applications can also be sent through email <saligan@saligan.org>, or fax at (082)2984161 on or before July 31, 2012.

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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.

Price hikes erode minimum wage increases in NCR – IBON News

Price hikes erode minimum wage increases in NCR – IBON News.

April 19, 2012

Despite seven wage hikes since 2002, the real value of the mandated NCR minimum wage has fallen by some 3.5% from that peak in February 2002 to be worth just Php246 as of December 2011.

For reference: Mr Sonny Africa (IBON executive director) 0928-5053550 | As labor groups file petitions for a substantial wage increase, a study by research group IBON reveals that increases in the mandated minimum wage has not kept pace with inflation in the last decade.

Taking inflation into account, the highest real mandated minimum wage since 1986 in the National Capital Region (NCR) was the Php255 reached in February 2002 (measured in 2000 prices).

Despite seven wage hikes since 2002, the real value of the mandated NCR minimum wage has fallen by some 3.5% from that peak in February 2002 to be worth just Php246 as of December 2011.

Read full article @ ibon.org

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[Press Release] Human Rights groups launch FB campaign to inform and inspire the youth to remember Martial Law

Human Rights groups launch FB campaign to inform and inspire the youth to remember Martial Law

Human Rights groups launched an awareness education campaign online about Martial Law six months before its 40th Anniversary.  Tagged as #rememberML@40, the group pledged to inform and inspire the youth about the dark days of tyranny and urged lawmakers to pass the compensation for martial law victims’ bill before the 40th Anniversary of the Marcos declaration of military rule in the country on September 21 through social networking site Facebook.

To remind the public about this part of our history and educate the new generation, human rights groups led by Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates, Task Force Detainees of the Philippines, Claimants 1081 together with the Commission on Human Rights, PCGG and peoples organizations joined efforts and target to reach 40,000 informed and inspired individuals online by September 21.

“We pledge to reach 40,000 people especially the youth by September 21. Who can best tell stories to our youth about the heroism of human rights defenders during the dictatorship but the generation who witnessed and fought against Martial Law, and the new generation has to know, so that it will never happen again. One of the best tools to reach them is social networking sites,” Max De Mesa, Chairperson of PAHRA said.

The group also wants to generate support for the enactment of the pending Compensation Bill for the victims of human rights violations of the Marcoses through combining online and offline campaigns.

“The bill has been filed and re-filed since the 10th Congress. Some of the victims are already dead, others are sickly and still the survivors bear the agony of waiting for justice. It’s been 26 years since the downfall of the dictatorship and yet justice continues to elude the victims of martial law. We are doing this type of campaign to enlighten the public and to generate support for the bill before May 7 resumption of Congress,” said Emmanuel Amistad, Executive Director of TFDP.

President Aquino in his last SONA declared, “We aim to give due compensation to the victims of martial law.” The bill has passed its third reading in the lower house while a counterpart bill is still pending in the Senate.

#rememberML@40 is a community page in the social networking site Facebook.  According to the group, they will organize discussions, retelling of stories and online events to generate 40,000 voices of informed and inspired individuals who will remember the lessons of Martial Law and call for justice for all victims.

The campaign will also call for series of “online action day” activities that are designed to reach the attention of lawmakers and Malacanang.  The group uses the hand gesture pinky swear to symbolize their pledges to inform and inspire people especially the youth to know and refuse to forget Martial Law. ###

For details please contact:
Egay Cabalitan (Task Force Detainees of the Philippines-TFDP)
Tel:4378054; Mobile:09219645017

Rose Trajano (Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates-PAHRA)
Tel:4362633; Mobile:09065531792
April 16, 2012

[Event] Observe Earth Hour 2012: Go beyond the hour -RAPPLER.com

Observe Earth Hour 2012: Go beyond the hour.

March 31, 2012

MANILA, Philippines –  Earth Hour is set for 8:30 today, Saturday, March 31 — whether you’re in the world or in space.

On earth, 147 countries are expected to participate in the 60-minute switch-off, Earth Hour co-founder and executive director Andy Ridley said in an interview with Rappler.

More than 5,200 cities and towns in 135 countries and territories participated in the movement in 2011, reaching 1.8 billion people across the globe, added Ridley.

And for the first time, the International Space Station has signed up for the cause, organizers declared.

Stationed approximately 400 kilometers above earth, astronaut André Kuipers will capture the impact of the biggest environmental action in human history.

Reaf full article @ www.rappler.com

[Event] Don’t blame the women, blame the abuser! -CATW-AP

PNoy is set to sign a law which leaves out women in prostitution as criminals/vagrants!

Invitation to Take Back the Night!
(Don’t blame the women, blame the abuser!)
April 3, 2012
6 PM, Mendiola Bridge

(“Mary Magdalene Contemplating the Crown of Thorns” by Michelangelo)

This Lent, the Filipino women are being doubly persecuted with the impending passage of an anti-women bill. Women are poor, too. Why leave them out as criminals in this amendatory bill?

For nine years, women’s groups, survivors and advocates have been pushing for an anti-prostitution bill that will shift the accountability away from the bought and onto the buyers as well as the profiteering business. Thus, for legislators to pass a bill simply amending the Vagrancy Act, keeping women in prostitution criminalized, while all other actors are decriminalized, is sheer callousness and misogyny. It is nothing but early and crass electioneering in the guise of being pro-poor.

PAALALA: Magsuot po ng kulay puti at magdala ng kandila upang ilawan ang labing-apat na istasyon ng krus ng mga kababaihan sa prostitusyon. Mga kontak: Clydie Pasia (4342149), Jean Enriquez (0917 8235326).

Alliance of Progressive Labor • Ateneo Human Rights Centre • Bagong Kamalayan • Buklod • CATW-AP • Center for Overseas Workers • Development Action for Women Network • Development Through Active Women Networking • EnGendeRights • Focus on the Global South • Ging Cristobal • IMA Foundation • Lawig Bubai • LUNA Legal Resource Center for Women and Children • Pagtinabangay Foundation • PKKK • PREDA • La Proteccion de la Infancia, Inc. • Rainbow Rights Project (R-Rights), Inc. • Renew Foundation • SARILAYA • SAMARITANA • Sidlakan • Talikala • Tisaka • Transform Asia • WomanHealth Phils. • Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau • Women’s Crisis Center • Women’s Media Circle Foundation • Youth and Students Advancing Gender Equality • World March of Women

Jean Enriquez
Executive Director, CATW-AP
Tel: 63-2-4342149

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] Human rights groups urges Aquino “Tuldukan na ang tortyur’! Announce policy of total elimination of torture -UATC

Human rights groups urges Aquino “Tuldukan na ang tortyur’! Announce policy of total elimination of torture. Photo by TFDP

Human rights groups urges Aquino “Tuldukan na ang tortyur’! Announce policy of total elimination of torture

As the country marks the 26th anniversary of the 1986 EDSA “People Power”, several human rights groups called on the Aquino administration to take all necessary measures to announce a policy of “total elimination” of the vestiges of Martial Law.

While the Anti-Torture Act or Republic Act (RA) No. 9745 is enacted to criminalize the acts of torture, the United Against Torture Coalition (UATC)-Philippines, made the call noting there are reports cases of torture being routinely practiced by authorities against suspects despite the law criminalizing such act.

In its statement, Ernesto A. Anasarias, Executive Director of Balay Rehabilitation Center and currently the head of UATC Secretariat, said “the authorities’ partiality not to comply with the law runs in the ‘institutional impunity’ we have right now.”

“The persistence of torture casts doubts on the effectiveness of the law. Despite the law, in practice, there are insufficient legal safeguards for arrested suspects and detainees, including among others, failure to bring them promptly before a judicial authority, restricted access to lawyers and medical doctors, and failure to contact family member immediately after their arrest,” Anasarias added.

Edeliza P. Hernandez of the Medical Action Group (MAG) likewise claimed the government seems to be dragging their heels on the investigation of torture cases. No member of the police and military has been arrested for alleged torture case since Aquino took office, and no superiors have been put on trial for their suspected involvement in or acquiescence to the alleged acts of torture.

“We cite as an example the case of Lenin Salas and his four companions in Pampanga against Police Supt. Madzgani Mukaram for violation of the Anti-Torture Act. The victims were tortured which was medically documented and verified. But last July 21, 2011, the prosecutor disregarded the evidences in favor of the accused and the case was dismissed for insufficiency of evidence,” Hernandez said.

The group reiterates its concerns over the increasing number of cases which expose the weak implementation of “command responsibility” as stipulated in the Anti-Torture Act and the Law on the International Humanitarian Law, which embolden perpetrators in doing acts of torture. This situation breeds and perpetuates impunity.

Max M. de Mesa of the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) said “the many perpetrators of unresolved cases of torture have become obstacles to the announced “paradigm shift” in Aquino’s administration that it would adhere to the primacy of human rights.”

“Particularly those experienced by Abdul Khan Balanting while in custody of the Army’s 39th Scout Ranger Company in Sumisip, Basilan and that of Lenin Salas and companions in the hands of security forces headed by PSupt. Mukaram expose the collution between the responsible command and the rank and file to acquiesce or cover up the violation and/or crime. This is tantamount to superior or command conspiracy,” de Mesa added.

On the medical documentation findings, Ajid was heavily tortured. He suffered first and second-degree burns in different parts of his body, including the head, face, private parts, abdomen, lower back and buttocks, among others.

“Hangad namin ang katarungan sa pag-tortyur kay Lenin at sa kasamahan niya,” said a Salas family member. “Hindi kami magpapatakot.” (We will seek justice for the torture of Lenin and his companions. We will not be intimidated.”)

The group underscored the necessity that for the government to effectively address the issue of torture, it should publicly announce a clear policy of “total elimination” of all acts of torture, and by fully implementing the laws and international human rights instruments against all human rights violations.

The UATC-Philippines is a coalition of human rights non-government organizations and civil society organizations working together in defending human rights and campaigning against the use of torture in the country.

[Press Release] Labor NGO hails SC ruling on Luisita – CTUHR

Labor NGO, Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) hailed the Supreme Court’s unanimous vote in favor of total land distribution of the 4914.15-hectare Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) to more than 6,000 farmer-beneficiaries saying that the decision released on Wednesday is a ‘dramatic victory’ for HLI farmers in their protracted struggle for land and justice.

CTUHR Executive Director Daisy Arago said, “It is a success for the farmers of Luisita and the unanimous vote of the magistrates only highlights the justness of the farmers’ demand for their right to land. It is a dramatic victory for the Luisita farm-workers in their fight for land and justice especially for those who have sacrificed their lives during the half-century struggle.”

On its ruling, the SC junked the stock distribution option and unanimously agreed that the Cojuangco-owned estate should be distributed to 6,296 farmer beneficiaries in accordance to an order of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) in 2005. The order also include the sales of Luisita Realty Inc. from the 200-hectare land converted to industrial land worth Php500 million [Read link].

“The farmers literally shed sweat and blood for the Luisita land. We are happy that after decades of struggle and many lives lost, the Supreme Court this time, sided with the farmers.”

At least seven farm-workers died during a violent dispersal in November 2004 following then Labor Sec. Patricia Sto. Tomas’ order to assume jurisdiction over the strike of HLI farm-workers. In 1989, several farm-workers were also shot dead in the infamous Mendiola massacre as thousands of farmers rallied near Malacañang demanding then President Corazon Aquino to implement land reform.

Arago however noted that only until land is finally distributed to the farmers will justice be completely served especially to the martyrs of Luisita, “The SC ruling thus should be implemented immediately. The farmers have suffered long enough and the President’s family has no reason to delay the distribution of land.”

Aside from distributing the land, CTUHR also called for full government support to the farmers for developing the land distributed to them. “The government should provide access to support and subsidies to farmers so they can develop the land. If these are not made available to them, the lands may eventually fall again in the hands of big landlords once farmers are forced to sell or pawn their share of land because they are unable to afford the high costs of seeds and pesticides.”

Arago also said that the issue of HLI affects not only Luisita farmers but all the farmers in the country, “What the Aquino administration will do next and how fast it will respond to this ruling is a test case for President Aquino on how sincere his administration is in implementing land reform.”

25 November 2011

Reference: Daisy Arago, Executive Director Center for Trade Union and Human Rights, +632.4110256, +63910.380.1897, ctuhr.org

[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.

14 September 2011

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

[Press Release] Papal Nuncio, International Groups Show Solidarity to First Church People-Workers Conference

The Philippine representative of Pope Benedict 16th commend the organizers and participants of the Church People-Workers Solidarity (CWS) National Conference  that will start today, September 12 here in Cebu City, saying the gathering is an opportune time to “reflect upon the Church’s mission to be involved actively in social transformation.”

File photo source globalnation.inquirer.net

Archbishop Guiseppe Pinto, Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines, conveyed his message through the conference convenors Cebu Archbishop Jose S. Palma whose Cebu diocese will host the National gathering, and Bishop Gerardo A. Alminaza of the Archdiocese of Jaro.

The CWS National Conference will start today, Sept 12 until Sept 15  at the Mariner’s Court near  Pier1 Cebu City. Around 400 delegates are expected to attend the activity. The activity coincides with the 30th anniversary of Blessed John Paul II’s encyclical letter Laborem exercens. Said encyclical letter emphasizes the primacy of labor over capital and affirms the dignity of human work.

Other international labor and Church groups have expressed solidarity to the National Conference. Archbishop Dr. Werner Thissen, Chairman of the German Bishop’s Conference for MISEREOR in his letter said, “[i]n view of the difficult situation  in which Filipino workers find themselves both at home and abroad and in view of threat to and persecution of trade union members in the Philippine, the Church must show  solidarity.”

A Canada-based international women and labor organization, Maquila Solidarity Network, also commends the activity. Executive Director, Lynda Yanz said that their group hopes that the conference will be able to further strengthen the critical bond of the Church and the workers and truly build a “Church for the Poor.”

The labor group likewise recognizes the invaluable role of the Church in supporting and strengthening the struggle for human rights and dignity of workers.###

Reference: Gary Martinez, Spokesperson, Church People-Workers Solidarity,+639393914418

[Press Release] Church and workers unity a ‘positive step’ amidst grim labor conditions – CTUHR

Church and workers unity a ‘positive step’ amidst grim labor conditions – CTUHR

The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights hailed the Church-People and Workers Solidarity (CWS) as a “positive step” in supporting and reinforcing the workers’ struggle amidst severe conditions of the workers and the poor.

CWS is a group convened by bishops, priests, nuns and other church people together with unions, workers organizations, and labor rights advocates. CWS affirms the social teachings of the Church to promote social justice and aims to particularly advance labor rights. CTUHR is one of its convenors.

Daisy Arago, executive director of CTUHR said, “The formation of Church-People and Workers Solidarity is a positive step that can reinforce the movement for the advancement of workers’ rights especially amidst worsening conditions for the workers and the poor.”

“Today, the impoverished condition of the laboring class has taken away the human dignity of the workers and their families. The coming together of the Church and the workers to fight social injustice is an active step on the part of the Church. It is a step of fulfill and realize the social doctrines of the Church to promote labor over capital and uphold social justice.”

Social inequality has become more salient than ever with the rich becoming richer and the poor, poorer,” Arago noted, “A [Forbes] survey revealed that the richest Filipinos increased their wealth by 39 percent in just one year. On the other hand, the government has cut down the poverty threshold from P52 to P46 a day.”

Arago further explained that workers continue to experience intensified attacks in both economic and political levels despite the change in presidency over a year ago. “The Aquino government has failed to end human rights and workers rights violations. In fact, compared to Arroyo’s first year, Aquino’s human rights record is far worse, with killings in the labor sector totaling to six compared to only one in 2001. We were also able to document more than 30, 000 victims of human rights violations in Aquino’s first year compared to only a little more than 5,000 in Arroyo’s first year,” Arago avers.

“Workers are also hard hit by the Aquino government’s economic and labor policies which favor investors at the expense of the welfare and rights of marginalized sectors. This is well-demonstrated in some of Aquino’s decisions regarding workers demands and issues such as giving the workers a meager COLA instead of a substantial wage hike, approval of outsourcing at PAL, successive oil price hikes, budget cuts in social services, refusal to make a stand on the issue of land distribution on Hacienda Luisita among many other people’s issues.”

Arago stressed the importance of forming CWS in these times, “With CWS, the workers have found allies in the Church during a time when they can hardly find allies in the government to pursue their interests. And while the government has abandoned the workers in their plight, the Church has joined the workers in their struggle.”

CWS will be duplicated at various levels: at the diocese, parishes and communities.

Reference: Daisy Arago, Executive Director, Center for Trade Union and Human Rights, 411.0256, pie.ctuhr@gmail.com

[Press Release] ECOP’s top industrial relations awardees are union busters – CTUHR

The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights is appalled by the Kapatiran sa Industriya (KAPATID) Award given on May 5 by the Employers’ Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) to twelve companies, a number of which have records of union busting and labor rights violations.

Thirteen companies were recognized by ECOP for their so-called “excellence in industrial relations, quality and productivity, social accountability, and strategic visioning and partnering for business and job survival.” Of the twelve, four companies namely, Dole Philippines (Dolefil), the Grand Winner as well as Nestle, Toyota, and SM Retail have long records of workers and union rights violations, according to the labor NGO.

The panel of judges was composed of Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, ILO-Manila Director Lawrence Jeff Johnson, Dean Jorge Sibal of UP-School of Labor and Industrial Relations, and David Balangue from the private sector.

“ECOP’s handing of awards to one of their own is logical even if the barometer runs counter to international human rights standards. But getting representatives from the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the Department of Labor and Employment (ILO) as judges did not only leave bitter taste to the award but also smacks of workers’ right to freedom of association that both institutions supposedly pledged to protect.  The awardees who were recognized for their excellence in industrial peace and social accountability had in fact busted independent and genuine unions in their own companies through combination of legal maneuvers and force,” CTUHR executive director Daisy Arago noted.

Dolefil, Toyota, Nestle: union rights violators

Dolefil, Toyota, and Nestlé have existing complaint at International Labor Organization filed since 2007 and were subjects of investigation of the first ILO High Level Mission (ILO-HLM) in 2009 on serious violations of freedom of association under ILO convention 87 and 98.

“Dolefil’s record of union discrimination and unfair labor practices, harassments including use of the military since 2006 against AMADO-KADENA-NAFLU-KMU was long,” Arago added. “These were even confirmed by SGS auditors for the SAI [Social Accountability International].”

SAI is an international group that gives certification to multinationals that uphold workers rights among other corporate social responsibilities in their respective workplace. SAI, following the SGS audit affirmed the guilt of Dolefil for violations of the right to freedom of association in 2010.

Arago pointed out that this record of rights violation committed by Dolefil was brushed aside by the very statement of ILO Manila director Lawrence Jeff Johnson by saying that ‘Dole has much to be proud of….[as it encompassed] everything we were looking for in our top category: positive employee relations, community service, quality products and environmental responsibility.’

Nestle’s record is even more appalling according to Arago, “Regular workers at Nestlé Philippines in Cabuyao, Laguna who spent 20 years of their lives in the company remain on strike since 2002.  Forty-eight (48) of them already died from various illnesses without receiving proper medical attention, while their previous jobs were handed over to docile and lower-paid contract workers.”

“The killing of Nestlé union president Diosdado Fortuna on September 2005 at the height of strike remains unsolved. So was the killing of Meliton Roxas who was gunned down in front of the picketline in a Nestle strike in 1989. One unionist killed is already too many to raise alarm. But Nestlé Philippines was still awarded for industrial peace and social accountability. And now Nestlé is saying that with this award, it has ‘polished’ its image.”

“Toyota’s case is no different. Independent initiatives of workers to organize union in 2001 were met with mass dismissal of almost 300 union members.” Arago said.

ILO, DOLE’s vote: a slap on trade unionism

Arago said that the ILO’s participation in conferring the awards especially to Dolefil, Nestlé, and Toyota is particularly disconcerting, “It was like striking a dagger at the very heart of independent trade unions who have come to the ILO for support if not justice, when both capital and government had ganged on them. ILO’s endorsement of this award to union rights violators is tantamount to closing its doors to genuine unions that had mastered the courage to challenge the system that perpetuates violations and refuse to become objects of repression.”

“Equally, we are dismayed with the Department of Labor and Employment under Aquino for not even pretending to be neutral, and shedding any façade of pro workers stance. Could the awarding which happened almost in the nick of inaugurating Aquino administration’s first year of office an open statement or a warning of what it would be like for workers in the next five years? The indications are far from the promised straight path and we could not help but become wary of the kind of ‘industrial peace’ the Aquino administration is pursuing” Arago added.

30 June 2011
for reference: Daisy Arago, Executive Director, Center for Trade Union and Human Rights, +63910.380.1897

[International] Vague and Procedural Commitments: Asian States Failed to Make the UN Human Rights Council Elections Meaningful

Vague and Procedural Commitments:
Asian States Failed to Make the UN Human Rights Council Elections Meaningful

UNHRC file photo source indiadaily.org

UNHRC. file photo source indiadaily.org

(20 May 2011, Geneva/Bangkok) – The United Nations General Assembly elected 15 new member States to the Human Rights Council (Council), a 47-member intergovernmental body mandated to promote universal respect for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Seats to the Council are allotted by regional groupings, and today’s election saw the inclusion of 4 new Asian members to the Council, namely India (181 votes), Indonesia (184 votes), the Philippines (183 votes) and Kuwait (166 votes). Kuwait was the last-minute candidate State, replacing Syria which had deferred its bid for a seat amidst its deplorable human rights record as protesters in the country continue to face severe and violent repression.

“We are deeply dismayed at the conduct of the group of Asian States, who again put forward only as many candidates as there were vacancies through the practice of endorsement within the regional group. This tendency of seeking “clean slates” deprives the opportunity for the General Assembly to select members to the Council based on their human rights performances as well as the quality of their voluntary pledges and commitments”, expressed Mr. Yap Swee Seng, Executive Director of the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA). “While we welcome Syria’s move not to assert its bid at this year’s election, we regret that Kuwait’s hasty candidacy was presented in the same manner based on the pre-determined agreement within the group of  Asian States”, he added.

Voluntary pledges and commitments made by candidate States are expected to be measurable and time-bound with concrete action points for implementation. It is also imperative that the pledges are based on open and inclusive consultation with all stakeholders in the country and involve streamlining the recommendations from UN human rights mechanisms, including Treaty Bodies, Special Procedures and the Universal Periodic Review. “It is disappointing that the pledges and commitments presented by India, Indonesia and the Philippines fall short of being an effective tool to gauge their qualification for membership to the Council as they continue to be vague and devoid of any concrete assurance which reduces them to simply a procedural exercise”, said Ms. Poengky Indarti, Executive Director of the Indonesian Human Rights Monitor (IMPARSIAL). “Indonesia’s commitment to promote interfaith cooperation at the international and multilateral levels is positive, however the same initiatives must be prioritised at home as well by building on the calls of affected constituencies in the country”, she continued.

In addition, the pledges made by the three Asian States have raised more questions rather than provide clarity on their commitments. “India has expressed its commitment to ratify the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT). However, uncertainty remains whether the Government of India will render its full support and ensure that the Prevention of Torture Bill 2010, as amended by the Select Committee of the Upper House, is passed by both Houses of Parliament at the earliest. Failing which, India’s commitment towards the ratification of the CAT would become questionable”, said Ms. Vrinda Grover, representative of the Working Group on Human Rights in India and the UN (WGHR).

“The membership election was one of the Council’s landmark features when it was established in 2006. The clean slates practice must end immediately so that States may stand for election and compete on their serious and demonstrable contributions and pledges in upholding the highest human rights standards and fully cooperating with the Council. To this end, certain measures must be put in place for the Council to meet the membership standards set out in General Assembly resolution 60/251, for instance, annual assessment of the level of cooperation by member and candidate States with the Council and its sub-organs.”, urged Mr. Emmanuel Amistad, Executive Director of the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP). (ENDS)

For further information or media interviews, please contact:
In Bangkok, Yap Swee Seng, FORUM-ASIA, +66 81 868 9178, yap@forum-asia.org
In Geneva, Giyoun Kim, FORUM-ASIA, +41 79 595 7931, una@forum-asia.org

Notes to editors:
·         Member States of the UN Human Rights Council (Council) are elected directly and individually by secret ballot by the majority of the members of the UN General Assembly (GA). The 47 seats to the Council are distributed as follows among regional groups: Asian States (13); African States (13); Latin American and Caribbean States (8); Eastern European States (6); and Western European and other States (7). The members of the Council serve for a period of three years and shall not be eligible for immediate re-election after two consecutive terms.

·         The elections of members to the Council take place every year in May. Four for out of the six elections since 2006, Asian States have attempted to put forward “clean slates”. The elections for 15 new members to the Council for 2011-2014 took place in New York today on 20 May 2011 at 10 a.m. EST. With today’s election results, Asian member States sitting in the Council from 19 June 2011 are Bangladesh, China, Jordan, India, Indonesia, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, the Maldives, the Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Thailand.

·         When electing members of the Council, the GA shall take into account the contribution of candidates to the promotion and protection of human rights and their voluntary pledges and commitments made thereto. The pledges and commitments made by Asian candidate States are available at:

India, http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/65/758
Indonesia, http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/65/807
Philippines, http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/65/790
Kuwait, http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/65/839

[Press Release] P22 COLA insufficient, insulting to workers – CTUHR

The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights criticized the P22 cost of living allowance approved by the Regional Tripartite Wage and Productivity Board (RTWPB), saying that such amount and form of non-wage benefit is both insufficient and insulting to workers.

“Twenty-two pesos a day is not even enough to buy a kilo of NFA rice. It is obviously insufficient to provide relief to workers amid spiraling prices of basic commodities and oil products,” Daisy Arago executive director of CTUHR said.

Ibon Foundation reported earlier this month that inflation since July 2010 has averaged at 3.7 percent, rising to 4.5 percent in April 2011. The real value of P404 minimum wage was therefore eroded to a mere P234.90 when compared to 2000 prices.

Arago noted that the approved P22 COLA would probably increase wages to P426 but it must be noted that employers at times are harder to comply with non-wage benefits.

“Thus, giving this measly amount in the form of a non-wage benefit is all the more insulting. The workers have long demanded for significant wage hikes that cover increases in night differential and overtime pay. This P22 COLA is not even a bit of that,” Arago says. “If any, it only proves that the Aquino government is insensitive to the needs of the ailing population and listens only to the business sector.”

Arago noted that with this development, the clamor for a nationally-legislated wage hike becomes even more legitimate and imperative.

“The regional wage boards have made it very difficult to approve major wage hikes for all the workers to benefit. It has only added misery to workers’ lives,  especially for those in other regions where minimum wages are much lower. Only a nationally-legislated wage hike workers across the country will ensure benefit for all workers regardless of their region and industry. Currently, the House of Representatives are deliberating at the committee level on the proposed bill of Anakpawis Partylist to legislate a P125 nationwide wage hike and it appears that some senators are also interested in forming a similar senate bill.  The people should not stop until this piece of legislation is finally passed,” Arago added.
11 May 2011
for reference: Daisy Arago, Executive Director, Center for Trade Union and Human Rights, +63910.380.1897

[Press release] Murder of mining worker equates to ‘killing’ of small-scale mining by MNCs says CTUHR

Imge by zamboangajournal.blogspot.com

The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) condemned the killing of Santos “Ricky” Manrique, president of Federation of Miners’ Association in Pantukan (FEDMAP) Compostela Valley saying that the incident is characteristic of how huge mining corporations are also murdering local and small-scale mining groups.

“Whilst the murder of Manrique Santos is deplorable in itself, this incident is also reflective of the state of mining industry in the country where multinational companies are displacing small-scale local mining groups and communities of national minorities to allow MNCs to extract mineral resources in the country’s mountain ranges. With Aquino’s public private partnership, this trend will surely intensify,” says Daisy Arago, CTUHR executive director.

“It must also be mentioned that special units of the Armed Forces are usually assigned in mining sites to ‘render security guarding services, maintain peace and order, guarding and protecting installations and properties’ of mining companies. These are made possible through MOAs between local government units, the AFP and the mining companies like in Kitako Mining and Sagittarius Mines also in Southern Mindanao. Thus, it becomes almost a given that where there are mining operations, there are also military operations,” Arago noted.

According to reports, Manrique is one of the leaders who strongly oppose the entry of foreign mining corporations in a 1, 663 hectare gold-mining area in Kingking village in Pantukan. He is also a village councilor of Napnapan village.

Small scale miners in Pantukan have been opposing the joint operation of the Nationwide Development Corporation (NADECOR) and Russell Mining and Minerals Inc, a US-owned mining corporation.

Other than the Pantukan mining project, Manrique also opposed the entry of Napnapan Mineral Resources, Inc. (NMRI) that was allowed by the government to operate on a 4,912-hectare of land affecting small-scale miners in villages of Boringot, Biasong and Diat.

In April 12 at around 6:30 pm, two unidentified men barged in Manrique’s residence in Mendoza subdivision and shot the miner several times while he was having dinner. The gunmen immediately fled the crime scene riding a motorcycle that headed towards Tagum City. Santos sustained three gunshot wounds causing his death.

“The perpetrators couldn’t be any bolder by killing the victim in his very home. We condemn this grave human rights violation and we demand President Aquino to live his promise. When he won the presidency even before he first took office last year, Aquino promised to bring closure to human rights killings. Almost a year has passed yet killings of labor leaders and activists continue to rise with no one still being prosecuted,” Arago added.

Manrique is the fifth labor leader murdered under Aquino. He is the forty-fourth victim of extrajudicial killings since Aquino took office in June 2010.#

With reports from Nonoy Librado Development Foundation (NLDF) and sunstar.com.ph,

For Reference: Daisy Arago, Executive Director, Center for Trade Union and Human Rights, +3910.380.1897