Tag Archives: Labor rights

[Press Release] Harassment, pol rights violations against unionists intensified in 2015 -CTUHR

Harassment, pol rights violations against unionists intensified in 2015

CTUHR logoCases of harassment and intimidation against trade unionists and labor activists dramatically soared in Y2015 as documented by the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights. Compared to five cases in the previous year, at least 35 cases of harassment and intimidation committed against 192 individuals comprised mainly of trade unionists, labor activists and staff members of national trade union centers have been documented by the labor NGO in 2015.

Civil and political rights violations (CPR) committed against workers and the urban poor also intensified with as documented cases increased by 200 percent from 30 cases in 2014 to 91 cases in 2015. Cases of CPR violations documented by the group include extra-judicial killings (2), physical assault (7), assault on the picketline (9), divestment and destruction of property (6), grave threat (8), divestment and destruction of properties (6), fabrication of criminal charges (3), arbitrary detention (4) and food blockade (2).

Daisy Arago, CTUHR Executive Director CTUHR noted that the dramatic rise in cases of harassments and other rights violations against trade unionists and labor activists as well as other rights violations shows not just a continuing but intensifying state policy to suppress independent and progressive trade unionism in the country.

The group noted that harassments particularly targeted the staff members of national labor centers Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) and union officials of public sector union Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE). Looking at the cases the group observed a familiar pattern: men who introduced themselves as from the military followed these staff members or officers of the organizations or visited them at home at no standard time, but usually in early morning, told the victims that they know what the unionists or staff members are doing and offered them help if they cooperate with the state. Some of these men left cellphone numbers to their targeted victims for contact.

Killings of labor activists and members of the urban poor also persisted according to the group. At least two individuals (one labor organizer and one from the urban poor sector) were extra-judicially killed last year.

In addition, the government and capitalists also used naked force to break up the workers’ peaceful protests that injured at least 100 individuals. Notably, contractual workers of Tanduay Distillers Inc. went on strike since May 18 and experienced several incidents of violent and bloody assaults from both state agents and goons reportedly hired by the Lucio Tan-owned company.

CTUHR also expressed alarm over increasing insecurity and deteriorating working conditions in the country amidst the so-called stable growth. Major cases of labor standards and rights violations against workers across industries and sectors nearly doubled from 50 cases in 2014 to 90 cases in 2015 affecting thousands of workers. Twelve cases of retrenchment and closure documented by CTUHR displaced 3,653 workers and driving them to join the army of unemployed.

Workers who were able to withstand earlier attempts to bust their union are kept to struggling harder as violations of collective bargaining agreements also deepened. Cases of this type of violations doubled from 7 in 2014 to 14 cases in 2015 affecting over 6,000 workers. This involved unions which were established years ago.

Occupational accidents resulting in workers death was also highest in 2015, when 118 workers died compared to 11 victims in 2014. Kentex Factory fire the biggest casualty, accounted for 74 deaths.

“With this state of labor rights in the country, it becomes crystal clear that the Aquino government’s policies of relaxing labor standards further opened the floodgate for more workers rights violations while ensuring favorable and profitable business climate,” Arago said. The group warned that if this style of “daang matuwid” labor policy will be continued by the government who will succeed Aquino, the 40 million Filipino workers are bound to bear more miserable conditions.###

For reference: Daisy Arago, CTUHR Executive Director, +63916.248.4876. Telefax +632.411.0256

28 January 2016

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[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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[Statement] Urgent Call to Political Candidates: Celebrate Labor Day by Upholding Workers’ Rights and Dignity -VCDG

Urgent Call to Political Candidates:
Celebrate Labor Day by Upholding Workers’ Rights and Dignity

On behalf of the bishops and priests of the Visayas Clergy Discernment Group (VCDG), I would like to call on government officials and those running for elective positions to meaningfully celebrate the Feast Day of Saint Joseph the Worker and the International Workers’ Day on May 1, 2013, by enacting laws and implementing programs promoting the human dignity of workers.

We are one with Pope Francis who said in his book On Heaven and Earth, “We have to search for equality of opportunities and rights, to fight for social benefits, a dignified retirement, holidays, rest, freedom for trade unions. All of these issues create social justice. There should be no have-nots and I want to emphasize that the worst wretchedness is not to be able to earn your bread, not to have the dignity of work.”

Recently, workers from the different parts of the Visayas and the whole country have shared with us that their rights as workers have been violated due to the following: unemployment, low wages, contractualization, and union-busting. How can they joyfully celebrate May 1?

While May 1 celebrates the victory of the 1886 workers’ strike for an eight-hour workday, we are appalled that some garment workers in factories in the Mactan Export Processing Zone in Cebu are forced to work for more than 16 hours a day until the quota is reached, else they would be “shot by the guard.”

Pope Francis also said, “We live in the most unequal part of the world, which has grown the most yet reduced misery the least.The unjust distribution of goods persists, creating a situation of social sin that cries out to Heaven and limits the possibilities of a fuller life for so many of our brothers.”

What the Holy Father said is also true in our country where amidst so-called “economic growth”, poverty incidence remained the same since 2006, according to the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB). So many of our workers have become jobless, hungry and homeless.

Last February 2013 in an Election Summit of the Archdiocese of Cebu, workers listed the following as their agenda: 1) Employment through developing domestic industries; 2) Decent and living wage: Support legislated wage increase; 3) Regular jobs: Abolish contractualization of labor; 4) Worker’s rights protected: Abolish the power of the Labor Secretary to assume jurisdiction of labor dispute.
We, the electorate must ask the political candidates to heed the Workers’ Agenda. A candidate’s commitment to the fulfillment of workers’ rights and the promotion of the workers’ dignity must be one of the important considerations in voting for him/her. All of us must do our share to address the workers’ plight, as Pope Francis reminded us that failing to do this “is going against the commandment of God which says that we have to transform the world.”

For reference:

Bishop Gerardo A. Alminaza, D.D.
Auxiliary Bishop of Jaro/ VCDG Head Convenor
Tel. No. 032-4068079

E-Mail Address: visayasclergydiscernment@yahoo.com

Press Statement
April 29, 2013

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[Press Release] Bahrain: Abuse of Migrant Workers Despite Reforms -HRW

Bahrain: Abuse of Migrant Workers Despite Reforms
Urgent Need to Enforce Labor Laws, Provide Redress

(Beirut, October 1, 2012) – Hundreds of thousands of mostly South Asian migrant workers in Bahrain face exploitation and abuse despite government reforms intended to protect them, Human Rights Watch said in a report issued today.

The 122-page report, “For A Better Life: Migrant Worker Abuse in Bahrain and the Government Reform Agenda,” documents the many forms of abuse and exploitation suffered by migrant workers in Bahrain and details the government’s efforts to provide redress and strengthen worker protections. Bahraini authorities need to implement labor safeguards and redress mechanisms already in place and prosecute abusive employers, Human Rights Watch said. The government should extend the 2012 private sector labor law to domestic workers, who are excluded from key protections.

“Bahraini authorities understand that migrant workers have helped build the country and have instituted some important reforms,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “But without more vigorous enforcement, these reforms do little to address the most widespread rights violations such as failure to pay wages and withholding workers’ passports.”

Bahrain has just over 458,000 migrant workers, about 77 percent of the total work force, public and private. Most are employed in low-skill, low-wage jobs in construction, trade, manufacturing, and domestic work.

Human Rights Watch interviewed 62 migrant workers and met with government officials, recruitment agents, diplomats from labor-sending countries, labor attorneys, and worker advocates.

Recent government reforms include safety regulations, measures to combat human trafficking, workers’ rights education campaigns, and rules giving migrants greater ability to leave their employers. Human Rights Watch found that authorities enforce some safeguards, such as a ban on midday construction work during dangerously hot summer months. But authorities have not adequately carried out several other worker protections, such as those against withholding wages, charging recruitment fees, and confiscating passports. All of these practices make it harder for workers to leave abusive work situations.

Migrant workers in Bahrain also face discrimination and abuses from Bahraini society in general. Human Rights Watch documented several violent attacks against South Asian migrant workers in March 2011, during a period of heightened political unrest. Migrants in some cases said their attackers were anti-government protesters. Pakistani workers provided evidence to Human Rights Watch about attacks that led to the death of a fellow worker and seriously injured others.

Human Rights Watch found that employers who violate migrant worker rights typically do not face the penalties provided in Bahraini law and rarely, if ever, face criminal consequences outlined in the penal code and laws against human trafficking. Human Rights Watch found no evidence that Bahraini authorities have utilized anti-trafficking legislation, introduced in 2008, to prosecute labor related violations.

The plight of many migrant workers begins in their home countries, where many pay local recruitment agencies fees equivalent to 10 to 20 months of wages in Bahrain, incurring substantial debts, often using family home and valuables as collateral. This debt, sometimes exacerbated when employers withhold wages, effectively forces many migrants to accept abusive work conditions. Employers in Bahrain routinely confiscate workers’ passports. Coupled with the prevailing sponsorship system (kefala), these practices greatly limit the ability of workers to leave employers and freely return home.

Workers consistently told Human Rights Watch that unpaid wages topped their list of grievances. Half of the workers Human Rights Watch interviewed said that their employers withheld their wages for between three to ten months. One domestic worker did not receive wages from her employer for five years.

Raja H. worked in construction along with 19 other men who said they had not been paid for four months. “My father died, and I’m the oldest brother,” he said. “I have younger brothers and sisters and one brother who’s working as a laborer in Pakistan. I call my family and they tell me to send them money. If I don’t get money, what am I supposed to say? I’ve got a wife and my kids are at school and it’s a big problem.”

Workers also described low wages, excessive working hours, and physical and psychological abuse – and in the case of domestic workers, sexual abuse. Construction workers raised the persistent problem of crowded and unsafe labor camps. The suicide rate for migrant workers is alarmingly high, Human Rights Watch found. In a few cases, labor conditions amounted to forced labor.

Domestic workers, almost all of them women, described working up to 19-hour days, with minimal breaks and no days off. Many said they are prevented from leaving their employer’s homes, and some said that they aren’t provided with adequate food.

“We worked from 5:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.,” said Ayesha K. “No break time. No rest. No time to eat even.” The Gulf Daily News reported on September 18, 2012, the case of 63-year-old Aakana Satyawati, whose employer allegedly had not paid her for the past two years and had refused to allow her to leave to visit her family in India for nearly 21 years, “Isolated in private homes, domestic workers are often victim to appalling work hours for little pay, and sometimes physical and sexual abuse,” Stork said. “These workers face the greatest risk of abuse yet have the fewest legal protections.”

A new labor law that went into effect in July expands a few protections to domestic workers, including annual vacations, and codifies others, including access to labor dispute mediations. The law fails, however, to mandate needed reforms such as establishing maximum daily and weekly work hours and weekly days off.

In some areas, Bahrain has made noteworthy improvements, Human Rights Watch found. The Labor Market Regulatory Authority, an agency created in 2006, streamlines work visa applications and administers worker education campaigns, some of which provide information on worker rights and redress. A law passed in 2009 sharply reduced the transport of workers in “open air” trucks, which had led to many injuries and deaths. A government-run shelter has taken in female migrant workers fleeing abusive employers since 2006.

In many critical areas, reforms have not gone far enough, nor has implementation been adequate, Human Rights Watch found. Workers in two labor camps that Human Rights Watch visited said that Labor Ministry inspectors had cited their employers years ago for serious and hazardous housing code violations but that the employers never took the required actions and the camps remained open.

The Labor Ministry allows workers to file grievances, most of them wage related, and mediates labor disputes. Yet abusive employers often refuse to settle and often ignore the ministry’s requests for meetings. According to data provided by the ministry, in 2009, 2010, and 2011, mediators resolved only 30 percent of complaints filed by migrant workers, compared with 60 percent of complaints filed by Bahraini workers.

When migrant workers file grievances, employers often retaliate by alleging that the worker committed theft or a similar crime, or “absconded” without permission, subjecting workers to potential detention, deportation, and bans on re-entry.

“If you go talk to the ministers and look at the law everything is perfect and nothing can’t be handled,” said Marietta Dias, from the Migrant Workers Protection Society, a local civil society group. “But when you go to the little guys [in the ministries], the guys that process everything, they either don’t have the authority to do anything or they haven’t been told the law.”

Lawyers told Human Rights Watch that courts often issue worker-friendly judgments, but that cases take between six months and a year to resolve and are subject to appeals. Migrant workers are legally unable to work and have no income during this time, and say they typically feel they have little choice but to accept an unfavorable out-of-court settlement.

Many migrants settle for plane tickets home and return of their passports, forgoing a sizable portion, sometimes all, of their back wages. Some workers said they had even paid former employers to return their passports and cancel their visas, allowing them to leave the country.

The case management system introduced in the new labor law is potentially helpful, Human Rights Watch said. It should streamline labor litigation and has the potential to strengthen the ability of migrant workers to seek redress in civil courts.

“Bahrain clearly seeks a reputation as a country with forward-looking migrant labor practices,” Stork said. “Authorities should start by addressing the culture of impunity for abuses against migrant workers that is the direct result of the lack of prosecution and enforcement of penalties under its laws.”

“For A Better Life: Migrant Worker Abuse in Bahrain and the Government Reform Agenda” is available at:

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Bahrain, please visit:

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[Statement] Deadly Denim: Workers Burned Alive Making Jeans for Export

Statement by International Labor Rights Forum

Deadly Denim: Workers Burned Alive Making Jeans for Export

You have ruthless buyers sitting in the U.S. who don’t care what you do, as long as you do it on time… We take a hit every time we’re late. That means lost margins. That means we do what we need to do to make our orders, fast. This factory owner may have been working extra shifts just for that purpose…
–Ali Ahmad, Owner of Nizam Textiles in Karachi, Pakistan1

In the aftermath of the deadly factory fires in Pakistan on September 11, 2012, Pakistani unions have called for the factory owner and local government officials to be held accountable. ILRF expresses our deep sorrow for the pain, suffering, and loss of life caused by the owner’s, the buyers’ and the government authorities’ unconscionable neglect. We stand in solidarity with the workers of Pakistan, and support the demands of the unions. We also call on the brands and retailers that together buy $11 billion of Pakistani apparel each year to take responsibility for making Pakistani factories safe for workers.

More than 300 trapped workers were killed in two separate fires on the same day—289 workers in an apparel factory in Karachi and 25 workers in a shoe factory in Lahore—a day Nasir Mansoor, leader of the National Trade Union Federation of Pakistan (NTUF)—calls the “darkest and saddest day in the history of Pakistan’s labor movement.”

The Karachi factory, Ali Enterprises, operated illegally, without proper registration. When fire broke out—reportedly for the fourth time within two years—more than 600 workers were trapped. The main sliding door was locked to protect the merchandise; windows were barred with iron grills; stairs and doorways were blocked with piles of finished merchandise; and there were no emergency exits. None of the workers had appointment letters and most of them were contract employees hired by a third party. As contract workers they were not entitled to social security or workers’ compensation. None of these workers had the security to voice their fears about the risky working conditions they found themselves in.

Mansoor’s union, NTUF, demands the arrest of the factory owner for murder, and the resignation of several government officials for severe negligence. NTUF also demands compensation for the families of deceased workers and for injured workers; inspections of all factories in coordination with worker-representative bodies; the registration of all factories under the Factory Act; the abolishment of the contract-workers system; the issuance of appointment letters to all workers; and the provision of social security, old-age benefits, and worker-welfare programs to all workers.

Buyers, too, are culpable for the deaths of the workers and must take responsibility for workplace safety. The recent fires in Karachi and Lahore were not the first garment factory fires in Pakistan, not even the first fire at Ali Enterprises. In fact, Mansoor notes that rarely a month goes by without an explosion, fire or structural collapse in Pakistan’s garment industry. However, when only one or two workers die on the job, these incidents go unreported. “These factories are chemical bombs, waiting to happen,” he says.

The conditions in the Karachi and Lahore factories were reportedly typical of garment factories in Pakistan, and the risk of fire is equally high in many other facilities. Alarmingly, apparel factory fires appear to be increasingly globalized. For many years, we heard mostly about fires in Bangladesh where more than 100 reported factory fires since 1990 have killed more than 750 workers. Now, fires in Pakistan are being reported, and just one day after the Pakistani fires, a fire in a Moscow sweatshop killed 14 Vietnamese immigrants who were trapped behind a door that was locked and barred with a sledgehammer from the outside.2

These fires are not the product of exceptional circumstances, isolated examples of especially greedy or negligent owners, or freak accidents that strike much like natural disasters with nobody responsible. The fires are the product of the failings of the global apparel industry. They are the logical result of the lethally low prices buyers offer the factories and the lightning-quick deliveries they require. When factory owners are squeezed by the buyers they are not going to invest in proper factories with functioning fire escapes and sprinkler systems and worker training on proper procedures in case of fires. On the contrary, they are going to rush to get orders done as cheaply as possible, no matter the cost to workers. If the buyers require compliance with labor and safety standards, the factories will find ways to create the impression of compliance because real compliance is not possible under the business terms they are given.

In the case of Ali Enterprises, the owner, one of the country’s major exporters of garments, was rushing to get an order ready in time for year-end shopping and was making his employees work overtime to avoid the high cost of air freight. The owner had reportedly obtained a fake certificate from an audit company to satisfy buyers abroad that the factory met required safety standards.3 Workers told The New York Times that managers had forced them to lie about working conditions to auditors representing foreign buyers. Do not complain or you will lose your job, they were told. This is typical in Pakistan, and typical in the global apparel industry.

The horror of this Pakistani fire is yet one more wake-up call for the brands and retailers that cheap products come at a steep price for workers—an unconscionably steep price. It is time for the brands to put workers’ lives ahead of brand image, and promote real solutions. The best model for real fire safety in the global apparel industry is one that has: independent factory inspections; freedom for workers to report on dangers in their own workplace and to have a voice in their workplace; a binding commitment from brands to work with suppliers to implement the program; and fair prices for factories so that they can invest in safety. So far only the Phillips-Van Heusen Corporation and the German retailer, Tchibo, have agreed to adopt such a program in Bangladesh. We call on all brands and retailers to sign on quickly and replicate the program in other countries.

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[Press Release] “New path of development” called for in counter-SONA -PM

“New path of development” called for in counter-SONA

Several thousand workers joined the counter-SONA protest yesterday to call for a “new path of development” and “alternative economics” as they insisted that poverty and unemployment has not been eradicated despite a decade of economic growth. “The anti-corruption campaign of President Aquino will not solve the problem of destitution and joblessness. The answer lies in taking a new path of development away from the Aquinomics of privatization, contractualization and globalization,” declared Renato Magtubo, Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) chairperon.

Some 1,000 members of PM  join the “March for Alternative Economics” together with the labor coalition Nagkaisa (United) and the multisectoral alliances Freedom from Debt Coalition and Kampanya para sa Makataong Pamumuhay (Campaign for a Humane Life). A total of 7,000 rallyists will march for “alternative economics” starting at 1:00 pm from the corner of Luzon and Commonwealth Avenues then proceed to the Batasang Pambansa.

“It is expected that PNoy will trumpet inclusive growth under his administration. But for workers and the poor, GNP growth only means increasing numbers of ‘Gutom Na Pilipino,’” Magtubo added.

Gerry Rivera, president of the Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA), said that “Even as PNoy garners the confidence of investors for the privatization projects under the Public-Private Partnerhip program, he has earned the ire of workers for his approval of outsourcing and contractualization at Philippine Airlines.”

Meanwhile PM echoed the criticism of the Reproductive Health Advocacy Network (RHAN) against President Aquino for omiiting the Reproductive Health bill among his government’s priority bills and the House of Representatives for its indifference and utter disregard to the plight of poor and working women.

“This is PNoy’s third SONA and women’s mortality rate has increased to 221 per 100,000 live births in 2011 from 162 per 100,000 live births in 2009. Besides the fact that the Philippines must lower the maternal mortality rate to 52 per 100,000 live births, the important matter is how the executive and legislative view women’s right to reproductive health care.” explained PM secretary-general Judy Ann Miranda.

“Regular job and living wages are needed not the conditional cash transfer which is a band-aid solution at best. From 2003-2009 the economy grew by an average of 4.8% but the number of poor Filipinos increased from 19.8 million to 23.1 million. Poverty will not be dented no matter how many cases are filed against former president Gloria Arroyo and how many of her minions are jailed together with ex-Comelec chief Benjamin Abalos,” Rivera stressed.

Magtubo reiterated that “Among the ASEAN nations, the Philippines have the most persistent incidence of poverty (defined as living on less than US$1.25 a day). The Philippines has the highest percentage of slum population as a percent of its urban population among six Asian countries” ###

Press Release
July 23, 2012
Partido ng Manggagawa
Contact Renato Magtubo @ 09178532905

[Press Release] Women workers launch kick-off march for International Women’s Day celebration -PM

Women workers launch kick-off march for International Women’s Day celebration

Women members of the Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA) joined by Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) held a rally at the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in Intramuros, Manila to assail the agency’s connivance in the suppression of women workers rights. The protesters will bring female paper dolls with the necks in a noose to highlight the plight of women workers under the present government.

Among the rallyists will be breadwinners, single mothers and widows who are all facing extreme difficulties as PALEA enters its sixth month of a lockout by the Lucio Tan-owned Philippine Airlines (PAL).

“This is our kickoff activity to celebrate March 8, International Women’s Day (IWD),” said Arlene Ladimo of PALEA Women’s Committee. “The DOLE twice affirmed the outsourcing plan of PAL despite its P3 billion profit belieing its claims of losses. After the mass layoff, now going on six months, we have been facing extreme difficulties i.e., sustaining the education of our children, food expenses, water and electricity bills, etc., etc. This is especially tough for us, women, who are single mothers, widows and breadwinners,” Ms. Ladimo explained.

“But, of course, despite the hardship, we will not give up. We will not give up our rights as workers and as women, we will never give up the future of our kids. We are not alone in this fight. We are well aware that we face the same situation together with millions of Filipino women–facing unemployment problems, high prices and lack of social services,” added Ms. Ladimo.

“Nakikiisa kami sa laban ng PALEA women gaya ng pakikiisa namin sa laban ng kababaihang manggagawa at maralita. In this year’s celebration of Women’s Day, our demands are ‘Trabaho para sa Kababaihan!,’ ‘Ibaba presyo ng pangunahing bilihin!’ and ‘Dagdagan ang badyet sa pampublikong serbisyo!,’” explained PM Secretary General Judy Ann Miranda.

After the rally, several of the PALEA members attended the hearing at the DOLE regarding their illegal suspension by Philippine Airlines for supporting the union picketline.

On Wednesday women members of PALEA and PM will join a march for economic and labor justice that will proceed from UST to Mendiola in Manila. On March 8, PALEA and PM will have another mass action to commemorate International Women’s Day as part of the global activities by women’s groups.

PALEA Women’s Committee
5 March 2012
Contact Judy Ann Miranda @ 09228677522


[Press Release] PALEA 300 moves for the dismissal of PAL harassment case

 The Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA) will move today for the dismissal of the case filed by the management of Philippine Airlines (PAL) for alleged violation of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines law arising from the September 27 protest at the Manila International Airport.

Hundreds of PALEA members also held a rally this afternoon at the Pasay Hall of Justice to coincide with the court hearing on what the union describes as a “harassment case” by PAL regarding supposed destruction of equipment during the airport protest.

“It behooves the court to dismiss this apparent harassment case because of a fatal flaw. PAL’s lawyers do not have any clearance from the Department of Labor and Employment in filing the case. Any complaint arising from a labor dispute requires such a clearance before civil courts can take jurisdiction,” asserted Gerry Rivera, PALEA president.

Last January 11, the 258 PALEA members who are respondents to the case, appeared at the Pasay regional trial court for the first hearing. The respondents are called PALEA 300 since PAL in previous press releases has claimed that some 300 PALEA members joined the September 27 protest. The next hearing is scheduled for February 9. In an allusion to the mythical Spartans, Rivera declared that “The respondents to the case, the PALEA 300 are brave men and women who will die fighting instead of surrendering to tyranny by PAL.”

He claimed that “PAL is blindly shooting nuisance cases at PALEA members in a desperate bid to force them to accept the separation package and sign up for the illegal labor contractors Sky Logistics and Sky Kitchen.”

Rivera asserts further that PAL services deteriorated sharply after September not because of damaged equipments but due to lack of skilled and experienced manpower after PALEA members, in opposition to outsourcing, refused to transfer to assigned service providers.

PALEA insists that PAL’s waning reputation and deteriorating quality service can only be saved by getting its regular workers back. Supporters of PALEA are calling for a boycott of PAL and its sister company Air Philippines until the laid off workers are reinstated to their regular jobs.

On Monday, hundreds of PALEA members will join retrenched flights attendants of PAL in a rally at the impeachment trial since the president of the Flight Attendants and Stewards Association is expected to testify for the prosecution. ###

Press Release
February 2, 2012
Contact Alnem Pretencio @ 09209543634

[From the web] Philippine Airlines is a Scrooge—international labor rights group – www.allvoices.com

Philippine Airlines is a Scrooge—international labor rights group
by Juan Manggagawa

A Washington DC-based international labor rights watchdog has included Philippine Airlines (PAL) in its list of worst companies for the year. PAL joins giant companies Dole, Wal-Mart and Hershey in the “Scrooge list” of the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) for the “use of intimidation and sometimes violence, in the U.S. and abroad, to violate workers’ internationally recognized right to organize.”

The Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) welcomed PAL’s description as a Scrooge “since Lucio Tan stole Christmas from some 2,400 employees and their families.” Renato Magtubo, PM chair, said that “PAL has been naughty not nice to its workers so Santa did not grant its wish of a profitable year.” PAL has announced that it will end the year with losses to due its failed outsourcing plan and high fuel prices.

In its report, ILRF explained that “Some of this year’s Scrooges, such as Dole and Wal-Mart, are repeat offenders—giant corporations that refuse to uphold their responsibility to their direct employees and to workers in their supply chains. Hershey receives Scrooge status for the first time—an accolade long overdue—as the chapter exposes an ongoing pattern of the company’s neglect of workers’ rights and refusal to be more accountable to workers in its supply chain. The case of Philippine Airlines illustrates an increasingly common trend among corporations, the flexibilization of work, and how when workers protest against outsourcing, they are locked-out and fired.”

“This holiday season corporate greed at PAL is shining through,” the ILRF report asserted. The group is supporting PALEA by calling on the public to boycott PAL and its sister low-cost carrier Air Philippines until the workers are reinstated to their regular jobs.

Read full article @ www.allvoices.com

[Press Release] PALEA gets backing of Occupy protesters

Just as truck drivers and longshore workers got the support of Occupy rallyists in the US, the Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) received the solidarity of Occupy protesters in Canada. Occupy Toronto activists together with Canadian airline unions held a solidarity action at the Toronto international airport last December 10. Last Tuesday various ports along the West Coast such as Oakland, Los Angeles and Portland were shutdown by community pickets of Occupy protesters with the support of port workers who refused to cross the picketlines. As is the practice in Occupy protests, the Toronto rally was called a “general assembly” and speeches were “echoed” by the participants.

The series of solidarity actions for PALEA continued with a picket at the Tokyo office of Philippine Airlines (PAL) by Japanese railway workers last December 12. On December 14 another rally was held at the Philippine consulate in Melbourne that was attended by PALEA vice president Alnem Pretencio, the head of the two million-strong Australian Council of Trade Unions Geraldine Kearney and leaders of the Australian Services Union which represents airline workers including Qantas, Maritime Union of Australia, Victorian Trades Hall Council and Australia Asia Worker Links.

Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and vice chair of the Partido ng Manggagawa, said that “We salute the Occupy shutdown of the West Coast ports to demand justice for truck drivers and longshore workers. The fight for better pay, job security and union rights is a common struggle of port workers, airline employees and workers around the world. PALEA stands shoulder to shoulder with Occupy protesters.”

The latest series of solidarity actions for PALEA is the second wave after earlier rallies staged in late October to early November in Washington DC, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, Tokyo and Hong Kong.

Renato Magtubo, chair of PM and co-chair of the Church-Labor Conference, declared that “The latest rallies in support of PALEA are a level up from earlier actions since the call for a boycott of Lucio Tan-owned PAL and Air Philippines are explicitly expressed. The widespread boycott campaign will hurt PAL since the regional flights to Australia and Japan, and the transpacific flights to the US are among its most profitable operations.” He added that “The fact that PAL is having a promo during the Christmas peak season belies its claims that its operations are back to normal.”

Rivera claimed that “The convergence between the youth-led Occupy protests and the workers struggles for wages, jobs and rights is a welcome development. Social change will come from the unity and action of the 99%.”

For a video of the Toronto action: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZV8lFtTCo7Q

For photos of the Melbourne action: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.283439828375106.80352.100001272721169&type=1&l=94715c3e50

For photos of the Tokyo action: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.282035501848872.80162.100001272721169&type=1&l=adb20681a6

Press Release
December 16, 2011
Contact Gerry Rivera @ 09157755073

[Press Release] PALEA gets support of Qantas workers, labor groups abroad

 The Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) received the support of a Qantas labor union in Australia even as other labor groups abroad are staging solidarity actions. Similar to PALEA, Qantas workers are embroiled in a long-running dispute with management over job security, pay hikes and working conditions. Qantas flights have been disrupted by a series of strikes by Qantas engineers, ground staff and pilots.

“International support will go a long way in sustaining and winning PALEA’s fight,” asserted Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and vice chair of Partido ng Manggagawa.

Last Friday, a delegation from UNITE HERE, a union of workers in the hotel, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, distribution, laundry, and airport industries in the US and Canada, delivered a letter of concern to the Philippine Embassy in Washington DC. The delegation of five from UNITE HERE met Luzviminda Padilla, a labor attaché, who indicated that the letter will be forwarded to Ambassador Jose Cuisia.

The main point raised by UNITE HERE in its letter is that the Philippine government may be in violation of internationally recognized conventions protecting workers freedom of association, right to collective bargaining and right to peaceful concerted actions including strikes. Also brought up by UNITE HERE is the concern that airline service is deteriorating and moreover passenger safety is put at risk by the untrained and overworked replacement workers who are now operating flights of Philippine Airlines (PAL), including the transpacific route which conveys many US nationals.

On October 27, members of labor unions and representatives of the Filipino-American community will picket the Philippine consulate and PAL ticketing office in San Francisco, California. The picket will be led by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers which represents PAL customer agents working in the San Francisco airport. Last October 14, a delegation of Japanese railway workers picketed the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo and also submitted a letter of concern regarding PALEA’s plight.

In its message of solidarity, the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA), which represents Qantas engineers, declared that “all ALAEA members stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with PALEA in their ongoing battle and will support them in their fight against unjust treatment. We will also fully support your efforts through the International Transport Workers Federation with the linking of all international affiliates backing your full reinstatement.”

This week PALEA will hold a “Lakbay-Hustisya” or a long march around Metro Manila in order to bring its advocacy against contractualization to the grassroots level. “We will go to parishes and communities in Manila, Quezon City, Makati, Paranaque and Pasay to seek the support of ordinary Filipinos in the fight for regular jobs,” Rivera explained.

Press Release
October 23, 2011
Contact Alnem Pretencio (PALEA VP) @ 09209543634
Bong Palad (PALEA Secretary) @ 09165740596

[Press Release] 99% endorse PALEA resolution at NAPC sectoral assembly

The basic sectors, the 99% of the Filipino people have spoken.  Contractualization as a policy was rejected and they want President Aquino to utilize his powers to cause the reinstatement of 2,600 regular employees locked out by PAL beginning October 1, 2011.

This was the unanimous sentiment of the different sectors that gathered at the National Anti-Poverty Commission’s (NAPC) National Sectoral Assembly held from October 17-19 at different venues in Quezon City.

The Kampanya para sa Makataong Pamumuhay (KAMP), a coalition of different sectoral and civil society organizations campaigning for a life of dignity for all, is one of the many groups that attended the sectoral assembly.  KAMP is pushing for the universalization of social protection policies such as decent housing, employment guarantees, healthcare, and other social protection measures for the poor and marginalized sectors.

KAMP coordinator Wilson Fortaleza, said a resolution, “expressing deep concern on the harmful consequence of outsourcing/contractualization schemes to the exercise of labor rights; and urging President Benigno S. Aquino III, with all his powers to intervene in labor-management disputes vital to national interest, to reinstate with full rights the 2,600 workers locked out by PAL on October 1, 2011”, was unanimously approved, first by the non-government organizations (NGO) sector and later by the women, youth and students, the elderly, and even the children sectors who gathered at the Great Eastern Hotel in Quezon City.

A similar resolution was also approved in the formal labor sectoral assembly held at another hotel where workers in the formal, informal, and migrant sectors were gathered.

“Now that the boss had spoken loud on this particular issue of contractualization and outsourcing in PAL, the ball is now on the hands of the President.  Either he is for the 99% or he is for the 1% represented by Mr. Lucio Tan,” said Fortaleza.

The “We are the 99%” slogan popularized by the “Occupy Wall St.” protesters, added Fortaleza, is also gaining interest from the basic sectors.

Created under Republic Act 8425, the NAPC institutionalizes the government’s Social Reform Agenda (SRAs), which aim is to strengthen and invigorate the partnership between the national government and the basic sectors.

Kampanya para sa Makataong Pamumuhay
20 October 2011
Contact:  Wilson Fortaleza
KAMP Coordinator

[Press Release] PALEA remains defiant, won’t give up protest camp

The Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA) remains defiant on its seventh day of protest outside the PAL’s Inflight Center near the Centennial Terminal II, saying it won’t give up the camp until they win back their regular jobs.

PALEA president Gerry Rivera said they have recieved reports that the PAL management had been requesting Palace officials and the Philippine National Police to break the picketline where PALEA members have been holding out since Tuesday last week.

Hindi namin ibibigay ang aming picketline.  Huwag nyo nang dagdagan ang napakarami nang paglabag sa aming karapatan.  Bagamat ayaw namin ditong magtagal, hindi naman namin hahayaang pati ito ay maagaw pa sa amin ni Lucio Tan,” said Rivera.

Rivera, who is also the vice president of Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), said the protest camp is a symbol of their continuing fight against the illegal lock out and contractualization.  The camp also serves as a solidarity camp where other trade union, human rights, church, NGOs, artists, and international solidarity groups express their solidarity to the PALEA struggle.

The camp also serves as a “school” during daytime where PALEA members discuss labor rights and other issues related to their struggle against outsourcing and contractualization. Professors from the University of the Philippines have signified to their willingness to discuss relevant issues such as globalization and why firms resort to outsourcing and contractualization.

Rivera said that after seven days of protest, the fighting spirit of every Palean’s remain fully charged in contrast to the depressing environment inside the PAL terminal.

The union leader believes that the union, the PAL management, and the government with some help from other important sectors in our society, can still come up with a just and reasonable solution to this impasse.

04 September 2011

Alnem Pretencio @ 09209543634
Bong Palad @ 09165740596

HR Post Weekend Rundown and Analysis 2 October 2011

Human Rights Online Philippines features articles, blogs, news information and photos on human rights issues. It provides up-to-date information on human rights activities, events, campaigns, and solidarity actions in the Philippines. It aims not only to put human rights at the center of national discourse through digital media but also to elicit response from the public.

This week has been news and activity-filled information based on different thematic issues, sectoral concerns and other crosscutting problems.

1.PALEA Strike

The PALEA strike hit the mainstream and online news more than the rage of typhoon Pedring.  The PALEA members conducted a sit-in protest to decry the impending plan of the PAL management for outsourcing and imminent displacement of regular PAL workers.

In support of the PALEA action to protect and respect the workers rights, HRonlinePH deemed it necessary to post statements, activities and events that dealt with this labor issue which is reflective of the existing unfair labor policies and practices in the country.

Posted articles:

[Statement] TFDP GA Statement of Support for PALEA
[Press Release] PAL outsourcing plan is economic sabotage – Akbayan
[Press Release] PALEA: PNoy should push PAL to open talks to resolve issue not threaten protesting workers
[Press Release] Current labor policies worse than martial law – labor groups
[Press Release] PALEA says protest continues, vows fight not over
[Statement] Pnoy Liable for PAL Labor Rights Violations – NGO-PO Network on ESC Rights
[Press Release] PALEA dismisses economic sabotage, illegal strike cases; announces big protest tomorrow
[Press Release] Don’t fly PAL! Oppose contractualization! –Sanlakas Youth
[Press Release] Church groups to hold solidarity forum on PALEA
[Press Release] PALEA slams PAL for employing scabs
[Press Release] PALEA marks 65th anniversary with vow to defeat PAL’ union busting scheme
[Press Release] PALEA: SC final decision on FASAP case bolsters petition vs. outsourcing
[Press Release] PALEA holds human chain protest as it claims employees have defied outsourcing plan

2.Martial Law

The 39th Anniversary of Martial Law also gained the spotlight of public interest for the past week as human rights groups and other sectors commemorated this event with discontent that after 39 years nothing has changed and even under the present administration of President Benigno Aquino III, human rights violations continue to happen under a prevailing climate impunity.

HRonlinePH deemed it necessary to post statements, news, historical trivia and events on Martial Law anniversary.

Posted articles:

[Statement] Never again to martial law! Continue to uphold, defend and advance our basic rights!- SANLAKAS
[Statement] Preservation and turn-over of ML documents, a step towards combating, and eventually ending, impunity – PAHRA
[Press Release] Civil Society to PNoy: Eradicate the shadows of Martial Law by releasing political prisoners and ending impunity
[Statement] Breaking Impunity will end the Legacy of Martial Law – AFAD
[Press Release] Civil Society to PNoy: Eradicate the shadows of Martial Law by releasing political prisoners and ending impunity
[Press Release] Youth group to conduct national truth campaign to remind people of Marcos atrocities
[Statement] Martial Law’s Remnants after 39 years
[Blogger] The Lesson of History – Carpe Diem

3. Mining

Mining related issues continue to elicit public concern not only on its direct impact to the affected community but also on its irreparable damage to environment.

Thus HRonlinePH deemed it necessary to post issues, events and statements that highlight the social-economic and evironmental impact of mining industries in the country.

Posted articles:

[Press Release] International and local experts lambast SMI consultants Say Tampakan mining project has high potential for loss of life and environmental damage – alyansatigilmina.net
[Featured Photos] Alyansa Tigil Mina in action
[Press Release] Greens ask: If DENR doesn’t, who will?

4. Socio- economic insecurity

The country has been experiencing insecurity in almost all aspects of social life particularly on the guarantee of the standard of living. The deregulated oil prices have not only affected the transport sector but even the ordinary households as it affects the prices of the basic commodities and reduces basic social services.

HRonlinePH deemed it necessary to post issues, events, and statements that assert the people’s basic economic and social rights.

Posted articles:
[Event] I Blackout against power hike!
[Featured Photos] Community staged picket against power rates hike – FDC
[Event] Protest rally to smash light-bulbs on NAPOCOR SEAL – SANLAKAS
[Press Release] CWS supports the people’s protest vs. oil price increases
[Press Release] Which is worse? The inability to paralyze transport or government inaction to the pleas of the people? – PMT

5.Civil and political rights

The rights to life and freedom are inherent and non-derogable rights. The Philippine Constitution guarantees our Bills of Rights but unfortunately succeeding governments since the Marcos regime have disregarded these rights in the name of peace and security.

Thus, HRonlinePH deemed it necessary to post issues, opinions, news and events which show the curtailment and repression of civil and political rights of the people in asserting their social and economic rights.

Posted articles:

[Urgent Appeal] Torture in the Philippines & the unfulfilled promise of the 1987 Constitution
[From the web] A unique regional initiative: The Asian Alliance against Torture and Ill-Treatment
[Events] Manindigan para sa Kapayapaan – Peace Month Celebration

6. Gender rights and issues

Recognizing the individual sexual orientation and gender rights is not only a recognition of individual right of choice but also of the basic human existence. Until now, individual is continuously discriminated, despised and violated for being different and for asserting their own identity.

HRonlinePH deemed it necessary to post news and events concerning the LGBTs.

Posted articles:

[Statement] Statement of the Philippine LGBT Hate Crime Watch concerning the position of President Aquino on LGBT Rights
[Announcement] Advocacy shirts from the Youth and Students Advancing Gender Equality

7. Celebrating Life

Remembering those people who sacrificed their lives so that freedom and democracy live in this country is one form of the celebration of life.

HRonlinePH deemed it necessary to post news, events and statements that show that while our life is still not easy and our aspiration remains a dream, there are always reasons to celebrate. So Let’s Party!

Posted articles:

[Event] Rock for Peace – Dakila
[Event] Bente Singko: A Festival of Memories, A Creation of New Stories – http://www.tfdp.net
[Trivia] Lean Alejandro (July 10, 1960 — September 19, 1987)

[From the web] Lucio Tan’s crackdown on PALEA shames nation – www.fdc.ph

Lucio Tan’s crackdown on PALEA shames nation
Source: www.fdc.ph

The Freedom from Debt Coalition expresses its strongest solidarity with the 2,600 members of Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA) in their fight for their human dignity, job security and union rights.

We condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the crackdown of Lucio Tan and his PAL management on the entire rank-and-file employees of the company and the forced implementation of the contractualization scheme, thus massively debasing and crippling the union.

Lucio Tan and his PAL management’s refusal to wait for the Court of Appeals’ ruling on the contractualization scheme and to continue negotiating with PALEA have shown that they do not respect the rights of the workers who have long been serving the company as regular workers, that they are determined to bust the workers’ union, and that they do not care at all for the welfare of the workers and their families.

In contrast to the greed shown by Lucio Tan and his management team, the workers of PAL and PALEA members have unmistakably shown their patriotism and loyalty to the company by agreeing to a 10-year (1998-2008) suspension of their collective bargaining negotiation rights so that a Philippine institution like PAL can recover and rehabilitate. Unfortunately in 2009, Lucio Tan and his PAL management’s answer to the efforts of PALEA to resume the collective bargaining negotiations was a contractualization/outsourcing scheme coupled with union-busting. PAL plans to close down three departments — call center reservations, in-flight catering and airport services — and to outsource its services by the end of the week.

The crackdown at PAL also shames the entire nation.  Although privatized, PAL retains the tag of being the nation’s flag carrier, the nation’s symbol in the sky, its representative in global aviation.  Many Filipinos take pride in the excellent ability of its pilots and ground crew to provide safe and comfortable air travel and to respond effectively during emergencies and unexpected mishaps.  Now, its identity with our people is being smeared by a bare-faced and shameless oppression of its workers and open disregard for their established rights, especially the right to dignified work and self-organization – all in the name of profit.

This fact is conveniently forgotten by those who experience inconvenience caused by flight delays.  What is a few hours of inconvenience compared to years of having no jobs and source of regular income for 2,600 Filipinos and their families if they lose this fight?

That Lucio Tan and his PAL management can get the unqualified support of Malacañang and its Labor Department shows the extent to which big business and government are of one mind in putting aside the rights of labor just to promote all kinds of schemes like contractualization and privatization to shore up big business, especially in these times of global and national economic crises.

President Aquino’s threat to sue PALEA for economic sabotage has only deepened the wounds inflicted on the PAL’s workers. It has only shown how shallow his appreciation of the situation, if not, his bias in favor of big business.

Let us support PALEA in their fight for their rights. Ang laban ng PALEA ay laban nating lahat.

President, Freedom from Debt Coalition

[Press Release] Current labor policies worse than martial law – labor groups

Organized labor groups under the Church Labor Conference (CLC) and the Koalisyon Laban sa Kontraktwalisasyon (Kontra) trooped to the historic Mendiola bridge on the eve of the country’s commemoration of its dark days under martial rule.

But more than keeping the fire of  the famous “Never Again” call, workers came to denounce the present government under P-Noy, for perpetuating  labor policies that are worse than martial law.

“During the time of Mr. Marcos, labor is not allowed to express itself freely because rights were suspended.  Today, these freedoms to express and organize ourselves into union, collectively bargain with our employers, and get involved in concerted actions , remain dead,” said Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) chair and CLC co-chair Renato Magtubo.

Magtubo explained that in fact by comparison, many unions have actually survived the dark days of martial law than under this era of globalization, citing the case of the Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA) which by coincidence is  going to celebrate its 65th anniversary tomorrow.  PALEA was formed in September 21, 1946.

“But after tomorrow, PALEA will be pushed into the brink of extinction if Lucio Tan succeeds  in making the Philippine Airlines the flag carrier of P-Noy’s labor contractualization policy,”  added Magtubo.

Under PAL’s outsourcing plan, more than 2,600 members of PALEA, including 70% of its officers,  shall be terminated and rehired as contractuals by third party service providers.   In effect, the outsourcing plan is union-busting hiding under the guise of company restructuring as claimed by PALEA.

Magtubo stressed further that, “By freeing the employers’ unlimited exercise of management prerogative which was affirmed recently by P-Noy in the case of PAL,  workers have effectively lost all the rights to express and defend themselves since they can now be fired at will by their employers.  And this is worse than martial law.”

Another example, Magtubo said,  is the case of Dusit Hotel workers who were fired at will by the management  after they cut off their hairs in a show of protest  against management policies.    Magtubo said the government did nothing to defend the rights of these workers.

The case of Hanjin workers  in Subic is another.  Some 21,000 workers in this giant shipyard work as contractuals.  They live in a very poor working conditions as manifested in many incidents of work-related deaths.  Yet the government lifts no finger in ending this gross violations of labor rights in the shipyard and in all  export zones (EPZAs) in the country.

“ Labor is not happy with this situation.  Unfortunately,  the little space left where we can express ourselves is also becoming useless since like Marcos, nobody in Malacanang cares to listen or take the side of labor, ” concluded Magtubo.

The groups said, however, that martial-law like represssion only strengthen the unity of labor and prepares them to embark on  collective struggles against common enemies such as the plague of contractualization and even for a political battle against a pro-capitalist government.

Partido ng Manggagawa
20 September 2011

[Press Release] Archbishop Lagdameo summons the Church to side with the oppressed – CWC

On his address to the delegates of the CWS National Conference,
Archbishop Lagdameo summons the Church to side with the oppressed

The Church must not stay in the sidelines in the fight for justice.”

From Pope Benedict XVI, the above quote was emphasized by outgoing CBCP President Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, D.D., in his keynote address to the delegates of the first plenary session of the Church People-Workers Solidarity National Conference in Cebu City.

Speaking before 800 church people and workers, Lagdameo recognized the extreme injustice and oppression experienced by the workers throughout history and averred a saying, “[i]f we are neutral in a situation of injustice, then we choose to side with the oppressors.”

Lagdameo’s message focused on the development of the Church’s social teachings which dates back to 1891 with Pope Leo XII’s Rerum Navarum, a seminal encyclical on Labor and Capital, up to Pope John Paul II’s Laborem Exercens published in 1981. The said encyclicals, which Lagdameo stressed must be lived out by the Church, underlines the modern Catholic principle of “preferential option for the poor,” and affirms the “primacy of labor over capital.”

“[These are the] Catholic Church’s best kept teachings [which are] rarely taught on pulpits and talked about in Church circles….[The Church must]  reclaim its tradition [for this is the] bench mark for the living out of our faith in this world,” Lagdameo furthered.

Sr. Emelina Villegas, ICM, Board President of labor NGO, Center for Trade Union and Human Rights, was pleased with the address. She said, “I am glad because the Archbishop presented the history of the encyclicals in a developmental manner – how the Church is adapting and responding to the changing issues that confront society. Although still reactive, the Church is somehow able to cope with our changing reality. With this, my hopes are renewed and I can see that concrete action will result from this [conference].”

“No room for neutrality”

Kilusang  Mayo Uno National Chairperson, Elmer Labog, agreed with the Archbishop’s message that the Church must not be neutral when there is injustice, “In these times when connivance between capitalists and the government is ever inflicting more suffering to workers and the poor, there is no room for neutrality [for the Church]. Because if the Church will be neutral, then the workers have no one else to run to and the Church might be more easily swayed by reactionary forces.”

Valid and just calls

Former Anakpawis Partylist Representative Joel Maglunsod who also attended the conference said that learning about the Church teachings on the value of labor and human work puts Anakpawis in a high moral ground to further their calls and legislative agenda for just remuneration, security of tenure, and protection of workers’ rights and freedoms. Maglunsod noted, “The teachings of the Church only validates that the proposed bills of Anakpawis are just and legitimate in the same way that these bills were aligned with International Covenants and the 1986 Constitution.”

Why only now?

Lagdameo noted why it took decades before the Church is actually talking and doing something about its encyclicals. He explained that the canons of the Church is continuously developing and changing as society change. And while the issue of work and labor appears to be a very important concern, there are also new issues confronting society which the Church still lack knowledge of and social teachings about. These concerns include the issue of women, ecology, and the Eurocentric framework of the Church.

For his part, Labog said that it is always better late than never and the move of the Church to reach out to the workers is still a welcome development. “We hope that this conference will result to concrete steps that will truly help the workers in organizing and forming unions. Forming church people-worker groups in economic zones in Mactan, Cavite, Mindanao and some parts of Central Luzon will be of utmost help as workers in these areas experience severe exploitation and oppression.###

Reference: Roxanne Omega Doron, Media Liaison CWS, cws.cebu@yahoo.com, churchpeople.workers.solidarity@gmail.com, 09217862022.

[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

[Letter to the Editor] Reaction to DTI’s opposition to two labor legislation – CTUHR

Does the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) opposition to pro-labor legislations reflect the Aquino administration’s policy on labor rights?

This question immediately came to mind after the DTI expressed its unabashed opposition to two labor rights legislations (August 8, 2011 news) pending in the House of Representatives particularly the P125 wage hike and the security of tenure bills. Such measures, according to DTI Sec. Domingo, will discourage investors from investing in the country.

If Sec. Domingo is someone from the employers’ group, I would not waste a minute to complain against such naked anti-workers rights’ pronouncement, simply because employers had been opposing the P125 wage hike bill for 10 years now. Employers’ position is not surprising at all, though hardly understandable.  But Sec. Domingo is in the government that promised to uplift the poor from poverty and there was simply no trace of such commitment in his stance.

Needless to say, the twin bills when approved can fulfill two things: When passed, first, it will be an important legacy of the Aquino administration particularly to 38 M estimated labour force and could possibly regain support from this huge part of population. Second, it can stem the impact of series of oil price hikes even if the P125 wage hike will still be insufficient to bridge the gap between the P988 daily cost of living and the measly P426 minimum wage.  The increased flexibilization of production and contractualization of labor that the security of tenure bill wants to stop, will somehow return to the Filipino workers their right to secure jobs and dignity, instead of just bloating the profits for investors.

The way this government is going, it is becoming clear that it is not heading the direction where workers and the poor will be happy. Despite staunch criticisms from labor groups for example, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Malacañang remained mum on DTI’s pronouncement while the latter upheld the outsourcing of PAL ground operations, that will dismiss 2600 regular employees by end September.

What is more alarming, is the allies of  Aquino administration’s calculated move in the House of Representatives  to change the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution to relax provisions that currently limit foreign investments and land ownership in the country,  in the name of ‘economic growth.’

This bias towards foreign investments—not only of the DTI, but the entire Aquino administration—bodes ill for the rights and interests of the working class. It has long been proven in our country’s decades of experience of implementation of neoliberal economic policies that export-oriented growth for instance failed miserably to radically cut the country’s poverty and perennial unemployment. When will the Government learn from the lessons of the past that so called economic growth anchored on depressing workers’ wages and security of tenure is a meaningless growth?  Malacañang could very well start now by supporting these labour rights bills pending at the lower house.

Daisy Arago
Executive Director
Center for Trade Union and Human Rights

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