Thursday, April 10, 2014

Nagkaisa Labor Groups’ Labor Day Demands Are Now in Aquino’s Hands

The eight workers’ issues and non-wage benefits raised by labor group
coalition Nagkaisa since May 2012 are now in the hands of President
Aquino to act on following a last minute series of meetings with
members of his cabinet with the representatives of the group on

Final details of the issues were threshed out in meetings that took
place on April 8 with the secretaries of the Department of Labor and
Employment (DOLE), Department of Justice (DOJ), and Department of
Trade and Industry (DTI), and on the following day with the Department
of Energy (DOE), said Alan Tanjusay, spokesman of the Trade Union
Congress of the Philippines (TUCP).

“After more than 100 man hours of discussions with different
government staffs, undersecretaries and secretaries within the two
year period, we think it is more than fair enough to say that the ball
is in the hands of President Aquino. These issues are now on his
table,” said Gerard Seno, executive vice president of the Associated
Labor Unions-TUCP and a convenor of Nagkaisa.

The issues that were finalized by the Nagkaisa and the cabinet level
are for government to (1) ensure security of tenure of workers by
eliminating contractualization scheme and deter extra-judicial killing
of union organizers and journalists, (2) provide exemption and
enhancement on minimum wage taxation, (3) institutionalize core labor
standards in the agro-industrial plan, (4) lowering of the cost of
electricity and protect consumers from the cartelization of power, (5)
provide affordable housing program and non-violent transfer of urban
poor communities from danger zones, (7) ratification of ILO Convention
151–a convention concerning protection of the right to organize and
procedures for determining conditions for employment in the government
service, and (8) ensure a jobs-led and workers’ sector participation
in the planning and implementation of programs of the rehabilitation
and reconstruction of Yolanda-hit areas.

The group also expects Aquino to make an unequivocal commitment to his
promised regular dialogue with Nagkaisa on emergent issues affecting
the working class.

Labor groups in Nagkaisa were always dismayed at Aquino’s alleged
disconnect with workers’ issues raised by Nagkaisa every time he meets
with labor group representatives in the traditional labor day
breakfast since 2010 in Malacanang palace.

“If we want to emphasize how important these issues are to labor
groups in Nagkaisa, well, we have expended substantial amount of
unions’ financial and manpower resources for these meetings to
enlighten executives the need for government to address these issues
that endangers Filipino workers and their families today. As
representatives of workers, we have done our part in transmitting
these concerns to the administration. We will now observe very closely
how the president will respond to these issues and how he treats the
working people on or before May 1 Labor day,” said Frank Mero,
chairperson of Sentro.

However, the group emphasized Nagkaisa will proceed with their Labor
day activities regardless of Aquino’s response.

“With or without President Aquino’s imprimatur on these issues,
Nagkaisa labor groups will go on with our May 1 Labor day simultaneous
activities nationwide. President Aquino may chose or not chose to
favorably or unfavorably respond to some or to all issues we have
raised to his attention, he has that choice. But Nagkaisa will pursue
resolution of the issues at will whatever the cost and in any possible
way because these issues are legitimate and important for workers,”
added Wilson Fortaleza, spokesman of the Partido Manggagawa.

Aside from ALU, Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), PM and
Sentro, there are 47 other member labor federation and workers’
organizations in Nagkaisa. It was established in April 2011, the other
members of Nagkaisa includes Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP),
Federation of Free Workers (FFW), Public Services Labor Independent
Confederation (PSLINK), Philippine Government Empoyees Association
(PGEA), Confederation of Independent Unions (CIU) and KAMAO.

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