Thursday, April 26, 2018

Workers unite for Labor Day rally vs ‘endo’

Members of the labor coalition Nagkakaisa hold up fists with construction nails to symbolize the government’s ‘pangakong napako’ or unfulfilled promise of issuing an order ending contractualization.
Edd Gumban
MANILA, Philippines — Fired up after being left out in the cold by President Duterte, labor organizations previously at odds have bonded together to prepare for a major indignation rally on May 1.

In a joint press conference yesterday, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) chairman Elmer Labog said the workers are “angry” over Duterte’s failure to sign an executive order that would end job contractualization.

“The growing frustration, disappointment and disenchantment of workers over President Duterte’s failure to fulfill his promise have only bonded workers. We will march as one on Labor Day in a historic first for the Philippine labor movement,” Labog said.

He said the workers will turn the Labor Day celebration into an indignation rally to show their solidarity against contractualization.

Labor groups are up in arms after Duterte’s refusal to sign an EO that will end the practice of contractualization by employers.

Instead of an EO, the President will certify as priority the Security of Tenure bill pending in Congress.

Nagkakaisa labor coalition chairman Michael Mendoza said Duterte gave them false hope that workers would finally be liberated from inhumane employment practices.

“The problem is the President did not even ask for our opinion. We gave five versions of the EO but he did not even talk to us. We were made to wait for two years for nothing,” he said.

The KMU and the Nagkakaisa, which represent the broadest labor coalition since 1980s, have called on workers “of all shapes and sizes” to join the rally.

Sentro secretary-general Joshua Mata reminded Duterte that the working class voted for him in the 2016 presidential race because of his promise to stop contractualization.
“On Labor Day, Malacañang will feel the backlash of the workers. We will show our anger over what happened. Our hope became an empty promise,” he said.

Mata said aside from the need to contend with contractualization practices, workers now also have to endure inadequate wages and the rising prices of commodities and services because of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law initiated by the Duterte administration.

Meanwhile, an opposition lawmaker urged President Duterte yesterday to shelve his Charter change (Cha-cha) initiative and instead work on creating more jobs and fighting inflation or the increase in consumer prices.

Rep. Tom Villarin of party-list group Akbayan made the appeal in the wake of the first quarter Pulse Asia survey showing people were more concerned with jobs and inflation than with Cha-cha or the effort to revise the Constitution to shift the nation to the federal system.

“The Duterte administration should put Cha-cha in the back burner and focus on people’s needs and wants, not its own power agenda,” he said.

He said the people’s concerns as expressed in the survey should prompt the President “to fulfill his promise to end endo (end of contract).”

“While the ABC crowd sees the administration’s anti-crime campaign as a priority, the vast majority of the poor D and E classes don’t see it as such,” he said.

He added that the President and his congressional allies should genuinely work to help people cope with rising prices and to have jobs and decent wages.

While jobs, wages and inflation were the top issues in people’s minds in the Pulse Asia survey, issues that included Cha-cha were the least of their concerns.

The monthly increases in consumer prices were blamed largely on the tax reform law, officially labeled as TRAIN.

According to Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, the price hikes were caused by new and higher taxes the law has imposed starting in January. – Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - April 26, 2018

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Labor group wary of RTWPB-XI motu proprio wage review

The labor coalition NAGKAISA-Davao cautions workers on the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board-Region XI’s initiative to review and possibly raise the region’s minimum wage. “As in the past wage orders, the RTWPB-XI’s evaluation is most likely to end up giving loose change to workers,” said Sofriano “Ka Ondo” Mataro, spokesperson of Nagkaisa-Davao and regional head of ALU-TUCP.

TUCP has petitioned the regional wage board for a P104.00 across-the-board increase but the latter said that it has already initiated a motu proprio review of the existing minimum wage in the region in its meeting on January 17, 2018.

“We doubt that the wage review of RTWPB-XI is not prompted by DOLE Secretary Bello, who seems to be working in cahoots with the employers on the issue of contractualization. If not with TUCP’s petition in late March, we would not know that the regional wage board has taken the initiative to take a look at workers’ wages since January”, stated Joel Bañas, spokesperson and Chairperson of SENTRO Davao.

He further explained, “It’s already three months now and no labor group have been consulted and no public hearings were called to discuss the matter. If the regional wage board is talking to some groups, it is not the workers but the employers. Is the right of workers to be heard doesn’t matter nowadays?”

“Agravante said that the wage board has undertaken studies on the region’s economic conditions including the effects of the TRAIN Law, where are the results of these much-vaunted studies? What are its findings?” asks Remy Torres, spokesperson of Partido ng Manggagawa (PM).

Remy Torres is referring to Raymundo Agravante, chairperson of RTWPB-XI and the regional director of the Department of Labor and Employment-Region XI.

“We need to raise workmen’s wages. The P104.00 petition of TUCP is not even enough to recover the lost purchasing power of the regional wage which is P132.70”, asserted Ka Ondo, spokesperson of the group and a convenor of Nagkaisa-Davao.

According to the website of NWPC (National Wages and Productivity Commission), the real value of the region’s minmum wage of P340.00 is a measly P207.30. ” And these figures are as of February 9, 2018. The impact of the excise and value-added taxes under the TRAIN Law is still not factored in”, he added.

The labor coalition alleged that workers are staggering from the effects of the TRAIN Law which inflated prices of basic commodities. The Philippine Statistics Authority confirmed this in an announcement recently that inflation in March 2018 surged to 4.3%.

The law lists ten criteria on which the wage board would base its decision in fixing wages. Among them were the rise in the cost of living, the purchasing power of the peso and workers’ demand for a raise. But Joel Bañas of SENTRO Davao claims, “Since its creation thirty years ago, the regional wage boards has only one consideration on issuing wage orders, which is the employers’ capacity to pay, forsaking the workers’ capacity to buy.”

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Labor hesitant about Palace Meeting sans knowledge of final EO version

“We are not sure if we will go to the meeting with the President as we don’t know which version of the Executive Order (EO) Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III is once again peddling,” Nagkaisa Labor Coalition said in a hastily called press conference following reports of a much delayed meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte happening in mid-April.

President Duterte, in a meeting with labor leaders on February 27, promised that he and his legal team will look into the workers’ draft EO submitted jointly by Nagkaisa and Kilusang Mayo Uno with the support of the National Anti-Poverty Commission. He promised to sign the issuance by March 15, to no avail.

“The truth is, the Secretary has been obstructing our efforts these past few years. He has been misleading the president and has been fooling the public by twisting labor’s position and making it appear we are unreasonable,” Nagkaisa said.

“The workers’ draft has moved from total prohibition of contractualization to a framework of prohibition of contractualization that would allow certain exemptions for contracting out of work, but subject to the decision of the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council.” Nagkaisa added.

“We abhor the abuse and exploitation of workers through contractualization as it has become the convenient excuse of unscrupulous employers and manpower agencies and pseudo cooperatives to pay low wages, disregard social protection, bust unions and fire workers at will. We believed the President share these abhorrence with irresponsible employers,” Nagkaisa added.

Nagkaisa calls on government to decide where its policy on addressing contractualization stands. “Is it for more profits to employers at the expense of workers’ rights and welfare; or adhering to state guarantees of providing full protection to workers’ rights and welfare that would bring about sustainable growth to the economy?”

“Secretary Bello shamelessly foisted that labor is calling for the total prohibition of contractualization and deliberately misled the public and the President that workers are hardlining and demanding the impossible. He obstructed and derailed the democratic processing of an EO,” Nagkaisa added.

“He has acted beyond the pale and has shown to what depths he will unconscionably betray his sworn trust and the public interest. He must now disclose what this purported April 16 EO contains. It is something we have never seen,” said Nagkaisa.

Nagkaisa only learned about a supposed new round of meetings in Malacañang via news reports as no official invitations and meeting agenda have been received by any labor group.