Saturday, June 20, 2020

Labor Group: the Philippines once again joins the hall of shame for trade union repression

The dreaded Terror Bill has yet to be a law, and yet, once again, the country was ranked as one of the top 10 worst countries in the world for working people, particularly for trade unionists.

The Philippines has been on the top 10 list of the ITUC Global Rights Index for several years now. Other countries included Bangladesh, Brazil Colombia, Kazakhstan, Turkey and Zimbabwe. Joining the top 10 list for the time are Egypt, Honduras and India.

Validated reports on red-tagging, criminalization of trade unionists and murder of trade union leaders in 2019 were cited by the ITUC as evidences of continuing trade repression in the country.

The murders of Dennis Sequeña, a PM organizer in Cavite, as well as Reynaldo Malaborbor of February Six Movement, were cited in the report. Justice have yet to be served in both cases.

As of the end of 2019, 45 trade union and peasant leaders have been murdered since DU30 came to power. This was done with impunity since none of these murders were ever solved.

Meanwhile, the PNP stepped up its red-tagging when it started setting up JIPCOs or Joint Industrial Peace Concerns Office in export processing zones (EPZs) to harass and discriminate workers who organize unions in the pretext of preventing infiltration of radical union in said zones.

Truth is, there are very few unions inside EPZs. Apparently the PNP wants to eliminate them altogether.

It was for this reason that the ILO Committee on Application of Standards (CAS), requested the Philippine government last June 2019 to invite a tripartite high-level mission to validate these claims. The High Level Mission is one of the most powerful instruments used by the ILO in addressing allegations of trade union repression.

Unfortunately, DOLE deferred issuing such invitation. Early this year, the DOLE merely issued a memorandum instructing it’s senior officials to prepare for the ILO High Level Mission.

With the world now in its worst economic recession in 150 years, many are expecting that things could get worst for trade unionists. Using the pandemic as a pretext, a number of countries are issuing policies that undermines workers and trade union rights.

Similarly, the DOLE issued policies like Labor Advisory 17 and DO 213 that severely undermined workers and trade union rights.

Things will certainly turn to worst should the Terror Bill becomes a law. Undoubtedly, the Terror Bill will put PH on top of list with ecozones converted into JIPCO detachments.

NAGKAISA reiterates its demand to stop the killings and calls on government to seriously investigate and go after the murderers of Dennis Sequeña and other trade unionists.

Of equal importance, Nagkaisa is calling for the rescinding anti-labor policies issued by the DOLE. It is also calling on DU30 to veto the Terror Bill.

The ITUC Global Index was released yesterday in Brussels, Belgium. Three of the 4 affiliates of the ITUC in the Philippines - FFW, SENTRO and TUCP - belong to Nagkaisa.

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