Thursday, July 30, 2020

NAGKAISA Welcomes Tripartite Recommendations Rescinding Labor Advisory No. 17; Amending D.O. 213

The Guidelines on Employment Preservation Upon Assumption of Business Operations under Labor Advisory No. 17, Series of 2020, or Labor Advisory No 17 (LA) was unanimously recommended to be rescinded by both the employers' and workers ' groups and accepted by DOLE as a tripartite in yesterday's National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council (NTIPC).

D.O. 213 Prescribing Guidelines on the Prescription of Actions and the Suspension of Reglementary Period to file Pleadings, Motions and Other Documents were also recommended to be amended.

NAGKAISA! Labor Coalition upon its issuance of LA 17 and D.O 213 in May 2020 objected to their implementation as the issuances would further exploit workers who are already starving under ECQ.

LA 17 includes Section 5 that allows employers and employees to “agree voluntarily and in writing to temporarily adjust employees’ wage and wage-related benefits.”

D.O. 213 suspended labor proceedings including health and safety inspections before the DOLE and its bureaus and regional offices.

Nagkaisa has been holding that this LA 17 and D.O. 213 are contrary to existing law and jurisprudence and highly disadvantageous to workers. D.O. 213 as if paralysis DOLE inspectorate power at the time that its action is most needed in time of COVID-19 pandemic.

Coming from a long ECQ, during its implementation in the past months, workers, especially those who are unorganized, have no option except to follow the wishes of their employers alluded to in LA 17. Many unscrupulous employers had simply threaten workers with dismissals or company closures if they don’t “voluntarily” agree to rollback their wages and other wage-related benefits.

Further, LA 17 was used to further contractualized the workplace and resulted to to the dismissal of regular workers in the name of flexible working arrangement.

And NAGKAISA had been asserting that it would be difficult to reinstate the previous wage levels enjoyed by workers as the same offensive Section 5 allows employers to “review their agreement and may renew the same” after six months.

NAGKAISA has been calling the DOLE to rescind LA 17 as it has been giving employers a blank check to roll back the gains made by the unions and even pay their workers starvation wages!

The broadest labor Coalition argued that the state must never allow itself to become a party to employers' latest trick to shortchange their workers.

D.O. 213 was also recommended to be amended to resume DOLE visitorial and inspectorate power as a number of employers don't comply with labor standards as well as health and safety as workers grapple with the difficulties and hardships brought by the pandemic.

In a tripartite meeting this yesterday afternoon, NAGKAISA workers' representatives in the NTIPC called again to immediately rescind the Labor Advisory 17 and amend D.O. 213.

There was a tripartite consensus to do away with LA 17 and to amend D.O. 213 and the Office of the Secretary of Labor will issue a new advisory rescinding and an amended Department Order to modify the controversial LA and the subject D.O., respectively.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Filipinos need solutions to health and economic crisis, not death by any means

The lack of formidable healthcare and decisive economic recovery plan will surely lead us to death, if not thru Covid-19, then by hunger. And if you rise to complain, maybe thru the anti-terrorism law or under the revived death penalty law as proposed by the President in yesterday’s State of the Nation Address.

Death penalty is the least that people should hear at the time they were facing real death and hunger in this time of the pandemic.

What we need are solid guarantees to our constitutional rights. What the country urgently needs are laws and measures that would address joblessness, loss of incomes and economic recession.

A death penalty imposed in the manner law enforcers disrespect human rights even during a mass inside the Quiapo Church is something to worry about as justice, we believe, is better served with fairness and compassion rather than by coercion.

If the President and his minions are still clueless on how we can get out of the current pandemic and ensuing economic crisis that we have right now, then they should not threaten the people further with more acts of killing. This nation needs more signs of life, not more death on the horizon.

The economy likewise needs a new breath of life not from the failed free market but from the state itself. The Bayanihan 2, with its measly fund of less than P200 billion, is clearly inadequate to weather the worst economic recession that we and the whole world are facing.

This glaring lack of a bold yet feasible plan, we are afraid, will surely lead us to more deaths. And that is criminal neglect on the part of the government itself. Now, who wants death imposed upon himself?

Finally, pursuing a better normal under a whole nation approach will never be possible with the government imposing restrictions to union’s democratic participation in governance, which to us, is the worst form of social distancing.

Friday, July 24, 2020

NAGKAISA condemns the latest attempt of the government to thwart the people’s constitutional right to freedom of expression and assembly

NAGKAISA reminds the Duterte government that no law prevents the people from exercising its constitutional rights.

An IATF resolution is not a law. It can never contravene the constitution.

As such, NAGKAISA, is more determined to mobilize its members to join SONAgKAISA and register the working people’s deepening disgust to the government’s criminal neglect of the people’s welfare especially in the time of the pandemic.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Workers groups file petition vs Terror Act at Supreme Court

Workers’ groups led by the Nagkaisa Labor Coalition and Kilusang Mayo Uno filed today a petition at the Supreme Court seeking to stop the implementation of the just enacted Republic Act 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act for being inimical to workers’ interests and for being unconstitutional.

They filed a “Certiorari and Prohibition, with Urgent Application for the Issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order and Writ of Preliminary Injunction,” with the Office of the President, Senate of the Philippines, and House of Representatives a respondents, for committing “grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or in excess of jurisdiction in passing into law the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.”

“The greatest concern is that the unrestrained power given to the executive department by the assailed law would be an instrument to terrorize the ordinary citizens who are not terrorists -- or be used to aggravate the situation of those who are already victims of terrorism,” said Atty Sonny Matula, chaiperson of Nagkaisa, president of the Federation of Free Workers (FFW) and lead counsel for the petitioners.

Matula said that there are provisions that infringed on the people’s constitutional rights to due process and seriously threaten and cause a chilling effect on the people’s exercise of their freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom of association, right to peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances specifically among the ranks of the workers.

The petition noted that law enforcers have been harsh with the workers and security forces are actively involved in the suppression of union organizing as if unionism is still a criminal act as in the Spanish colonial times.

Early this year, Nagkaisa and KMU have already called on Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello and President Rodrigo Duterte to sanction the Central Luzon Police Regional Director for violating labor rights with the implementation of the Joint Industrial Peace and Concerns Office (JIPCO) to stop what it terms as “radical union infiltration” in industrial zones in Central Luzon, even without the necessary clear implementing rules.

The petitioners said that “it is imperative that the Constitution must be defended by the Supreme Court from the assault of an outlandishly unconstitutional act of Congress including the unlawful taking of authority from the judiciary and the delegation of the same power to the executive Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC).” The Terror Act created the ATC.

Last year, the International Labor Organization (ILO) in its 108th Session Report, noted the continuous harassment of workers relative to their right to organize unions and the killings of trade union leaders that may have been perpetrated by the employers as well as by the State forces.

Signing the petition are Atty. Matula of the Federation of Free Workers, trade union leaders of the Nagkaisa Labor Coalition namely: Annie Enriquez Geron, President of The Public Services Labor Independent Confederation, Daniel Edralin, Secretary General of National Union of Workers in Hotel and Restaurant and Allied Industry, Renato Magtubo, Chairman of the Partido Manggagawa, Deobel Deocares, President of the National Federation of Labor, Danilo Laserna, VP For Education/Head Operations, FFW, Julius H. Cainglet, Co-Chairperson of the Church-Labor Conference and FFW VP for Advocacy, Ruel Polon, President of TF Logistic Philippines Workers Union; Elmer Labog, Chairman of Kilusang Mayo Uno, Eleanor De Guzman of the Workers’ Resistance Against Tyranny & For Human Rigths, Pascual Pausal of Kilos Na Manggagawa; and trade union leaders of the UNI Global Union-Philippine Liaison Council, namely, Jesus Exequiel Nidea, President and Roland Dela Cruz, Executive Vice President); and Rolando Librojo, convenor of Kilusang Artikulo Trese. Atty. General Du is collaborating counsel.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Labor groups surprised that TUCP sided with anti-ABS CBN franchise

The vote of Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) party-list Rep. Raymund Mendoza against the renewal of the franchise of ABS-CBN Corporation last Friday surprised labor groups.

Nagkaisa Labor Coalition Chairman Sonny Matula said their members, as well as other trade unions and workers’ groups were all in shock upon learning that one of their convenors, did not toe the line and set aside the jobs of 11,000 workers and the means of survival of their families by voting to deny ABS-CBN a franchise.

“Many could not hide their disappointment and disgust in public. We have to speak as a coalition,” he said in a statement on Sunday, July 12.

Nagkaisa asked Rep. Mendoza to explain to the coalition the reason behind his vote.

According to the group, the lawmaker already communicated to Matula that he will explain to the coalition his vote, in due time.

The Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) was also surprised with Mendoza’s vote.

“We are really surprised, to say the least, about TUCP not supporting even the interest of the 11,000 workers, who would lose their jobs at the ABS-CBN,” KMU Chairman Elmer Labog said in a separate interview.

He expressed hope that TUCP will reconsider its position saying the battle to assert that ABS-CBN be allowed to operate is not yet finished.

“More so, it’s still a long war to fight for press freedom and freedom of expression,” said Labog.

On July 10, the House Committee on Legislative Franchises adopted the recommendation of its technical working group to reject the bills seeking to grant a fresh franchise to ABS CBN in a vote of 70-11. - by Leslie Ann Aquino

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

What is the real picture and employment plan, Sec. Bello?

Nagkaisa Labor Coalition (NAGKAISA) chided the DOLE for its deafening silence on what it intends to do with the unprecedented levels of unemployment and mounting company closures and lay-offs the country is now going through.

“It has been more than a month since the PSA published its Labor Force Survey saying that unemployment rate rose to 17.7 percent accounting to 7.3 million unemployed Filipinos in April 2020. And yet, we have heard nothing from Sec. Bello on what the government’s plan is. Instead, all we hear are efforts to downplay the jobs crisis” labor lawyer Sonny Matula, Chairperson of NAGKAISA said.

“So what is the real picture, where is the employment plan, Sec. Bello?”asked Matula.

Nagkaisa was reacting to DOLE’s insistence of using its field reports as the only basis for describing the jobs crisis, claiming that the LFS “is just a survey.” Yesterday, DOLE reported that only 112,000 workers have been displaced so far from 4,354 companies reporting shutdown or have implemented retrenchments due the pandemic.

“There are more than 100,000 Jeepney drivers in Metro Manila alone, who have been displaced, many of whom were reduced to begging,” Nagkaisa convenor and Samahan ng Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) Chair Daniel Edralin.

Partido Manggagawa (PM) Chair Renato Magtubo is also baffled at the way DOLE is suppressing unemployment numbers, saying business groups themselves were refuting these claims, with the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) reporting 3.5 million job losses from its members alone.

“Para na ring si Roque si Bello na natutuwa sa mababang numero,” said Magtubo.

NAGKAISA is also incensed by DOLE’s silence on government policies that could lead to more job losses.

“50,000 OFWs have been repatriated, more than 160,000 are still stranded abroad, estimated job losses for OFWs ranges from 500,000 to 1 million, what’s the plan to reintegrate them?” questioned Matula.

“What is DOLE’s position on the government’s ill-conceived policy of phasing our PUJs during the time of pandemic? Why was DOLE unable to speak strongly in favor of ABS-CBN workers who stand to lose their jobs should the HOR committees decide not to grant a pro-worker franchise,” Matula said.

All these translates to massive decrease in aggregate demand, most likely due to loss of incomes from all the jobs and livelihoods lost due to the pandemic and the lockdowns. If unchecked, this will result in less production, less investment and minimal if not negative economic growth.

“This, in turn, will result in more losses in jobs and livelihood in both formal and informal economy,” argued Matula.

Nagkaisa! is urging the government to come up with an economic recovery package equivalent to at least 10% of the GDP.

Such an economic recovery package should be guided by an agro-industrial policy aimed at generating jobs to build up our public services as well as in sectors considered as new drivers of growth and those with higher multiplier effects.

The group is also pushing for income and employment guarantees for those permanently unemployed and temporarily displaced.

“The DOLE must not remain a by-stander in all these circumstances. Nagkaisa! would like to see a ‘better normal,” a different world of work, emerge in the aftermath of the pandemic,” said Matula.

Now more than ever is the best opportunity for workers, employers, government and civil society groups to come together to decide on some fundamental changes to achieve a better world of work.

Friday, July 3, 2020

President Duterte has forgotten his Constitutional Law!

With his signing of the Anti-Terror Law of 2020, President Rodrigo Duterte has failed his Constitutional Law test. We are disappointed with his failure to reject an unconstitutional proposal. He succumbed to the seduction of an indecent proposal.

The people will go to the Supreme Court to remind him and Congress that the fundamental law is supreme over the Anti-Terror bill.

The President missed his historic opportunity to uphold the supremacy of the Constitution. He failed to stand to the historic challenge.

He very well knows that he has veto power but he failed his solemn duty to ensure that all laws should be enacted in accordance with the constitution-- the Supreme Law of the land to which all laws must conform to and to which all persons, including the highest officials, must respect.

Many presidents around the world have used their veto powers to rectify constitutionally-infirm provisions of proposed measures, but the president failed this challenge to veto the proposed anti-terror bill despite knowledge that Section 9 (inciting to commit terrorism) is contrary to our freedom.of expression under the Bill of Rights; sections 29 (detention without judicial warrant) which provides for warrantless arrests and longer detention period for suspected ‘terrorist’ is diametrically running against the right of citizens to be secure against unreasonable arrest (Sec 2 of Article III of the Constitution).

We are taking this to the Supreme Court.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020


The Nagkaisa Labor Coalition slams the act of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) in killing sources of workers' livelihood in the country. In time of COVID 19 pandemic which also known as the worst crisis in the past 150 years, instead of helping create jobs, NTC caused joblessness again.

We can't understand if our government officials understand the mandate of the state to protect workers' full employment and to guarantee the right to security of tenure.

NTC separately ordered ABS-CBN’s subsidiaries, SkyCable Corp. and ABS-CBN digital TV using Channel 43, to immediately stop their operations due to expiration of franchise while allowing other companies similarly situated to continue operating while having pending application for franchise renewal.

ABS-CBN and SkyCable workers are now part of the 13 million workers with jobs but not working. Soon they will join the 7.3 milion unemployed. If Congress has no plan to preserve jobs including those in ABS-CBN, then it goes to say that presidential vengeance now guides its legislative work, not the state policy of full protection of the working class.

Like a job serial killer, NTC yesteday slashed the wrists of two more companies to bleed them to the ground and add more unemployment in our country.