Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Open letter to Sec. Bello to help Food Panda workers


November 18, 2020

Department of Labor and Employment
Intramuros, Manila


Dear Secretary Bello:

The Nagkaisa Labor Coalition comes to your good office in solidarity with some 700 riders of the food delivery app Foodpanda who held a “unity ride”  this morning to seek redress of their grievances in front of your office. Nagkaisa would like to request an inspection under Article 128 of the Labor Code (PD 442, as amended) in relation to the constitutional rights to security of tenure and to humane condition of work (Sec 3, Article XIII of the 1987 Constitution). 

The protest this morning started in front of the Film Center/Cultural Center of the Philippines area and ended at the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). Though they encountered some police harassments in front of the DOLE office, leaders of the Food Panda Riders Association and Kapatiran sa Dalawang Gulong (KAGULONG) successfully delivered a letter addressed to your office. The groups are asking the DOLE to conduct an inspection for the purpose of resolving the grievances of the Foodpanda riders. 

Nagkaisa was informed that the riders were contesting  the recent changes in Foodpanda policies that have negatively affected their pay and working conditions. 

Nagkaisa is cognizant of the fact that their pay is tied to bookings which are affected by so-called ‘grades.’ But the grading system is vague and not clear. Grades have fallen due to changes in the system which penalize riders and, thereby, reduced their take-home due to a new system adopted by Foodpanda  Further, the new provision  called “undispatch” forces riders to rush in order to pick up an order, thereby putting their health and safety at work in peril.

Nagkaisa joins in their demand  for the removal of “undispatch” provision and calls on transparency and fairness in the implementation of policies. They also call for the review of the computation of the pay for deliveries.

Most importantly, Nagkaisa calls for the DOLE to declare Food Panda as employer of its riders since the latter are subject to control and supervision of the company as shown by the impact of policy changes on pay and condition. 

Nagkaisa supports their contention that FoodPanda riders are not independent contractors but ordinary employees of the company owning the app.

Nagkaisa expresses its solidarity and deep admiration for the riders of Panda and calls on your good office to address their concerns in the soonest possible time.

Lastly, Nagkaisa manifests its protest on harrassment and interference that happened on said peaceful assembly. One of the leaders was arrested by the police  (though released after some talks and negotiation). 

Thank you and warm regards.

Very truly yours,

Nagkaisa Labor Coalition

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Workers ask PH government to declare climate emergency, press carbon majors and rich countries to pay for climate debt

The cost of damage from extreme natural disasters is too much to bear for victims living in the most climate-vulnerable countries like the Philippines. Thus, for the labor coalition Nagkaisa, the most responsible for the climate crisis – the rich industrial countries or the Annex 1 countries in the climate negotiations, and the ‘carbon majors, a hundred companies responsible for 70% of carbon emissions in the world –  should be the ones footing the bill for the climate damage being suffered by developing nations. 

The Philippines contributes less than 1% in carbon emissions, yet we suffer the most from climate devastations. 

“How can we recover from COVID-19 and advance into a sustainable future when we pay so much for damages not of our own making? To us, the government must be present not only in calamity-hit areas but also in the negotiating tables pressing rich countries and their TNCs to pay for climate debts they owe us,” said the group in a statement.

Nagkaisa noted that the billions of pesos in damages require the same amount or even higher in the recovery and restoration efforts alone. Preliminary estimate of damage from “Ulysses” has already breached P10B. It was also reported that “Rolly” and “Quinta” left some P11B in total damages.  

These are all preliminary estimates, the group said, but it added that between 2006 and 2015 the government estimated the damages from natural calamities to have reached P374B based on official accounting made by the Philippine Statistics Authority’s Compendium of Philippine Environmental Statistics in 2016. Another report from the Philippine Institute for Development Studies puts the total damage at P571B from “Yolanda” (2013) alone. The same PIDS study puts the average annual damages due to typhoons at P133.2B. 

Meanwhile, the government allocates a declining budget to the calamity fund from the 

“We’re running on a trillion peso deficit now due to COVID-19 and here these damages are, asking for the same attention and resources for recovery and rebuilding.  Either we, the taxpayers, will continue footing those bills forever or we charge them all to the world’s biggest polluters,” asserted Nagkaisa. 

Annex 1 countries are the richest industrial countries, while carbon majors are transnational companies (TNCs) involved mostly in the extraction and production of fossil fuel.

The Commission on Human Rights has already ruled on the moral and legal culpability of these carbon majors on the petition filed by trade unions and social movements in 2015. 

Nagkaisa has been pushing for a labor agenda which include income and employment guarantees. Included in the group’s public employment agenda is a nature and employment-based recovery program such as the creation of green and climate jobs in renewable energy, housing and building sector, transportation, and nature conservation.