Sunday, May 16, 2021

Workers' Coalition Slams House Urgent Call for Chacha

The  biggest labor coalition in the country slams the House leadership's "hell-bent" effort to amend restrictive economic provisions in the 1987 Constitution amid the raging fight against CoVID 19 pandemic.

Instead of resuming plenary debates and deliberations on the proposed constitutional amendments in his Resolution of Both House No. 2 (RBH 2) when sessions resume this week, NAGKAISA holds that Speaker Lord Allan Velasco needs to prioritize the passage of the Bayanihan 3 and other measures to help displaced workers and to ease the burden of the CoVID 19 pandemic.

NAGKAISA said it before and will repeat it again that this is not the time for charter change. The money for the charter change campaign should be appropriated for "ayudang sapat para sa mga manggagawang nalaglag sa trabaho o kung may trabaho man ay di nakakapasok sa trabaho."

First, on procedure, the alleged political "consensus" in the House has no counterpart support in the Senate. Under Article XVII of the Constitution, without the uppet chamber,  such initiative is already dead on its track before moving an inch. 

Second, it does not reflect the utmost welfare of the Filipino people nor considered the health and safety of our citizens in this time of pandemic.

With all due respect to the House Leadership or political "consensus" in the House, there is no urgency on the Speakers' proposition to amend the fundamental law to entice foreign direct investment (FDI) via relaxation of land ownership. Relaxation will not entice investment when investors are holding their capital waiting for better times after the pandemic.

Also, other countries' experience will tell us a different narrative. To cite some, China, Vietnam and Singapore are able to capture the bulk of FDI in Asia in the past decades without giving ownership of land to foreign investors.

The major factors that have kept investors at bay are not the limitations to ownership of land and shares in corporation, but the prohibitive cost of doing business, red tape, corruption, lack of infrastructure and the high cost of electricity. 

Add to these, European and American investors shy away from  the country because of the unpredictable Duterte administration, corruption,  the extrajudicial killings (EJKs) and the rampant violation of trade union and human rights.

Instead of dancing with Chacha, Congress in the midst of the on-going pandemic should devote the remaining time of the 18th Congress in making sure that the government’s  vaccination program should be appropriately funded and vaccines to be used are safe and effective. 

Also,  Bayanihan 3 should be made urgent in their legislative calendar so as to discuss and approve said  measure to mitigate  the impact of the pandemic on workers’ jobs and on the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises of the economy.

Nagkaisa believes that “trabaho, ayuda bakuna, karapatan at kasarinlan" (TABAKK) para sa pagbangon ng ekonomiya ang dapat atupagin ng kongreso hindi ang pagbabago ng konstitusyon (CHACHA)”. 


Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Pati ba naman PPE pivot to China na rin? - Nagkaisa

The Nagkaisa labor coalition on Wednesday deplored what it calls as unbridled expansion of the Duterte administration’s ‘Pivot-to-China’ policy.

The group was referring to the supposed preference accorded to Chinese-made PPEs by the government at the expense of local manufacturers and thousands of their workers. 

“Pati ba naman PPEs ‘pivot to China’ pa rin ang policy,” lamented Nagkaisa Chair Sonny Matula, as he reacted to published reports of gripes being raised against the government by local PPE manufacturers. 

The Confederation of Philippine Manufacturers of PPE (CPMP), a group composed of five experienced manufacturers in electronics and garments, have been complaining about lack of support to local industry even as it was the government itself which prodded them to repurpose their businesses for the production of medical grade PPEs amid the pandemic. 

Repurposing their facilities, the group said, cost them $35 million in investments. The CPMP, as reported, has a total capacity to make 720 million masks, 36 million coveralls and isolation gowns and 120 million PPE-related accessory covers.

But the Duterte administration, the group claimed, bought only a portion of that supply as most PPEs were procured from China. The group, in one public hearing held at the Senate, reported that some 3,500 of their workers have already been laid off. 

“We could have saved these workers and created more jobs had the government made it a strategy to support key sectors of the economy that have the potential of producing the country’s needs during the pandemic,” said Matula, adding that even the government can venture into this kind of production as we have trained workforce available for this kind of jobs.

The group demands that procurement policy be changed to prioritize local production as well as the full disclosure to who or what groups have largely benefited from importing PPEs abroad. 

PRESS RELEASE
NAGKAISA
Labor Coalition
05 May 2021

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Reaction to DOLE’s Labor Day Bakuna

Para lang may masabi ang DOLE at Palasyo sa manggagawa sa May 1, nakiamot lang ito sa IATF ng 5,000 na bakuna, na bukod sa kulang na kulang, ay una nang nailaan para sa mga nasa priority list. Hindi kaya mas makagulo pa ito? 

Ang nararapat kasi at mas epektibo ay mabilis at tuloy-tuloy na bakuna at ayuda, hindi pang Labor Day lang na propoaganda.

This is the reason why in yesterday’s meeting with the DOLE, our representatives argued that instead of a one-day vaccine fair for show, the government should rather ramp up the vaccine information drive among workers and also ensure transparency in vaccination drive, including the details of every vaccine purchase.

We likewise urge Congress to infuse public funding for our own vaccine development, even if it may take a year or two to develop our capacities.    

And to help ease and accelerate the global production of vaccines and reduce their costs, we called on the national government to support the TRIPS Waiver, which would allow India and other countries in the Global South to ramp up their vaccine production thereby allowing us to have greater access to vaccines. In the medium term, TRIPS Waiver could also help facilitate local production.

Sadly, this ‘little thing’ Labor Day vaccination only highlights how bad and tough the situation is for workers under this incompetent regime. So, what else can we expect from Duterte’s few remaining months in office? Pawang kapalpakan na lang ba ito hanggang katapusan? 

PRESS STATEMENT
NAGKAISA 
Labor Coalition
28 April 2021
Ref: Atty. Sonny Matula
Chairperson

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Labor Coalition Calls on Congress to Extend or Improve Healthcare Workers' Compensation, Family Survivorship Assistance

The NAGKAISA Labor Coalition  recognizes that the Healthcare workers directly experience the staggering  death toll and the on-going impact on the physical and mental health at the frontlines of the fight against the CoVID 19 pandemic.

Despite the many risks, lack of resources, long hours of work, and government inefficiencies, our real-life heroes continue to do their jobs, diligently and selflessly providing healthcare assistance to the Filipino people who need it most.

"We call on the house and the senate to continue or extent after June 30 the grant to public and private healthcare worker who contracts severe CoVID-19 infection while in the line of duty to a P100,000 compensation; and, in case of his or her death,  to one million pesos (P1,000,000)  for his or her family as survivorship benefit," said Alliance of Filipino Workers (AFW-SENTRO) President Willy Pulia, who is a nursing aid working at the Makati Medical Center.

"The continuing outburst and unchained spread of CoVID 19 requires the continuing inclusion of the 100,000 pesos compensation and 1million pesos safety net for the family of a healthcare worker who would not survive in battling this dreaded virus," added Trade Federation  Chairperson  Manuel Payao of the Hospital and educational institutions unions of the Federation of Free Workers (FFW).

"Though we are not wishing anyone to sacrifice one's life,  thousands of us contracted severe illness and hundreds  succumbed to death in the line of duty, we need  to recognize these sacrifices and extend assistance to the family survivors in case of their untimely demise, a supreme sacrifice for their families," added Payao, who is also a registered nurse and union president of the UERM Employees Union-FFW in Quezon City.

NAGKAISA also urges government to grant hazard pay to all frontline workers and quarantine leave to all suspected, infected or in anyway affected  by CoVID 19.

"While these kinds of benefit and assistance may not be equal to the weight of their care and concerned with the needs of their patients, neither  enough to recognize all their sacrifices  at this time of pandemic; we hold that, as a grateful nation, we need to profusely  manifest our gratefulness to their heroic deeds by continuing or improving benefits given to them under Bayanihan 1," opined Union President Phoebe Acuril of FFW and who is a nursing aid at the Capiz Emmanuel Hospital in Capiz City.

"Further, NAGKAISA calls on the Employees  Compensation Commission (ECC) to consider CoVID 19 as an occupational disease, particularly so if the employee works in the hospital, medical institution and other healthcare sector as well  as other frontline activities during the time of pandemic," added Rudy Ladiao, NAGKAISA Convenor and General Secretary  of the the Unified Filipino service Workers (UFSW), the bargaining agent of the employees  at the Philippine Chinese General Hospital and Medical  Center in Manila.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

NAGKAISA! Nanawagan sa Gobyerno na Ipagtanggol ang Mga Karapatan ng Unyunista at Itigil ang Patayan at ang Red-Tagging

Ang Nagkaisa!  Labor Coalition ay kaisa sa mga biktima ng pagpatay at ng panunupil sa unyon

Hinihimok namin ang gobyerno na i-konkreto ang probisyon ng konstitusyon sa proteksyon sa paggawa. 

Nananawagan kami sa mga opisyal ng gobyerno na huwag maging kasabwat sa mga pagpatay na ito na mga produkto ng mga baliw na pag-iisip.

Wag po nating ipagkanulo ang mga manggagawa para sa pabor ng makapangyarihang sa lupa. Wag po tayong maghugas kamay katulad ng ginawa ni Pilato.

Kinokondena namin ang pagpatay kay Dandy Miguel ng KMU, Manny Asuncion ng WAC, Leonardo Ecala ng NAFLU at iba pang mga lider ng unyon na pinaslang sa limang taon ng administrasyong Duterte.

Malugod naming tinatanggap ang pahayag ni DOJ Secretary Guevarra na isang espesyal na pangkat ng pagsisiyasat itinalaga ng DOJ upang titingnan ang pagpatay kay Dandy Miguel sa Laguna noong Linggo. Sinabi niya isama niya din ang NBI upang maging bahagi ng AO 35 Task force upang siyasatin ang extra-judicial killing.

Nanawagan ang NAGKAISA! Labor Coalition sa gobyerno hindi lamang upang mag-imbestiga at mag-usig ngunit kondenahin din ang laganap na pagpatay sa mga unyonista, abugado at aktibista. Ang pagpatay sa isang tao ay para na ring pinapatay tayong lahat, pinapatay nito ang bahagi ng ating pagkatao.

Sa ilalim ng administrasyong Duterte, napansin namin na ang gobyerno ay maligamgam kung di baga parang walang malasakit. Wala ka naririnig na pagkondena mula sa gobyerno sa mga walang kabuluhang pagpatay na ito. Ang kulturang "kill, kill, kill them all " ay para bagang hinihimok pa ng pangulo. Ito ay pagkabaliw at dapat itigil ng mga mamamayan ng isang sibilisadong lipunan.

Ang NAGKAISA kasama ang FFW at SENTRO ay iniharap sa Committee of Application of Standards sa 2019 International Labor Conference (ILC), ang mga kaso ng 43 na mga unyonista na pinatay sa panahon ng administrasyong Duterte.

Napagpasyahan ng ILC na magpadala ng isang ILO High Level Mission at ang mga union sa Pilipinas ay gumawa ng maraming mga follow-up sa DOLE ngunit hanggang ngayon ang gobyerno ng Pilipinas ay hindi handa, kung hindi man tumanggi, na tanggapin ang nasabing HLM. Sa gayon, hindi tayo magsasawa ngunit patuloy na hinihimok ang gobyerno na tanggapin ang high level mission.

Natutuwa kami na sa wakas ay binasag ni Sec Bello ang kanyang katahimikan sa bagay na ito, at hinihimok namin siya na agad na gumawa imbistigasyon at:

1. Ipatawag ang NTIPC upang talakayin ang resolusyon sa pagsasama ng paggawa sa AO35

2. Ipatawag ang High Level Monitoring Body at makipag-dayalogo sa AFP, PNP, DND at DILG

Panghuli, sinusuportahan din naming ang pagsasabatas ng Senate Bill 2121 na gagawing kriminal sa "red-tagging" sa mga unyunista, abogado at iba pang mga aktibista.

Various labor centers condemn the attacks against workers, unionists, and organizations

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

February labor data indicates worsening employment problems – Nagkaisa!

It is not only the rate of COVID-19 infection that is rising but also the unemployment and underemployment rate. The February employment figures released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) this morning indicate a worsening trend, with the easing January unemployment and underemployment of 8.7% and 16% respectively, reversed by the 8.8% and 18.2% rates this February. 

The only positive note for the February data is the labor force participation rate bouncing back from 60.5% to 63.5%. But the re-imposition of ECQ-Series 2 in the NCR Plus bubble may simply reverse this gain in the next quarter. Likewise, the expected influx of graduates sometime this May or June would provide new entrants to the labor force with no immediate jobs to grab.

These latest employment numbers, therefore, demand serious attention and actual resolution as the government’s health and economic response can only be made effective and sustainable with the full participation of the greatest number of employed and healthy workforce. 

Hindi na maaring magpatuloy ang kapalpakan. The economy needs a bigger stimulus; thus, the proposed Bayanihan 3 in Congress should not be blocked by the Palace. Workers need jobs and basic income, hence, workers’ demand for full employment through a public employment program that provides income and employment guarantees must be incorporated into Bayanihan 3. This should be passed as a urgent measure by the government.

Itigil ang kapalpakan. Designated czars should be replaced by people of known competence in their respective fields. Repeated and prolonged lockdowns may reduce the rate of virus infection, but not the incidence of hunger and the deteriorating labor and human rights condition in the country. 

It is insanity to do the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results, to borrow Albert Einstein's words. 

Friday, March 26, 2021

Workers support criminalization of red-tagging

The Nagkaisa! Labor Coalition welcomes Senate Bill 2121 that would criminalize “red-tagging” of labor leaders, labor organizations and other activists and people’s organizations. 

Authored by Senator Franklin Drilon, the Anti-Red Tagging Bill would penalize law enforcers, military and paramilitary personnel who label, vilify, brand, name, accuse, harass, persecute, stereotype or caricature individuals, groups or organizations as state enemies, left-leaning, subversives, communists or terrorists as part of a counter-insurgency or anti-terrorism program or strategy, with ten years imprisonment and perpetual disqualification to hold public office. 

“We laud this proposed legislation as it would add protection to the Constitutionally guaranteed rights of workers and activists to freedom of speech, of expression and the right to peaceably assemble to redress government for grievances,” Atty. Sonny Matula, chairperson of Nagkaisa! said. 

“Workers themselves, including members of Nagkaisa! have been red-tagged, harassed, given death threats via text message, ‘visited’ in the privacy of their own homes, and have received ‘invitations’ to police camps,” explained Matula. 

Many unscrupulous employers are using the current climate of impunity to bust the unions through red-tagging.

“It would certainly correct some of the major deficiencies of the Anti-Terrorism Act that has already made lives of rights defenders miserable, and even resulted in the death of a number of them, most notably, on ‘Bloody Sunday’ on March 7,” added Matula.  

Senator Drilon filed the bill two days ago. 

“We are of course still pursuing the repeal of RA 11479 or the Anti-Terror Act that has made the police and military officials bolder in unfounded red-tagging and blatant violation of human rights,” said Matula. 

“The police have red-tagged and labeled as terroristic acts legitimate trade union action such as organizing, collective bargaining, strikes, protest actions and calls for dialogue with government, especially during this pandemic,” Matula explained. 

The Anti-Terror Act has repealed the Human Security Act that used to penalize law enforcers with 10-12 years imprisonment for detaining suspected terrorists for three days without filing charges. The accused who would be proven innocent would have also received 500,000 pesos per day of unlawful detention under the old Human Security Act. 

Monday, March 15, 2021

Nagkaisa slams red-tagging, union-busting in the public sector

A labor coalition of private and public sector unions and labor organizations denounces the latest red-tagging move by the government, through the Department of Interior and Local Governments (DILG), which designated in writing legitimate public sector unions as communist terrorist groups (CTG).

The DILG, on March 10, 2021, ordered its regional directors as well as the regional secretary of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao to list names of government employees who are proven to be members of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) and the Confederation for Unity, Recognition, and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE). 

Nagkaisa explained that although ACT and COURAGE are not affiliated with the broad coalition, the duty of defending the integrity and independence of trade unions, more so the life and security of their members, is a bottom-line principle that the trade union movement around the world will hold on for life. 

“The right of the workers to self-organization is an inherent right to human persons, as social beings.  Nobody should deprive them of this freedom to associate. Neither the government, racketeers, employers, churches or political parties or politicians are allowed to interfere in the exercise of this right. At the end of the day, only the workers - the members of unions - themselves should regulate their union - never anybody or external forces,” declared Nagkaisa Chair Sonny Matula. 

The group said it is very contemptible to see the government, being the employer of the three million public sector workers, including contractuals, subject its own rank-and-file workers to a dangerous witch hunt. 

“It reminds us of how Hitler’s anti-Semitism campaign, which started with the simple profiling of Jews across Germany and other parts of Europe, culminated into a Holocaust,” lamented Matula.

Nagkaisa likewise reminded the DILG that red-tagging and other anti-union activities are prohibited under the 2011 Guidelines on the Conduct of the DOLE, DILG, DND, DOJ AFP and PNP Relative to the Exercise of Workers’ Rights and Activities.

Annie Geron, President of the Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK), on her part argued that this kind of red-tagging move by the DILG is tantamount to union-busting, thus, will also be interpreted by private employers as a legitimate policy and therefore harmonious with their own union-busting activities in the private sector. 

“It should be stopped because once they combine, activities of this newly-formed riding-in-tandem group will likely culminate into a holocaust of unionism in the Philippines as the supposed protector of trade union rights in the public sector has become its own tormentor,” said Geron.

She added that it is under the Duterte administration that public sector unionism is officially discouraged, if not prevented outright, citing the case of unionization efforts for the non-uniformed personnel in the Philippine National Police (PNP) being nipped in the bud by no less than the PNP Chief. 


Thursday, March 4, 2021

Hit hardest by the pandemic, women workers call for 'ayuda', jobs, and protection of labor rights


Mass layoff and income losses continue to mount despite the easing of restrictions and the initial rollout of vaccination. Needless to say, the combination of health, economic, and education crises one year under the pandemic is hitting women the hardest when they assumed added burdens as confirmed in several studies.


It is for this reason that members of the Nagkaisa labor coalition were demanding another round of ‘ayuda’ or income support, public employment program, and the protection of labor rights as the group kicks off with its celebration of the women’s month with a rally Thursday at the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

“Isang taon na ang pandemya pero nakatanggap lamang ng dalawang buwang ayuda ang manggagawa. At dahil walang dagdag na ayuda at bagong trabaho, parami pa ng parami ang nagugutom na at ang ekonomiya ay hindi rin makabangon. Sa gitna nito ay ang walang kaparis na sakripisyo ni lady breadwinner, tita caregiver, at mama cum teacher rolled into one,” said Judy Miranda, head of the coalition’s women’s committee and also the secretary general of Partido Manggagawa (PM).

Joining the DOLE action, Miranda said, were women workers who lost their jobs from the continuing company retrenchments, and those who have pending cases before the labor department over illegal dismissals, union-busting, unpaid wages, 13th month, and separation pay, among others. 

A scheduled dialogue with the DOLE right after the rally may give workers from the export zones in Cavite, Laguna, Cebu, as well as the teaching and non-teaching personnel in private universities, a chance to seek immediate resolution of their cases and concerns pending before the department. 

And as tensions rise between workers and employers due to this lingering crisis, workplace and domestic violence become common, further victimizing women in varying degrees, thus, the workers’ demand for the immediate ratification of ILO’s Convention 190.

“At a time when misogyny is now being normalized in various ways, ILO Convention 190 is precisely what we need today,” said Nice Coronacion of the Sentro ng Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (Sentro).
Women workers were also demanding full protection of their rights as more employers resort to union-busting activities 

"Using the pandemic as an excuse, Provision Gloves Apparel closed its factory in Batangas, only to find out that their main factory remains in operation, under a different name. Management is busting our union and avoiding collective bargaining. This should stop," said Jessica Guerrero, PGA Union-FFW president said.

For her part, Annie Geron of the Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK), argued that quality public service requires a healthy and well-protected workforce both in the frontlines and administrative functions.

“Quality evades public service when bosses at the top are also the ones who deny their workers’ right to form unions and bargain for better working conditions,” said Geron, referring to how senior government officials suppress unionization efforts of their rank-and-file members. 

PRESS RELEASE
NAGKAISA 
Labor Coalition-Women’s Committee
04 March 2021

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Biggest Labor Coalition Strongly Objects to Delisting of December 31 as Non-Working Holiday

The NAGKAISA Labor Coalition slams President Rodrigo Duterte's executive act delisting December 31 (New Year's Eve) from the list of our national holidays for 2021.

First, they want to open the economy without protecting workers from Covid-19. Then, they want to trade away our nurses for vaccines. This "nurses for vaccines barter proposal" of the Philippine government was confirmed by our German and UK trade union sources, but was rebuffed by both German and British governments on ethical grounds: Labor is not a commodity. 

Now, they want to remove our labor standards benefits! 

It now appears that there is a trend to intensify the exploitation of workers under the guise of "economic recovery"! The pattern is clear. They intend to save the economy by sacrificing the working class. This is a classic way of capital accumulation!

Among the three (3) special days deleted, only December 31 is considered a special nationwide holiday in Article 94 paragraph (c) of the Labor Code, which was adopted in 1974. The biggest labor coalition admits that November 2 and December 24 were never considered as special non-working holidays under existing laws.

Under RA 9492 (2007) and RA 9849 (2009), there are 14 non-working holidays: 11 regular and three special holidays.

The removal of the last day of the year from the list of special holidays may be considered contrary to these legislative acts.

Though some may argue that Section 26 of the Administrative Code (E.O.292) authorizes the president to modify by order or proclamation the regular holidays and special days,  NAGKAISA argues the principle of non-diminution of benefits. 

Further, reporting to work on the last day of the year, between two regular holidays is impractical. Workers have been enjoying December 31 as a special holiday with premium pay, for several decades now bolsters our vehement objection to its delisting. 


NAGKAISA Press Statement
February 27, 2021

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Anti-terror act to kill Edsa-like people power actions

File photo

A moribund dictatorship finally ended in Edsa in February 25, 1986. That action was called people power - one which was hailed around the world as a bloodless, peaceful revolution. That was thirty-five years ago today, but absent celebrations during the past four years under the Duterte regime, that Edsa spirit has long been lost within the officialdom. 

As to the disillusioned public, finding a reason to celebrate Edsa is as hard as finding new, competent post-Edsa leaders as the present regime has also failed their expectations.

Furthermore, it is needless to say that the Duterte regime is anti-Edsa. In fact, it was the failed #30YearsOfEdsa narrative that was utilized by the Marcos-Duterte troll-farms to discredit the so-called ‘yellow candidates’ during the 2016 and 2019 elections. That yellow-tagging narrative was proven effective during the last two elections. And now the shift to red-tagging, with the anti-terrorism law as the administration’s primary instrument.

Under RA 11479 or the anti-terrorism act of 2020 (ATA), it is not just the Edsa spirit that this regime aims to kill but the process itself. The ATA’s overbroad definition of terrorism clearly designates Edsa-like actions as an act of terror. 

Had Edsa 86 happened today, Cardinal Sin would likely be charged with terrorist act for calling the people to swarm Edsa to protect renegade leaders such as Enrile and Ramos, while Cory Aquino who claimed the throne as well as protest leaders would also be charged with conspiring to commit a terrorist act. So as Gloria Arroyo during Edsa 2, and the Erap supporters in Edsa 3. 

However, for this administration, that historic event that inspired similar political revolutions around the globe is now irrelevant and worse, illegal under the ATA. It is because under Duterte, public order is higher than social justice; punishment is better than freedom and due process. 

Accordingly, in ecozones the ATA assumes the name of the Joint Industrial Peace Concerns Office (JIPCO), a detachment inside EPZAs that aims to insulate foreign investors from trade unions and other legitimate union activities. In schools it is open surveillance and red-tagging. In Cordillera there is now ‘tokhang’ which targets left-leaning activists. In Congress, it is the attempt to alter the 1987 Constitution.

Thirty-five years and counting and workers remain threatened with the same policies that sent throngs of people into Edsa to drive out a dictator. We are not seeing that kind of revolution happening today despite the severity of the current economic and leadership crises. But surely, people will get to recognize the fact that killing Edsa is not a mandate they have given to Duterte or to his heir apparent. 

The Filipinos’ freedom and sovereignty shall never be surrendered. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

AFTER ALMOST ONE YEAR OF DEVASTATING PANDEMIC, GOV'T UN-PREPARED FOR INOCULATION, TREAT WORKERS LIKE COMMODITIES

Almost one year in a devastating pandemic, it appears that this administration is confused with no direction to pursue,  un- prepared to enter into a contract with vaccines' supplier and no vaccine to start with mass inoculation.

This administration also don't respect workers' rights and treat them like commodities.

First, govt restricts the rights of nurses and medical workers to travel and to work abroad.

Other than low wages and no hazards pay during covid 19 pandemic,  no opportunities were given for our nurses and health service workers  to work here except asking them to be volunteers or enter into a limited contract of services.

 The travel restriction is tantamount to deprivation of  the constitutional right to life -- including the right to travel,  livelihood and the pursuit of happiness -- without due process of law. 

Now,  government  would like to sell our nurses as if they are commodities  in a barter trade in  exchange for vaccines!

NAGKAISA calls on the government to just lift the ban on their deployment and let the czars and the emperor be held accountable for the lack of jobs and vaccine in the Philippines.

Nagkaisa Press Statement
February 24, 2021

Monday, February 22, 2021

NAGKAISA Solidarity Statement in Support of the Working People of Myanmar

File photo / Nagkaisa! 


In moments of extreme political and social emergency, history shows us that working people could be found organizing to protect their families and communities. We know that workers, especially in times of great social danger, always act in the interests of the majority of the people. This is especially true when societies succumb to authoritarianism or dictatorship. Trade Unionists, organizers, activists, and the broad mass of ordinary workers have consistently shown, that the working class stands firmly in defense of democracy and the advancement of human dignity !

We can see this dedication to human freedom today in the workers' overwhelming support for democracy in Myanmar. The NAGKAISA Labor Coalition expresses its solidarity with the  people of Myanmar that are continuing to strongly reject the reimposition of military rule in their country. 

Myanmar workers' declaration of a general strike is part of the broader and growing mass rejection of the military’s usurpation of political power in Myanmar. The strike is a positive sign that trade unions in Myanmar remains deeply committed to their country's long democratization process. The working people of the Philippines stand with our brothers and sisters in Myanmar as they continue to demand nothing less than full democratization. We believe that workers naturally benefit from, and must protect, democratic practices at home and abroad. True to our internationalist spirit, we view the Myanmar military’s assault on democracy as a threat also to working people all over the world. 

While tyranny continues to slowly creep in many countries  throughout the globe, the Myanmar trade unions' actions are a beacon of working class democracy that all those struggling in different countries can take inspiration from. It is clear that after the military dictatorship is defeated again, Myanmar’s people will still have a long way to go in order to deepen and consolidate their democracy. Nonetheless, defeating the military’s power grab is an important step in the country’s advance towards a better society. 
 
Authoritarian politics has no place in any government. Myanmar workers' defense of their democracy is a clear sign of that.  In the same spirit, trade unions in the Philippines also continue to fight in defense of our democratic spaces. 
 
Workers will continue to stand against unimaginative military dictatorship, indifferent  elite democracy, or incompetent strongmen, and all those that would try to undo the collective gains of our labor movement. 
 
We hope that the working people of Myanmar will remain steadfast in the fight for their future.  NAGKAISA, together with other social movements  and civil society organizations, in the Philippines, shall do everything in our power to support the struggle for deepening democracy in Myanmar. 

Long live democracy in Myanmar ! 
More power to Myanmar’s working class ! 

Thursday, February 11, 2021

END MILITARY JUNTA, RESTORE CIVILIAN GOV'T IN MYANMAR! -- NAGKAISA!


The Nagkaisa Labor coalition stands with the workers and people of Myanmar in calling for an immediate end to the military take over and the speedy restoration of the civilian government. We urge fellow trade unionists and workers in the Philippines, in the region and the rest of the world to do the same. 

Any and all attempts by the military to take over the civilian and democratically established governments around the world, much to the detriment of the working people and the citizenry, must be quashed. The people responsible for the military take over and their agents and supporters must be made to account. 

Nagkaisa joins the global noise barrage to break the silence across the region. The brazen take over by elements of the military should not be taken sitting down. We cannot be silent as a working class and as a people. We lend our voice and shout with our brothers and sisters from Myanmar as they call for democratic reforms. 

Multinational enterprises operating in Myanmar should stop engaging with companies that are owned or are closely associated with the military. 

Nagkaisa calls for the release of political detainees and activists, the restoration of democratic institutions, and the guarantees to the human and labour rights of all Myanmar working people, who at this point are exercising their freedom of speech, of expression and to peaceful concerted action against the military takeover. 

The right of Myanmar people to choose their leaders and remove limits on freedom of expression, assembly and association should be ensured. 

Nagkaisa is also calling for an assurance that workers in enterprises affected by the coup and military take over must be protected. 

END THE MILITARY JUNTA!
RESTORE THE CIVILIAN RULE!
ENSURE DEMOCRATIC REFORMS!

Nagkaisa Labor Coalition press statement 
Contact: Atty. Sonny Matula, Chairperson, Nagkaisa
sonny_matula@yahoo.com


Monday, February 8, 2021

Labor group condemns killing of another union leader

The Nagkaisa labor coalition was horrified and saddened with the news that another union leader was shot dead by unidentified assailants Sunday night. The group said the recent case is new addition to the mounting cases of unsolved killings in the country involving trade union leaders under the Duterte administration.

Because of this incident, Nagkaisa is reiterating it call for an end to these killings and for the government to finally allow entry to International Labor Organization’s (ILO) high level fact-finding mission in the Philippines after the International Confederation of Trade Unions (ICTU) listed the country as among the most dangerous countries for trade union work.  

We are outraged with the unending cycle of violence and impunity  against trade unionists. These killings need to stop!

The victims, according to police report is Leonardo Escala Sabasan, 59 years old, union leader of International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) and his companion Reana Joy Escala Monreal, resident of Tondo, Manila.

The perpetrators, police said were two male persons wearing black jackets on board an unidentified black scooter. 

Victims were rushed to Mary Johnston Hospital where Leonardo expired, while Reana was transferred to PGH for surgery.

Prior to the incident, the victims together with his relatives attended a fiesta at Happyland in Tondo, Manila. Thereafter, they went home on board a Toyota Van. Upon alighting the said vehicle, the motorcycle riding suspects suddenly emerged and without provocation, the backrider shot Leonardo Escala several times, while his niece Reana was hit at the back. After the incident, suspects sped towards the direction of Navotas.

It was  known that the victim earlier received several death threats in relative to his position as the Union President of International Container Terminal Services, Inc, MICT, police said. 

PRESS STATEMENT
NAGKAISA Labor Coalition
08 February 2021
Ref. Atty Sonny Matula
Nagkaisa Chairperson



Saturday, February 6, 2021

NAGKAISA WELCOMES DISMISSAL OF CASES AGAINST JOURNALIST SALEM AND UNIONIST ESPARAGO WHO WERE ARRESTED ON HUMAN RIGHTS DAY; APPRECIATES AFP CHIEF'S COMMITMENT TO RULE OF LAW, HUMAN RIGHTS

The NAGKAISA! Labor Coalition welcomes the Order of the  Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Monique A. Quisumbing-Ignacio of Branch 209 of Mandaluyong City junking the charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives against journalist Lady Ann Salem and labor union organizer Rodrigo Esparago. 

In an  Order dated February 5, 2021, the Mandaluyong RTC torpedoed  the search warrant used as authority to legally enter their condominium unit as null and void. 

Since the warrant had no legal effect, the  firearms and explosives allegedly found and seized by the police were inadmissible in evidence. They  cannot be used as evidence against Salem and Esparago -- as they are fruits of a poisonous tree.

After the scrutiny and meticulous evaluation of the record, we laud the Mandaluyong magistrate's finding that the preposterous circumstances and basis upon which the search warrant was issued had no anchor to stand on.

The biggest labor coalition hails the issuance of the order as a triumph of the rule of law. The circumstances of the arrest were out of human experience and appeared to be scripted.

 The incident that happened on human rights day also manifested a clear attitude of impunity and defiance of human rights norms on the part of those who effected the arrest.

Meanwhile, the NAGKAISA appreciates Lt. General Cirilito Sobejana's (new military chief) commitment for the officers and enlisted personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to "do their job, following the rule of law, give due respect to human rights and strictly adhere to the provisions of the international humanitarian law".

NAGKAISA hopes that the new military chief will exert efforts to be more  friendly with the trade unions by respecting workers' rights to organize unions,  engage in collective bargaining negotiations and join in peaceful concerted actions. 

In this light, we call on the AFP to seriously implement Guidelines on the conduct of the DOLE, DILG, DND, DOJ AFP and PNP relative to the exercise of Workers’ Right and Activity which was in May 2012.

Said guidelines provide that in the conduct of AFP/PNP operations: (1) they shall not red-tag or  stigmatize workers' organizations/associations, union leaders, members or organizers as fronts or members of certain conflict armed group; (2) they shall not interfere in certification elections; (3) they shall not issue invitation to workers organizers or leaders on their alleged link to certain armed group, among others.

Press Statement
February 6, 2021
Ref: Atty. Sonny Matula
NAGKAISA Chairperson

Friday, February 5, 2021

Biggest Labor Coalition Deplores Stultifying Military Remarks on an Inquirer Reporter

The NAGKAISA Labor Coalition deplores and manifests its affiliates solidarity  to Tetch Torres-Tupas of the Inquirer  and join her journalist association abhoring  Lt. Gen. Parlade Jr's remarks against a reporter who just reported a fact of the filling of a petition for intervention by two aetas, who are incarcerated due to alleged violation of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020. 

The remark of said high ranking military officer appears to reflect the quality of his thinking and leadership. He is unnecessarily creating hostility instead of creating friends or  symphatizers to his cause.

He needs to apologize for his careless statement.

We agree with Senator Lacson that Southern Luzon Command chief’s remarks against Inquirer reporter Tetch Torres-Tupas were “careless” and “totally unnecessary”.

This is an actual fact of public knowledge that the  Supreme Court should consider as a good ground to junk the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

Gen Parlade's remark is stultifying and a grave threat to our press and freedom of expression.

The threat to our rights and liberties is real. 

An attack on freedom of expression also 
directly and indirectly undermines workers and trade union rights.

Recently, London-based think tank Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) ranked the Philippines 55th out of 167 countries in the global democracy index for 2020.

It seems Parlade needs to go back to officers' candidate school to review his constitutional law. Particularly, he needs to be reminded of Section 4 of the Bill of Rights that speaks:"No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances."

Freedom of expression protects a reporter's right to write a news or hold an opinion and to express them freely without state or military interference.

Nagkaisa Press Statement
February 5, 2021
Ref. Atty. Sonny Matula
Chairperson

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Dialogue on Trade Union Repression and Human Rights with Secretary Bello Slated


The Office of the Labor Secretary has positively replied to the request of the trade union leaders belonging to the Council of Global Unions (CGU)-Pilipinas for a dialogue with Secretary Sylvestre Bello III on February 3 at 2:00pn. 

The dialogue will be done a day after the Supreme Court hears the oral arguments on the constitutionality of the Anti-Terror Act which the NAGKAISA Labor Coalition and most trade unions assailed as repugnant to the Bill of Rights of the Philippine Constitution and our international commitments with the United Nations.

The workers’ group earlier brought to the attention of Secretary Bello the rise of trade union and human rights violations in the country. CGU-Pilipinas will raise the issues of red-tagging of trade unionists and the acceptance of an ILO Tripartite High Level Mission which was recommended by the Committee of the Application of Standards in the June 2019 International Labor Conference due to the killings of 43 trade union leaders at the time, since the assumption to office of President. 

The issue of wage hike is also being proposed by the NAGKAISA to be discussed in the said meeting. 

Lately, workers have been invited to PNP camps for “verification”, but then were forced to admit against their will as members of New People’s Army (NPA) and surrender as rebels. To cite examples, ordinary workers in Coca Cola Plants in Sta Rosa, Laguna, and recently in Paranaque, were herded to Camp Vicente Lim and Camp Bagong Diwa on separate occasions. They were paraded as NPA surrenderees.

It was an "invitation" that one cannot refuse because of fear is a serious problem -- this is like a repeat of military invitations during Marcos’ martial law. This act of "invitation" is highly questionable and reprehensible.

Last December in Metro Manila, the CGU-Pilipinas strongly deplored the simultaneous raids of residences and the consecutive arrests of seven trade union leaders including  Dennise Velasco of Defend Jobs, which happened on Human Rights day.

On Bonifacio day,  NAGKAISA condemned the arrest of five trade unionists in Cebu. Dennis Derige of Partido Manggawa (PM)  and three organizers from SENTRO as well as a trade union leader were detained while leading workers  on their way to a picket line to protest the termination of union members at the Mactan Export Processing Zone. 

Government employees were not spared from the government’s violation of trade union rights. Among the glaring examples: the refusal to negotiate, threats and pressure by PNP Supervisors on their employees in PNP Region 8 to withdraw membership from PNP NUPAI, and red-tagging Public Sector Labor Independent Network (PSLINK), despite intelligence reports that it has no derogatory records; and union busting in Quezon City University by reassigning principal leaders --President Edlyn Manicat, Board Memebr Dr. Noel Lansang and Annie E. Geron--outside the University.

With the Anti-Terror Law in effect, it has been an open season for arrests of activists. It comes as no surprise that these trade union leaders and  organizers are being labelled as communist-terrorists. It has become government policy for trade union activists to be criminalized, illegally arrested and detained, as the government’s way of preventing them from organizing workers into unions and associations, and depriving them their freedom of thought and expression as translated into their activities among the workers.  

The intensified crackdown is precisely aimed at stifling dissent and organized action among the people. Killings of  activists and rights defenders, as a way of instilling fear and silencing the people, have not ceased.

The Council of Global Unions (CGU) in the Philippines includes the affiliates of the International Trade Union Confederation (FFW-NAGKAISA, KMU, SENTRO-NAGKAISA and TUCP-NAGKAISA), Building and Woodworkers International (BWI), Education International (EI), IndustriALL, International Transport Federation,  International Union of Food (IUF), Public Service Internation (PSI) and UNI Global Union.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Nagkaisa calls for public employment, wage recovery amid massive job loss and escalating prices

The recent spike in mass layoffs points to what Nagkaisa has been saying for several months now - when economic recovery is nowhere in sight, government needs to step in as an employer of last resort.

As such, rather than waste its time on charter change and witchunting, NAGKAISA is calling on Congress and the Executive to rectify their errors when they failed to incorporate a robust public employment program in the budget for 2021, by passing Bayanihan 3. The insufficient stimulus package is now proving fatal to our MSMEs and to their workers.

In its proposal for an Unemployment Support and Work Assistance Guarantee (USWAG), NAGKAISA calls for income guarantees for those who lost income due to “no work, no pay” policy, as well as several programs for those unemployed including job guarantees (an enhanced TUPAD that provides for a minimum of 3 months of employment), paid trainings under TESDA and the filling up as well as expansion of the public sector to upgrade our public health system and other social services like housing for the poor and to implement climate adaptation and mitigation programs. To finance this program, NAGKAISA is calling for wealth tax. 

Aside from the public employment program, Nagkaisa is also calling for wage recovery amidst the escalating prices of food and other necessities. The current real minimum wage of P434, as shown in the wage table of the National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC), clearly indicates that the P537 minimum wage has already been eroded. 

For this reason, workers are now asking for P100 to recover their lost purchasing power during the pandemic and to improve their standard of living as part of building back better.

However, the government must also ensure adequate supply of commodities especially food, otherwise, we will only be trapped in wage-price spiral. Food and transport prices are the main sources of inflation according to the December 2020 CPI report of BSP. The government must identify and address bottlenecks in supply chain. Importing food will certainly help stabilize prices, however, this must be coupled by extending adequate support to local meat production, which suffered massive losses due to ASF. The government must view support to domestic food production as part of economic and employment recovery. 

NAGKAISA strongly believes that a massive public employment program, support to key sectors of the economy, and wage recovery would be keys to economic recovery. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Biggest Labor Coalition Abhors DND's Abrogation of DND-UP Accord, Calls for Withdrawal of Unilateral Decision


NAGKAISA abhors the unilateral decision of the Department of National Defense (DND) and calls on Secretary Delfin Lorenza to withdraw the decision. Otherwise, he better resign.

It seems Secretary Lorenzana has forgotten Joe Almonte's reminder that, "insurgencies are war of ideas just as they are killing competitions."

The incumbent Defense establishment, it seems, is losing ideas. Its act is a militaristic one with no Madisonian constitutional anchor. Like a thief in the night and without even a perfunctory consultation with a co-equal signatory institution,  the Secretary is hastily  abrogating a time-honored protocol with UP since the signing of the Sotto-Enrile accord in 1982 and renewed in DND-UP accord in 1989.

 Without offering an iota of evidence and ignoring respect to plurality of ideas in an academic institution,  the Secretary resorted to red-tagging, using indirect  threats and psychological  intimidation. 

Instead of creating sympathy to the cause of the Defense Department, it seems the Defense Secretary is shooting his own foot by creating confusion and hostility between UP and the Defense establishment. 

The unilateral act -- done without minimum reflection and which probably ignored solid intelligence work--creates unnecessary enemies. It induces, not only further public distrust as regards the defense establishment, but also agitates dissention among members of the academic community. Trust is not imposed. It is earned, not only through words, and definitely not through attacks on academic freedom, but through action  that illustrates respect for students', teachers' and people's rights.

Furthermore, it appears that the Duterte Administration is really bent on doing a Marcos all over again, even outdoing him in this regard. The Defense Chief is withdrawing from an agreement with UP that was reached during the time of Marcos.