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. 

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


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


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. 


Nagkaisa Labor Coalition press statement 
Contact: Atty. Sonny Matula, Chairperson, Nagkaisa

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. 

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

Saturday, February 6, 2021


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

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.