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.

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