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. 

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