Thursday, September 7, 2023

Strong Endorsement from the Big Labor Coalition for CHR Budget Increase, P10M for Compensation for fallen TU leaders


The NAGKAISA Labor Coalition, a united alliance championing workers' rights and well-being, passionately supports the initiative to bolster the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) budget for 2024.

Our backing also extends to ensuring fair compensation for the 69 trade union leaders and organizers who tragically lost their lives, as reported during the last ILO-High Level Mission in January 2023. In a conversation with Senator Risa Hontiveros, NAGKAISA is proposing at least P10M for victims of TU killings to be given to their heirs and primary beneficiaries.

In 2022, CHR allocated P16 million in financial assistance, aiding a substantial 805 victims. As of the first half of 2023, P3.36 million has already been disbursed to assist 232 victims. Senators Risa Hontiveros and Raffy Tulfo in the upper chamber and Muntinlupa City Representative Jaime Fresnedi and Minority Floor Leader Edcel Lagman Sr of Albay in the House of Representatives lend their unwavering support to restoring CHR's original proposed budget for financial assistance.

The 1987 Philippine Constitution primarily gave CHR the mandate to protect and promote the rights and dignity of every human being in the country. Compensation for victims is an integral part of its broad task. Throughout the last ILO-HLTM and numerous engagements with DOLE, the NAGKAISA Labor Coalition did not only call for respect for TU and human rights but also has persistently called for investigations and accountability for those responsible for the killings of TU leaders/organizers, as well as other violations of freedom of association, including compensation for victims or their beneficiaries.

We earnestly call upon legislators and all concerned parties in the Marcos administration to heed the call for increased funding for the CHR and the rightful compensation for labor union leaders and organizers who are victims of violence.

Friday, September 1, 2023

NAGKAISA Extends Condolences to Fire Victims, Urges DOLE and DILG to Strengthen OSH and Labor Standard Enforcement

The NAGKAISA Labor Coalition, the biggest labor formation in the country today,  expresses its deep condolences on Friday for the 15 lives lost in the tragic fire incident at a sweatshop t-shirt factory in Quezon City. The incident serves as a somber reminder of the regulatory shortcomings exhibited by concerned agencies in upholding occupational health and safety standards (OSHS). This neglect persists despite the painful lessons learned from the tragic Kentex fire, which claimed the lives of 74 workers back in 2015.

"We stand in solidarity with the families affected by this recent workplace catastrophe. The victims not only deserve justice, but they are also entitled to rightful compensation. Accountability rests not just on the DOLE, DILG, and the relevant LGU, but on their collective responsibility to prevent such tragedies through effective regulatory and enforcement measures pertaining to safety and labor standards," remarked NAGKAISA Chair Sonny Matula.

NAGKAISA recalled that the aftermath of the Kentex incident prompted DOLE to initiate OSHS training and the deputation of trade union leaders as labor inspectors. This initiative extended beyond OSHS, encompassing a comprehensive inspection checklist targeting wage violations, benefit infringements, and the contentious practice of contractualization.

"The temporary setback due to budget constraints should not have obstructed DOLE's mission. Even without the deputation program, they have the means to collaborate closely with DILG and LGUs, which possess personnel capable of conducting regular inspections and ensuring adherence to pertinent laws on the ground," asserted Matula. He further emphasized that the resolution for sweatshops goes beyond relocating them; it necessitates a fundamental shift in their operational paradigm, aligning them unequivocally with labor statutes.

NAGKAISA underlines the imperative for further Congressional action in response to this tragic event. The objective is twofold: holding the responsible parties accountable and devising innovative strategies to bolster OSH enforcement and labor standards at the grassroots level, even down to the barangay level.

Furthermore, NAGKAISA calls on the DOLE to intensify its inspection initiatives under its visitorial power to workplaces. It points to the provisions of RA 11058, wherein the Secretary of DOLE is empowered and duty-bound to conduct inspections and even has the authority to halt work or suspend operations of any establishment with violations posing grave danger to workers.

Non-compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) standards can lead to administrative fines up to P100,000 per day until the violation is rectified.

NAGKAISA calls on a thorough investigation on this incident. 

The biggest  labor coalition expresses deep concern over the newsreport indicating that the local government unit permitted the hazardous business to continue operations and granted an extension until April 2024 for relocation. 

If these reports are accurate, the officials responsible for granting such an extension may be held accountable for multiple counts of violation of Sections 3(e) and 3(j) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, as well as Reckless Imprudence resulting in multiple homicides and multiple physical injuries stemming from this incident. The NAGKAISA Labor Coalition, the biggest labor formation in the country today,  expresses its deep condolences on Friday for the 15 lives lost in the tragic fire incident at a sweatshop t-shirt factory in Quezon City. The incident serves as a somber reminder of the regulatory shortcomings exhibited by concerned agencies in upholding occupational health and safety standards (OSHS). This neglect persists despite the painful lessons learned from the tragic Kentex fire, which claimed the lives of 74 workers back in 2015.

"We stand in solidarity with the families affected by this recent workplace catastrophe. The victims not only deserve justice, but they are also entitled to rightful compensation. Accountability rests not just on the DOLE, DILG, and the relevant LGU, but on their collective responsibility to prevent such tragedies through effective regulatory and enforcement measures pertaining to safety and labor standards," remarked NAGKAISA Chair Sonny Matula.

NAGKAISA recalled that the aftermath of the Kentex incident prompted DOLE to initiate OSHS training and the deputation of trade union leaders as labor inspectors. This initiative extended beyond OSHS, encompassing a comprehensive inspection checklist targeting wage violations, benefit infringements, and the contentious practice of contractualization.

"The temporary setback due to budget constraints should not have obstructed DOLE's mission. Even without the deputation program, they have the means to collaborate closely with DILG and LGUs, which possess personnel capable of conducting regular inspections and ensuring adherence to pertinent laws on the ground," asserted Matula. He further emphasized that the resolution for sweatshops goes beyond relocating them; it necessitates a fundamental shift in their operational paradigm, aligning them unequivocally with labor statutes.

NAGKAISA underlines the imperative for further Congressional action in response to this tragic event. The objective is twofold: holding the responsible parties accountable and devising innovative strategies to bolster OSH enforcement and labor standards at the grassroots level, even down to the barangay level.

Furthermore, NAGKAISA calls on the DOLE to intensify its inspection initiatives under its visitorial power to workplaces. It points to the provisions of RA 11058, wherein the Secretary of DOLE is empowered and duty-bound to conduct inspections and even has the authority to halt work or suspend operations of any establishment with violations posing grave danger to workers.

Non-compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) standards can lead to administrative fines up to P100,000 per day until the violation is rectified.

NAGKAISA calls on a thorough investigation on this incident. 

The biggest  labor coalition expresses deep concern over the newsreport indicating that the local government unit permitted the hazardous business to continue operations and granted an extension until April 2024 for relocation. 

If these reports are accurate, the officials responsible for granting such an extension may be held accountable for multiple counts of violation of Sections 3(e) and 3(j) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, as well as Reckless Imprudence resulting in multiple homicides and multiple physical injuries stemming from this incident. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Labor coalition counters employers' arguments against P150 wage hike proposal

The objections raised by the Philippine Retailers Association (PRA) and other business groups against the P150 legislated wage hike proposal stand on hollow ground. 

The Nagkaisa Labor Coalition maintains that correlations between wage hikes and job losses are largely speculative as there is neither substantial nor empirical evidence linking wage growth to massive unemployment. This is besides the fact that small firms, under RA 6727 and the Barangay Micro-Enterprise Business (BMBE) law, are allowed to avail exemptions from wage hikes.

On the contrary, we believe wage hikes reward the economy as increases in workers’ take-home pay spur growth in aggregate demand which in turn makes creation of new jobs more possible. Furthermore, wage growth enhances productivity by making inefficient and anti-labor firms more compliant with general labor standards.

Nagkaisa cites as a good example the P25 wage increase nationwide enacted in 1989. Despite such substantial wage hike nationwide and the coup attempts that followed, contrary to employers' logic, it did not lead to substantial job losses. GDP growth, in fact, reached a high of 5.8% between that period until we got hit by the Asian financial crisis in 1997. 

The P150 wage proposal is 24.59% of the P610 daily wage in NCR compared with the P25 which is 39.1% increase in 1989. The increase would be higher in BARMM, 43.99% of P341, but which is also necessary because of higher poverty rate in the region. 

On the topic of employers suggesting wage adjustments through Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) and wage boards, Nagkaisa appreciates wage enhancements via CBAs. However, we urge employers to refrain from adopting a hostile stance towards union formation in workplaces. In reality, a significant number of employers view freedom of association with hostility and skepticism. They perceive unions as adversarial forces. To make matters worse, the government, through the NTF-ELCAC, largely consider trade unions as one of the enemies in their on-going anti-insurgency campaign.

It is also crucial to note that union representation among workers stands at less than 2 million. Additionally, 5 to 10 million of workers are contractually tied to manpower agencies or cooperatives, a strategy often leveraged by major corporations to bypass more substantial wage commitments.

To add, the wage boards have, over the past 34 years, consistently sanctioned only marginal or inconsequential wage increments.

In conclusion, Nagkaisa remains unwavering in its dedication to the rights and welfare of Filipino workers. We are confident that with open conversation and a well-informed approach, a harmonious resolution beneficial for both employees and employers can be achieved. 

Monday, July 24, 2023

Bigong Pilipinas is the true State of the Nation



It’s been proclaimed before the global stage by no less than President Marcos, Jr. himself during the numerous foreign trips he made in the span of one year that the Philippine economy is doing good if not the best in the world in terms of performance.

But the state of Filipino workers disproves this claim. The President’s “Bagong Pilipinas” narrative is fake news. “Bigong Pilipinas” remains the appropriate representation of the true state of the nation today as far as the working class is concerned.

The post-pandemic Philippine economy may have recovered and businesses regained their profits, but the token P40 wage increase in NCR failed to recover even half of the wage value lost to inflation this year. And having no intention of pursuing a new anti-endo policy in the private and public sector, the Marcos administration is clearly on the path of keeping the status quo by affirming contractualization to be the best deal for local business and foreign investment to keep wages low and labor rights suppressed.

Moreover, the administration’s unsympathetic treatment of the ILO-High Level Tripartite Mission recommendations to address killings and red-tagging in the labor movement and to strengthen the mechanisms to protect freedom of association explains why DOLE slacks to undisturbed mode despite the continuing labor rights violations. The fact is without or with weaker unions, workers in their millions cannot negotiate with their bosses for improvements in their living standards.

Poverty, violence, and harassments continue to oppress women inside and outside their workplaces, yet the government works very slow in enacting measures to enhance protection for women. Convention 190 (elimination of violence and harassment in the world of work) has been waiting for Senate ratification since the last Congress but no move to that effect has been initiated by the Palace the way it did strongly for the Maharlika Investment Fund.

The state of COVID-19 public health emergency was lifted two days before the SONA, yet the state of the country’s healthcare system remains saddled with age-old problems. The brain-drain in the health sector continues while the local workforce suffers neglect and deteriorating working conditions due to low wages and irregular work arrangements.

Many administrations have failed workers in many aspects, thus, to be promised another “Bagong Pilipinas” under the same conditions of low wages, endo, and trade union repression surely won’t get accolades from the working class.

- Nagkaisa Labor Coalition

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

STATE OF LABOR ADDRESS 2023




Ahead of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s second State of the Nation Address (SONA), All Philippine Trade Unions (APTU) held the 2023 State of Labor Address (SOLA) on 19 July 2023 to shed light on issues faced by working Filipinos and their families and amplify calls for: (i) better wages; (ii) ending contractualization; and (iii) the full and free exercise of workers’ freedom of association and right to organize.

APTU, comprised of the Nagkaisa! Labor Coalition, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) and trade unions affiliated with the Council of Global Unions, was established in January 2023 when these workers’ organizations came together to submit their report to the International Labour Organization High Level Tripartite Mission (ILO HLTM), on the state of freedom of association in the Philippines. Since then, APTU has been working together to forge a common position on various issues that concern the labor sector, such as the issues of Sahod, Trabaho, at Karapatan, expressed in its mobilization during the May 1, 2023 workers’ rally.

The ₱40 daily minimum wage increase in NCR is too little, too late. It is not even half of the purchasing power lost to inflation, a loss valued at ₱89, based on the June 2023 consumer price index (CPI). It cannot even add a kilo of well-milled rice to a working family’s table for each working day. The ₱610 new NCR minimum wage is nowhere near the daily family living wage – a right enshrined in our Constitution and the Wage Rationalization Act, estimated by the IBON Foundation at ₱1,163. The struggle in Congress continues, in legislating towards true wage recovery and living wages. Through recent economic crises, workers sacrificed so much, and continue to sacrifice. In economic recovery, Government and employers must share in these sacrifices, as we work towards better policies to realize more decent work and a more equitable Philippine society.

APTU supports all proposed legislated wage increase measures currently pending in the House of Representatives and the Senate. These include the ₱150 across-the-board wage recovery increase filed by House Deputy Speaker Mendoza (TUCP) and Senate President Zubiri, as well as the ₱750 across-the-board wage hike towards family living wages, filed by the Makabayan Bloc. Congress should immediately hear and pass these bills to save working families from being a class of the permanently working poor trapped in precarious work and poverty wages. The regional wage boards outside of Metro Manila should immediately conduct consultations and hearings and issue substantial wage increase orders with urgency and dispatch.

Contractualization continues to be a bane for a majority of workers in precarious work arrangements. In the absence of stronger security of tenure legislation and decisive policy action by the Executive, precariousness is further entrenched by the continued implementation of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Department Order 174. More often, workers are forced to accept jobs that pay below minimum standards. Although government statistics claim a reduction of unemployment, in practice, current conditions likely tend towards workers taking on any job, even low-paying, poor-quality jobs, just to make ends meet.

APTU called on Government to immediately end the pandemic of contractualization by passing the Security of Tenure (SOT) Bill for both private and public sector workers, and the Public Service Labor Relations Act for the public sector. The Government must focus all its attention, resources, and energy on a comprehensive, yet sustainable labor and employment program.

Today, the Philippine labor rights situation is under the global spotlight. In January 2023, we welcomed the ILO High-Level Tripartite Mission to the country, which recommended actions to address its findings on persistent anti-union violence, political profiling, impunity, and lack of substantial progress in compliance with labor rights and standards. In June 2023, during the International Labour Conference (ILC) in Geneva, Switzerland, the Philippines was included in the shortlist of 22 countries in persistent violation of ILO Conventions on fundamental labor rights. For the seventh straight year, the Philippines had been ranked by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) as among the top ten worst countries for workers. By working together as social partners with the Government and employers, we can correct our troubling track record in workers’ rights and labor relations to reduce risk with an economic and employment impact, such as on trade benefits in relation to the renewal of EU and US Generalized Sytem of Preferences (+) and potential free trade agreements and foreign direct investment.

APTU called on the Government, especially DOLE, to comply with all ILO HLTM recommendations, beginning by amending or replacing Executive Order No. 23 to establish the Presidential Commission on Freedom of Association, which should include tripartite representation for both workers and employers. With the September 1, 2023 deadline set by the ILO for submission of the Philippine’s action plan for compliance fast approaching, DOLE should immediately address the finalization and adoption of the Roadmap on Freedom of Association in a tripartite manner.

APTU reminded the Government that all trade opportunities, such as the US GSP, EU GSP+, and free trade agreements, are tied to the Philippines’ compliance with fundamental labor standards and the full and free exercise of workers’ rights.

For decades, women workers, in particular, have also been on the losing end of concerns with security in workplaces. It is appalling how the wage gap based on gender continues to persist, and women workers have been subject to precarious and informal work, most of them contractual. Violence in the workplace and in the larger world of work continue to hound women workers and put a heavy burden on their shoulders that can only be alleviated by decisive policy interventions.

APTU asserts the importance of women workers’ participation in campaigning for reforms in labor concerns, such as in increasing the minimum wage, ending contractualization, and reinforcing observance of trade union and labor rights. APTU called on women workers to campaign for our Government’s ratification of ILO Convention 190 on the Elimination of Violence and Harassment in the World of Work.

APTU believes that a dialogue between Philippine labor and the President is long due, which should place workers’ rights and their welfare front and center in the Administration’s labor, employment, and economic policies.

APTU will continue to build the strongest and broadest unity among Filipino workers and their organizations, forging ahead in the struggle for living wages, decent work, and the full observance of fundamental labor rights.

All Philippine Trade Unions
Press Statement
19 July 2023

Friday, June 16, 2023

APTU Statement in the Decision of the ILO Committee on Application of Standards (ILO CAS)




Committee on Application of Standards of ILO Urges PH Govt to take "Decisive and Effective" Action on ILO Convention 87 Compliance Measures; Significant Economic Repercussions Loom; ILO sets Sept 1 Deadline for Upgraded Compliance Report

June 15, 2023 – The Committee on the Application of Standards (CAS) of the International Labour Conference (ILC)  headquartered in Geneva effectively rebuffed the Philippine Government compliance report addressing  the earlier recommendations of the ILO HIGH LEVEL TRIPARTITE MISSION to Manila that took place on January 23-26, 2023.

 The CAS sent the Government back to the drawing board, as it expressed "deep concern on the numerous allegations of murders of trade unionists, systemic violations of the right to freedom of association as well as lack of investigation". Further, the CAS sharply pointed out the "failure of the Government to submit a joint implementation plan" with workers and employers, as recommended by the High-level Mission, with the clear implication that the Government submission was both unilateral and not tripartite.

Considering the Philippines is in the CAS "shortlist" of countries indicative of the possible gravest violations on freedom of association, the decision of the CAS bears grave implications for the larger interests of the Philippine nation, our economy, and efforts to restore and renew key trade preferences with the United States and Europe under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) and GSP+ respectively, as well as free trade agreements with those two economies.

Successful compliance with these ILO recommendations, particularly in relation to the observance of ILO Convention 87 on freedom of association and the right to bargain collectively, is directly tied to these major international objectives. The potential gain from such compliance is significant - providing tariff-free access for about 9,000 Philippine product lines to the U.S. and European markets, attracting Foreign Direct Investments (FDI), and creating hundreds of thousands of decent job opportunities for Filipinos. 

Just yesterday, President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. announced the launching of the Philippine Export Development Plan (2023 - 2028), targetting the creation of one million new and decent jobs, by doubling and tripling Philippine exports.  The  unequivocal rejection by the CAS of the DOLE compliance report now raises serious questions on how these employment targets will be met as the key determinant to entry of Foreign Direct Investments to the Philippines is our acccession to tariff-free access to the American and European markets. With the failure of DOLE to obtain a positive finding on Philippine compliance with ILO C87, the matter of the Philippines meriting accession to the GSP and Free Trade Agreements with the US and the EU is now fully in doubt.

This will be a serious setback to Philippine job creation and the All Philippine Trade Union (APTU) delegation in Geneva, including the affiliates of the  International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), namely the Federation of Free Workers (FFW), the  Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), the Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO), and the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) expressed disappointment with the response of the DOLE in Geneva,as the focal agency of the Philippine Government, as falling far short of the mark set by both by the workers and the ILO HLTM.

Far from achieving an international seal of good housekeeping, the Philippine Government was instructed by CAS to re-engage with Workers and Employers to ensure compliance through "decisive and effective measures to promote a climate of non-violence", emphasized the need for the Government to "put an  immediate end to any act of violence and intimidation against union members for the legitimate exercise of their rights", which includes the unabated red-tagging of trade union activists by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC); and make a new submission to the ILO CAS by September 1, 2023.

The DOLE has much to answer for. Foremost among these is the unaddressed killings of 68 worker, worker intimidation and  harassment, and a continuing and unabated culture of impunity. Issues of thehuman and trade union rights violations and worker protection remain unresolved, tarnishing our image and international reputation.

The sad  performance of DOLE at Geneva, where obtaining a positive finding of our compliance with ILO C87 was crucial to our economic objectives, is a serious setback. We urgently need those trade preferences to create much-needed jobs in an economy battling persistent double-digit underemployment numbers.

The DOLE must now answer to the Economic Management Team and President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. Genuine efforts from labor and employers to reach out  and to collaborate with the DOLE were met with inertia, indifference, and a fixation on holding on to outdated and obsolete policies.

As we navigate the path ahead, our immediate demands are clear:

1. STOP the killings and harassments. End the mechanisms that enable this.

2. Solve the past cases to ensure peace with justice.

3. Replace E.O. 23 with a Presidential Commission on Freedom of Association (FOA) featuring genuine labor and employer representation. Launch it fully funded and fully staffed.

4  Appoint a body of eminent persons to address accountability issues related to killings and matters of compensation.

5. Transform existing protocols on how state security forces engage with labor into Executive Orders.

Hold DOLE accountable for its failed vision, ensure its leadership demonstrates the political will to comply with ILO C87.

With the unified voice of the APTU and ITUC affiliates, it is of paramount importance that we bring this dark and bloody history to an end  before September 1, 2023.

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Nagkaisa debunks business group’s arguments against legislated wage increase

The Nagkaisa Labor Coalition refutes strongly preposterous and misleading argument put forth by certain business groups that only a minority will benefit from the proposed legislative wage increase and as a result, raising wages will send 50 million workers begging for ayuda. 

The business groups recently claimed that increasing wages would only benefit a small percentage of the total workforce, stating that approximately 16 percent or about eight million workers in the formal sector out of the total 50 million Filipino workers would be eligible for the wage hike. 

This line of argument tries to draw a trade-off between workers in the formal and informal sector to diffuse employers’ direct accountability to their workers, hoping that by painting this ‘little-to-no effect’ and hyperinflation scenario, lawmakers would reconsider passing a legislated wage measure. 

We contend that the miserable state of the 50 million workers or more, which is a bigger agenda than a wage hike, is not for the workers to solve but for the government and the capitalist class which failed to address problems of chronic poverty and inequality in the country for decades. 

And certainly, keeping minimum wages at starvation level perpetuates the problem, thus, telling minimum wage workers to sacrifice further on behalf of their poorer brothers and sisters in the working class does not solve anything except the comfort of businesses to keep their profit margins when wages are kept at bare minimum. 

The business’ arguments fail to consider the broader economic effects and undermines the crucial role of fair wages in driving sustainable growth. Contrary to their claims, raising wages will have a significant positive impact on the economy and the majority of Filipino workers.

It is vital to recognize that the well-being of workers and economic growth are interconnected. By ensuring fair wages for a significant portion of the workforce, we can create a positive ripple effect that stimulates economic activity, increases consumer spending power, and fosters social progress. The 16 percent of workers who will experience increased wages will contribute to a healthier economic climate, benefiting businesses and workers alike.

In addition, the economic benefits of wage increase can help address the persistent issue of malnutrition in the Philippines. UNICEF data reveals the severity of malnutrition in the country, with devastating consequences for the future of Filipino children. Every day, 95 children die from malnutrition, and twenty-seven out of 1,000 Filipino children do not get past their fifth birthday. Shockingly, one-third of Filipino children are stunted, meaning they are short for their age. Stunting after the age of 2 can have permanent, irreversible, and even fatal effects. Needless to say, that malnutrition is the culprit behind the country’s dismal below-average IQ ranking of the Philippines in the World Population Review 2023 (WPR). 

These distressing statistics underscore the urgent need for action. A significant wage increase plays a crucial role in combatting malnutrition by enabling families to afford nutritious food, access healthcare, and provide a better quality of life for their children. By addressing the root causes of malnutrition through improved wages, we can protect the future generation of Filipinos from the devastating effects of undernutrition.

We maintain that the first key advantage of higher wages is that workers have more money at their disposal. With increased purchasing power, workers are empowered to spend on essential goods and services, thereby driving consumer demand. This heightened consumer spending not only benefits businesses directly but also stimulate overall economic activity, contributing to a positive economic cycle.

Secondly, higher wages can foster employee loyalty and motivation. When workers are fairly compensated for their efforts, they feel valued and are more likely to be engaged and productive in their roles. This improved productivity can enhance business efficiency and output, further bolstering economic growth.

Likewise, a workforce with higher wages projects stability and helps attract investments. Investors are drawn to countries or regions where workers have decent wages, as it signifies a stable and growing consumer base. Such countries are viewed as favorable investment destinations due to the potential for increased sales and profitability. By implementing higher wages, nations can position themselves as attractive markets for both domestic and foreign investment, spurring economic development and job creation.

Therefore, it is crucial for policymakers and businesses to recognize that investing in workers through higher wages yields significant long-term benefits. The positive effects cascade throughout the economy, generating a multiplier effect that contributes to overall prosperity. 

Friday, May 19, 2023

Nagkaisa joins call for re-nationalization of national grid, gov’t takeover of Malampaya



The country’s biggest labor coalition joins the mounting call for the re-nationalization of the national transmission assets in the wake of recurring power interruptions hitting Luzon and now extending into the entire Visayas grid.

We are aware that it is not only the businesses which bear the cost of the diminishing power supply situation, but more so the working class who are made to suffer the 20-40% increase in electricity inflation due to rising fuel costs in power generation, coupled with inefficiencies and transmission-related problems.  

For several decades now, workers witnessed how public utilities handed over to private corporations led mainly to wealth transfers from public to private rather than to better and more affordable services. We see them in power, water, and even telcos whose private owners wallow in profit, even during the pandemic, while much of the public remain energy poor and lacking adequate water and telco services. 

However, we call on the senators who want to get rid of Chinese control in the NGCP to extend the shakedown and reforms to local consortiums who wield monopoly or cartel power in the unbundled sectors of the industry.

We refuse to believe that simply getting these industries back to Filipinos would automatically translate to pro-worker and pro-people policies, until the State ensures it in the name of the people through sound regulation, or through democratization via people’s participation in running these industries and the whole economy as well. 

The same framework should be applied on the issue of Malampaya, which extended operations should have been restructured to promote national ownership, or socialization of its assets in favor of alternative utilization that would address both the country’s need for revenue as well as its planned transition to sustainable development. 

Unfortunately, those opportunities were all lost with the takeover of Dennis Uy and Ricky Razon. 

Friday, May 12, 2023

NAGKAISA is Not Suprised, Welcomes Acquital of Sen De Lima



The Nagkaisa Labor Coalition is elated with former Sen. Leila De Lima's victory for justice in the Philippines.

Anim na taon, subalit hindi tayo sumusuko! We are happy and delighted to know that Senator Leila de Lima, who has long been an advocate for social justice and human rights, has been acquitted in two of the three drug-related cases lodged against her. This outcome, while long overdue, brings us much closer to the justice we have always sought.

Her acquittal was long overdue. Thus, we are not surprised by her acquittal, as we are aware from the start that the charges against her were fabricated by those in power

The saying goes, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice." These recent verdicts affirm this belief, proving that justice, although delayed, can eventually prevail.

Senator de Lima's plight has been a microcosm of the challenges faced by those who dare to challenge the status quo and fight for justice, equality, and freedom. Her courage and resilience amid these trials are truly commendable and serve as a beacon of hope for all those who value democracy and the rule of law.

However, the journey is not yet over. As the third case against Senator de Lima is still under trial, we strongly call on the judiciary to grant her the right to post bail. We believe in her innocence and that she must be accorded due process.

We stand in solidarity with Senator de Lima, as well as all individuals who have been unjustly accused and whose freedoms have been unfairly curtailed. We will continue to fight for justice, fairness, and the protection of our democratic principles.

Sunday, May 7, 2023

Nagkaisa Labor Coalition Urges Gov't to Take Bold Steps to Address Workers' Issues, as Philippines Among 24 Shortlisted Countries for Examination in the ILO Geneva Conference in June

The lagest labor coalition in the country is calling on the Marcos administration to take concrete actions to address the issues and concerns of workers, as the country is among the 24 shortlisted countries for examination during the upcoming International Labour Conference (ILC) in Geneva in June. This comes as the Philippines marks its 75th year of membership in the International Labour Organization (ILO).

The Nagkaisa Labor Coalition highlights that the Philippines is included in the long list of ILO Committee on the Application of Standards (CAS) due to 69 reported killings of trade union leaders and organizers, and about 400 other violations of Convention 87. 

Nagkaisa holds that  the lack of representation from workers and employers in the current Executive Order 23 (EO23) signed by President Bongbong Marcos also contributed to the Philippines' inclusion in the list.

While it is a positive step forward, the current EO23 fails to address the significant problem that workers face in exercising their freedom to form unions or associations. To address this issue, the coalition proposes its amendments to transform it into a tripartite commission, consisting of representatives from the government and representatives from workers and employers groups in accordance with the principle of "tripartism and social dialogue" of ILO Convention 144 and the principles  of "shared responsibility" and "participation in decision-making' under the Constitution and the Labor Code . This body would serve as the primary mechanism for addressing worker issues and seeking justice for the countless victims of violations of Freedom of Association (FOA) and Trade Union (TU) rights.

Trade unions  heard Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma  on his call to proposed solutions or positive actions. Thus, Nagkaisa urgges him to schedule a meeting with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for trade union leaders to present personally the proposed amendments to the EO and other suggestions in order to improve the situation of workers and hold those accountable for violations of FOA and TU rights.

The coalition emphasizes that unless the government takes substantial steps to demonstrate its intention to heed the recommendations of the ILO High-Level Tripartite Mission (HLTM) beyond the issuance of  EO23, the country will undoubtedly face scrutiny by the ILO.

It is time for the government to act and demonstrate its dedication to upholding the principles of decent work and social justice for all.

Saturday, April 29, 2023

Labor coalition tells union allies to encourage Biden to remind BBM of need to respect workers’ rights in the Philippines



Because President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has opted to visit US President Joe Biden rather than meet Philippine labor groups on Labor Day to discuss mounting economic and labor rights concerns, the Nagkaisa labor coalition sent appeals instead to its trade union allies in the US to encourage Biden to remind Marcos of the need to restore the free exercise of labor rights in the Philippines amid widespread violations during the Duterte administration as confirmed by the recent ILO High Level Tripartite Mission in its report.

Official advisory of the Marcos-Biden meeting on Labor Day stated security as well as trade and investment as main subjects of the bilateral talk. 

The Biden administration, as explained by embassy officials during a meeting with Philippine trade unions early this month, is pushing for a “worker-centered” trade policy. 

“But how can PH workers benefit from any trade talks with the US when all the coercive instruments instituted by the Duterte regime is kept intact by Marcos Jr.? For us, for trade to be worker-centered, it has to redound to the benefit of workers,” said Nagkaisa Chair Atty. Sonny Matula. 

But anticipating a rather security-focused Marcos-Biden meeting, labor groups in Nagkaisa has requested their counterparts in the USA, the same groups that led the filing of a GSP complaint in December 2022, to urge Biden in their trade talks to encourage Marcos Jr to demonstrate seriousness in addressing the long-standing concerns of the labor movement, starting with taking concrete steps to realize the recommendations of the ILO HLTM. 

“All it takes for President Marcos Jr. to show its seriousness on trade and labor is for him to issue an Executive Order establishing the Presidential Commission on Freedom of Association,” insisted Matula. 

According to Matula, trade union leaders and organizers have faced lethal violence, with 68, or 69 now with the most recent case in Negros, who were killed since 2016. 

“The situation seems to hark back to the 18th or 19th century, as if unionizing is still considered a crime. But with President Marcos opting to visit US President Biden rather than meet with Philippine unions to talk about this issue this coming Labor Day, we hope he learns from Biden’s Presidential Task Force on union organizing that supports union revitalization in the US, and hopes that upon his return a decision is made to establish a Presidential Commission on Freedom of Association in the Philippines, as recommended in the ILO-HTLM report.”

Aside from labor rights and the creation of a Presidential Commission on Freedom of Association, the Nagkaisa and the unified Labor Day action by All Philippine Trade Unions on Monday would also raise demands for immediate wage hike, an end to ‘endo’ or contractualization and creation of decent jobs, as well as provisions of quality public services, including those for women and the youth. ###

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Nagkaisa hits attempt to delay further the release of Sen. De Lima

Former Sen Delima has been in detention for six years, and the saying "justice delayed is justice denied" rings true in this situation, stated the country’s largest labor coalition Nagkaisa.

Nagkaisa has keenly observed and followed De Lima’s trial for the past six years. The group today opposes the reopening and sudden motion for presentation of a rebuttal testimony in Delima's case after the case had already been submitted for decision. 

The prosecution and defense teams even shook hands and even hugged Senator De Lima after the final hearing as they looked forward for the resolution to be handed down on May 12.  

“All parties seemed content as they agreed to have the case submitted for decision, but in the next day the prosecution suddenly swerved and made a u-turn, dahil ‘hindi pa raw sila tapos’. Clearly, this action is not only preposterous but also a violation of criminal procedures and the right to a speedy trial,” explained Nagkaisa Chair Atty. Sonny Matula.

This sudden development, he added, is perplexing, and the prosecution's actions send a negative image of our justice system.

“Ang ginawang ito ng mga taga-usig ay nagbibigay din ng maling mensahe sa pandaigdigang komunidad, lalo na sa ating mga kaugnayan sa kalakalan at human rights community, na umaasa sa mga pahayag ng administrasyon ni Marcos na ito ay mas mahusay kumpara sa nakaraang pamahalaan,” said Matula.

Nagkaisa joined with the defense in opposing the motion, describing it as “politically motivated” rather than “legally substantive”, which the group said, was the main weakness of the multiple drug cases filed by the Duterte administration against the opposition senator.

Any further delay, the labor group argues, not only undermine the rule of law but also send a negative message to the international community, potentially affecting employment and investment in the country.

Lastly, further delay may discourage local and foreign investors from entering the market due to our unstable administration of justice.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Nagkaisa supports creation of high-level commissions to probe drug war and trade union killings

The country’s biggest labor coalition supports the proposition to create a high-level commission for drug war probe, along with similar proposal by all trade union and labor organizations to establish a Presidential commission as well as a truth commission to investigate the killings of trade union leaders. 

Nagkaisa stressed out that aside from the thousands of victims of so-called extrajudicial killings (EJKs) under drug war, some 68 trade union leaders and organizers were also killed during the Duterte administration who equally deserve the same level of attention and justice. 

“These trade union killings, along with the more than 400 case related to violation of freedom of association were among the grounds for the International Labor Organization-High-Level Tripartite Mission’s initial recommendation for the country to set up a Presidential-led commission to investigate the same,” said Nagkaisa Chair Sonny Matula. 

The group looks with approval Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra's suggestion to create an independent commission to investigate the thousands of drug war killings, similarly with Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban’s idea of creating a modern-day Agrava Board.

The group, however, emphasized that this probe body on drug war, if constituted, should not be seen as an alternative to the International Criminal Court (ICC) ongoing investigation but primarily for purposes only of fact finding, identifying the victims, investigating the individual culprits and assist in their prosecution.

Nagkaisa likewise countered Secrtary Remulla’s rejection of the proposal, saying the Department of Justice (DOJ) cannot handle the investigation fairly and swiftly given the massive scale of the killings that need to be investigated. Officially, 6,252 were killed during the drug war from July 2016 to May 2022, according to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency. Human rights groups have, however, reported as many as 30,000 people killed in the Duterte administration’s campaign against illegal drugs.

“We believe that a credible, competent, and independent body like the proposed modern-day Agrava Board is necessary to investigate and prosecute the killings, identify the masterminds, and observe speed and due process in passing judgment,” said Matula.

The labor leader said further that the establishment of the high-level commission on drug war and the proposed presidential commission to investigate the killings of trade union leaders, “are significant steps towards addressing the human rights concerns surrounding the drug war and other forms of violence in the Philippines,” adding that the government's efforts to investigate and hold accountable those responsible for these killings will be crucial in restoring public trust in the justice system. ###

Nagkaisa Labor Coalition
19 March 2023
Ref: Atty. Sonny Matula
Chairperson

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Rising inflation, violence at work hurting women the most; women workers’ group demand immediate wage hike, ratification of ILO C190 on International Women’s Day

As the country marks the International Women’s Day on March 8, the women leaders and unionists of the NAGKAISA Labor Coalition known as the NAGKAISA Women’s Committee urged the PBBM Administration to heed the workers’ demands for immediate wage increase, passage of bills to protect security of tenure and freedom of association in both the public and private sectors and ratification of the ILO Convention 190.

Rising inflation has become an urgent concern as workers struggle to survive amid soaring cost of commodities and services. The NAGKAISA Women’s Committee underscored how inflation disproportionately affects women more than men.

“While inflation hurts everyone, it hurts women more,” said Jillian Roque, Chief of Staff of the Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK). “Women workers who are already concentrated in informal, precarious, and underpaid jobs without job security and social protection have to further grapple with the impacts of skyrocketing inflation and the pandemic aftermath.”

According to Roque, inflation also contributes to widening the gender gaps and inequality in the country.

“As inflation continues to erode purchasing power, women are forced to make sacrifices for their families by starving themselves and skipping on meals, or cutting back on essential items and services including health care,” Roque said. “Stressing about ways on how to stretch their already unlivable wages and household budgets in the face of rising inflation is also exacting a toll on women’s mental health. They also end up assuming more and more care work duties – often unpaid – at home thereby worsening women’s multiple burden even more,” she added.

Contractualization also worsens gender discrimination and gender pay gaps according to Judy Miranda, Secretary General of Partido Manggagawa. She said many women are employed under “End-of-contract” or more widely known as ENDO arrangements which pay cheaper wages and accord lesser benefits.

“Contractualization is being used by employers as a way to skirt on their obligations to regular workers such as social and health benefits including reproductive health benefits of women workers,” said Miranda.

She pointed out that ENDO workers both in the private and public sectors are deprived of their fundamental rights to stable employment and freedom of association making them more vulnerable to exploitation. “Pregnant women and nursing mothers in contractual employment for example are not able to assert their rights at work because employers can simply refuse to renew their contracts,” she said.

Since assuming the presidency last year, PBBM has been slammed by workers’ groups for his lack of labor agenda. The coalition believes that the President should finally step-up to the plate and take action on wages and security of tenure. “The PBBM admin should prioritize raising wages and reforming the existing wage setting mechanism which has persistently failed the workers and exacerbated pay gaps. The President should also certify as urgent the passage of the pro-worker security of tenure bills and strengthen freedom of association starting by enacting the long overdue Public Service Labor Relations Act,” Miranda said.

The coalition also lamented the increasing violence against women workers citing the recent cases of migrant domestic workers in Kuwait including Myla Balbag who was left paralyzed after jumping from the third floor in order to escape from her abusive employer and Jullebee Ranara whose body was burnt and left in a desert as examples. The NAGKAISA Women’s Committee called for justice for all victims of physical abuse, sexual abuse and other forms of violence and the immediate ratification of the International Labor Organization’s Convention 190 on the Elimination of Violence and Harassment in the World of Work.

“Our sisters continue to face the daily reality of violence in their homes, communities, and workplaces,” said Nice Coronacion, Deputy General Secretary of SENTRO. “It is important that we push for mechanisms that help protect working women from the various threats, risks, and dangers we face. To this end, the ratification of the ILO C190 is essential for setting-up the policies and environment that will protect women and help us in the assertion of our rights. While C190 on its own is obviously not the solution, it is a step in the right direction that will benefit all workers, especially women wherever we are — be it at home, at work, or in public,” she explained.

The labor coalition also reminded the government to comply with its international obligations particularly ILO Conventions 87, 98 and 151 on freedom of association and collective bargaining and act on the recommendations of the ILO High Level Tripartite Mission which investigated the grave violations on freedom of association in the country early this year.

“Among the victims of killings, enforced disappearances, union repression and red-tagging are women workers from across all sectors of labor,” Ma. Victoria Bellosillo of the Federation of Free Workers said. “We urge the BBM administration to swiftly implement the ILO HLTM recommendations particularly the establishment of a Presidential Commission focused on stopping killings and other grave violations of the right to organize of workers.”

The NAGKAISA! Labor Coalition members including FFW, PM, PSLINK and SENTRO are organizing various mass actions along with other labor groups and women’s rights organizations on March 8 to highlight women workers’ rights including protest actions at the Department of Labor and Employment and the Department of Justice and a broad mobilization at the Liwasang Bonifacio.

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Nagkaisa’s unsolicited advice to President Marcos: Accept ICC investigation on EJKs during Duterte ‘war on drugs’



Manila, Philippines - The Nagkaisa Labor Coalition called on the Marcos Jr Administration to accept the International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation on the extra-judicial killings (EJKs) that happened during the anti-drug operations under the Duterte administration.

The biggest labor group in the country expressed its concern over the recent development that the Marcos administration or some of its officials have opposed the ICC's investigation into the EJKs from the drug war, calling it an "unwarranted and outrageous interference" into the country's sovereignty.

“We are disappointed with the recent manifestation of the House of representatives led by former former President and Senior Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and some lawmakers seemingly defending the anti-drug war of Duterte and the attendant EJKs. It was during her time that capital punishment was abolished, and this commitment to upholding human rights and the rule of law is a legacy that the Philippines must uphold,”
Nagkaisa said. 

This move by lawmakers came after the ICC's pre-trial chamber recently authorized the resumption of an investigation into the killings under Duterte's drug war, since it's 'not satisfied that the Philippines is undertaking relevant investigations that would warrant a deferral of the Court's investigations on the basis of the complementarity principle.
 
Nagkaisa emphasized that the ICC's investigation into the extrajudicial killings is necessary to uphold the rule of law and ensure that justice is served.

We beg to disagree as the Philippines needs to comply with its treaty commitment which already forms part of our legal system despite withdrawal in 2019,” Nagkaisa said. 

Nagkaisa stressed that the ICC Pre-trial chamber's authorization for the resumption of investigation is not a violation of Philippine sovereignty, but rather an exercise of its treaty obligation under the Rome Statute, which the Philippines ratified in 2011.

The Rome Statute provides that the ICC may investigate and prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crimes of aggression.

"We are of the opinion the ICC's investigation is not a threat to Philippine sovereignty. Rather, it will strengthen respect for human rights in the country as well, as it is a legitimate exercise of the ICC of its mandate under the Rome Statute, to which the Philippines was once a signatory. It is also consistent with the country's obligations under the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (1969),” Nagkaisa added. 

The subject of investigation covers cases from  2011 to 2018 when the country was still a member of the ICC. That period is covered by the jurisdiction of the ICC and the Philippine government has the obligation to cooperate and bring those responsible for EJKs to the bar of justice.

Nagkaisa also responded to concerns that the ICC's investigation would undermine the Philippine justice system. 

“The ICC's intervention does not mean that the Philippine justice system is incapable of delivering justice. It only means that the ICC is stepping in, due to a special circumstance because the domestic justice system has failed to hold perpetrators accountable and provide justice for the victims of extra-judicial killings related to the anti-drug wars,” Nagkaisa added. 

Nagkaisa urged the Philippine government to uphold its obligation to protect the human rights of its citizens and to work with the ICC during its investigation. 

“We hold that EJKs are not state policy and those responsible for such killings be held accountable. In fact, capital punishment was abolished in the Philippines by Republic Act No. 9346, which was signed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on June 24, 2006. In line with the country's commitment to the abolition of the death penalty, the Philippines signed the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” Nagkaisa said. 

The protocol commits its members to the abolition of the death penalty within their borders. The Optional Protocol was signed on September 20, 2006, and ratified on November 20, 2007.

The foregoing commitment demonstrates the Philippines' respect for human rights and the rule of law, which the ICC seeks to uphold in its investigation into extrajudicial killings.

"We hope that this administration will listen to our unsolicited advice and take the necessary actions to address this issue. It is only through accountability and justice that we can truly build a better society,” Nagkaisa said.  

Last month, the government took a positive step towards achieving justice for victims of EJKs of workers in particular, by accepting the ILO High Level Tripartite Mission. 

“We hope the government implements all of the recommendations of the ILO HLTM and give its commitment to serve justice for the slain workers and their families. Consistent with this commitment, it should also accept with open arms the ICC investigation,” Nagkaisa said. 

The Nagkaisa is the broadest coalition of labor groups and workers' organizations in the Philippines, representing hundreds of thousands of workers across the country. It is committed to promoting the rights and welfare of Filipino workers, and to advancing their interests in the workplace and in society.

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

LABOR GROUP SLAMS GOV'T FOR USING SSS LAW TO ARREST ACTIVIST PROF



The biggest coalition of labor unions in the country, lambasted the recent government ill action to weaponize the Social Security System (SSS) law for the purpose of arresting a teachers'  union officer and activist professor from the University of the Philippines (UP)-Diliman. 

The professor, identified as Melania Flores, of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) was cited for allegedly failing to remit SSS contributions for her kasamabahay, in violation of Republic Act No. 8282 (now RA 11199) or the Social Security Act. This resulted in the Quezon City Police Department (QCPD) labeling her as a "most wanted person" and seeking a warrant from Judge Maria Gilda Loja-Pangilinan of Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 230 last September.

Nagkaisa Labor Coalition asserts that the government's actions are an abuse of power and an attempt to silence critical voices in society. The coalition calls for an immediate end to the misuse of the SSS law and urges the Marcos administration not to use a welfare law to silence trade union leaders and activists.

"The government's actions demonstrate a blatant disregard for basic human rights and the rule of law. Using the SSS law as a weapon to arrest individuals for political reasons is unacceptable and must be condemned in the strongest terms," said Nagkaisa Labour Coaltion.

The arrest of the trade union activist happened at the heels of the ILO High Level Tripartite Mission to the Philippines at the end of January that cited authorities for long standing cases of killings, arrest on trumped up charges, red tagging and other forms of violence against trade union leaders and organizers. 

Nagkaisa demands that  the government respect the rights and freedoms of all individuals, including trade unionists, activists and academics, and uphold its obligation to promote and protect human rights in the Philippines.
  
Assuming there was a violation of the SSS law, the coalition holds that the authorities should not have violated due process and the UP-DILG Memorandum of Agreement, which prohibits the police forces from entering the UP campus without the knowledge of the university authorities.

While the SSS has records of big employers who failed to remit millions if not billions of pesos in SSS contributions for hundreds of thousands of workers, with the companies’ officers or board of directors having pending arrest warrants, the government has not taken action against them. Instead, the authorities are focusing on a trade union activist professor who allegedly failed to remit SSS contributions for her domestic worker. Nagkaisa raises concerns about due process and equal protection under the law.

Lastly, this statement does not condone non-remittance of SSS contributions. Nagkaisa calls for all employers to remit their employers. Under Republic Act 11199, failure or refusal to comply with the provisions of the SSS law by the employer is punishable by a fine ranging from PHP 5,000.00 to PHP 20,000.00 or imprisonment for a minimum of 6 years and 1 day and a maximum of 12 years, at the discretion of the court. In case of failure to register employees or deduct and remit SSS contributions, the penalty shall be a fine of not less than PHP 5,000.00 nor more than PHP 20,000.00 and imprisonment for not less than 6 years and 1 day nor more than 12 years. In case the employer deducted the SSS contribution but failed to remit it, the imposable penalty shall be that provided under Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code on Estafa, which provides imprisonment not exceeding 20 years.

- Nagkaisa! Labor Coalition 

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Philippine Supreme Court upholds delivery riders’ services

Services performed by bike riders are integral to the businesses of their employers, the top court says




The Supreme Court in the Philippines recognized the services of motorcycle riders delivering goods as regular employees and ordered their employers to provide them with full benefits.

In a verdict on Jan. 23, the top court overturned a decision of a lower court that dismissed a petition from bike riders seeking the regularization of their jobs from their employer.

“Picking up and delivering goods from the warehouse to buyers do not call for specific expertise. It is also not shown that riders were hired due to their unique ability or competency... Lazada had control over the means and methods of the performance of the work of the petitioners, as reflected in the way they carried out their work,” the apex court said.

The court referred to a petition from five bike riders under the contracts of the business group, Lazada E-Services Philippines, who waged a legal battle to have their employment and benefits from their employer.

NAGKAISA, a labor coalition group and the Federation of Free Workers, welcomed the Supreme Court verdict.

“The Supreme Court has once again put flesh and blood to the constitutional provision of protection to labor and upholds the fundamental right of workers to a regular job,” the federation’s lawyer and president Sonny Matula told UCA News.

Matula said the ruling was a victory for workers and a “nightmare” to those who took advantage of laborers and denied benefits to them.

“This is a victory for the workers. The Court made it clear that the protection of labor and the guarantee of security of tenure are not mere embellishments in a parchment that can be ignored like wallpapers on the wall. They are fundamental rights that should be enjoyed by workers in real life,” Matula added.

In 2016, petitioners and riders Chrisden Cabrera Ditiangkin, Hendrix Masamayor Molines, Harvey Mosquito Juanio, Joselito Castro Verde, and Brian Anthony Cubacub Nabong challenged the ruling of the appellate court that they were not regular employees of a delivery company.

Their employer, Lazada E-Services Philippines, said petitioners were “independent contractors” that did not deserve the security of tenure.

“We were hired by Lazada as riders primarily tasked to pick up items from sellers and deliver them to Lazada’s warehouse with 1,200 pesos (US$24) per day as service fee for one year,” petitioner and rider Molines told UCA News.

Molines and fellow riders lost the case in the labor commission and the appellate court. They moved the Supreme Court for a final appeal.

In overruling the appellate court’s decision, the Supreme Court said that riders cannot be considered independent contractors because they did not perform any specific skill or talent.

The Supreme Court also said that the services performed by petitioners are integral to the business of their employer, with the delivery of items integrated with the services offered, thus rendering regular services to the company.

Another delivery rider Josh Perano said the new ruling would give his family peace of mind, especially because as a regular employee, he now enjoys the security of tenure.

“Now my delivery company could not just fire me, and I don’t need to worry if I will still have a job after three months or a year. Even if I earn less than 1,000 pesos [US$20] a day, I have a secured job,” Perano told UCA News.

In 2021, the Philippines had more than 4 million registered motorbikes, and about 10,000 bikers were engaged in delivery services, according to the Philippine Land Transportation Office.

“The number has doubled during the pandemic when Filipino households decided not to go to malls and restaurants to avoid contamination from Covid-19,” rider Mike Guzman told UCA News.

The Catholic Bishops Conference said the Social Action Commission has organized a committee to oversee the rights and needs of bike riders- a booming labor sector in the country.

“We have already formed a Commission to make sure that the rights of workers are protected especially those who engage in this kind of work are really the poor Filipinos,” the commission secretary Father James Oredain told UCA News.  

“More than their rights, of course, we bring them closer to Christ through spiritual formation,” the priest added. - By UCA News reporter


Monday, January 23, 2023

Labor groups report PHL govt’s rights violations vs workers to ILO mission



PHILIPPINE TRADE unions submitted a joint report on Monday to the International Labor Organization (ILO) on recent human rights violations and cases of harassment against workers and union organizers.  

In the 155-page report, the groups highlighted what they called the consistent failure of the Philippine government to comply with ILO conventions on freedom of association and the right to organize.  

“These institutional failures are punctuated by periodic surges of extreme forms of trade union repression including killings, violent harassment and intimidations inflicted upon trade unionists,” the labor groups said. 

The report detailed incidents such as the killing of labor union leader Emmanuel Asuncion, who was shot to death during police raids in 2021; cases of harassment and tagging labor activists as violent communists; and trumped-up charges filed against labor activists. 

Last week, the Philippine Justice department cleared 17 police officers accused of involvement in Mr. Asuncion’s death as government prosecutors did not find probable cause to charge the cops with the crime.  

Federation of Free Workers (FFW) President Jose “Sonny” G. Matula earlier said government agents did not do enough to ensure the prosecution of the officers involved in the labor leader’s murder.  

FFW and Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) were among the labor groups that provided information on rights violations for the report.   

ILO representatives Thomas Mikael Janson (Government), Felix Mark Anthony (Workers) and Scott Barklamb (Employers) will hold dialogues with labor groups and employers from Jan. 23 to 26.  

Following its mission, the team of officials will propose recommendations on improving the conditions of Filipino workers to the Philippine government.  

Labor groups on Monday said the ILO’s mission should lead to new policies that would uphold the basic rights of workers and stop instances of violence against them.

“What we want is the protection of our Constitutional right to freedom of association — this includes putting an end to the killings and resolving ongoing cases of rights violations,” KMU Chairperson Elmer C. Labog said in a statement on Monday.  

“This requires policy changes from the government, which is why we also urge the ILO to call the attention of the Marcos Jr. administration on these violations.” 

The Nagkaisa labor coalition said in a separate statement that the ILO officials will meet with 52 trade union officials, while government officials and representatives from the employer sector would also meet with the team separately.  

“The mission, organized by the International Labor Organization, is a crucial opportunity for the Philippines to show its dedication to promoting freedom of association, decent work, and better working conditions for its citizens,” Nagkaisa said. - By John Victor D. OrdoƱez, Reporter 

Saturday, January 7, 2023

Labor coalition rejects outright privatization of NAIA and Edsa Busway



The NAGKAISA Labor Coalition expressed opposition to customized proposals to privatize everything like the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and the EDSA busway carousel.

“We believe that privatization is not a panacea or an all-out solution to our public transportation problems, and we don’t subscribe to the idea that a privatized transport system is a global standard,” emphasized Nagkaisa Chair Atty. Sonny Matula, saying the state of mass transport systems even in advanced economies remain publicly run and efficiently managed. 

The labor leader said workers won’t simply accept the template of outright privatization as cure to mismanagement, corruption, and bad governance by those in power, and to belie reports that DOTR’s proposal to privatize the Edsa Busway has the support of both business groups and trade unions.

The government, he stressed, must retain control of our international airports, and may opt to consider other models like cooperatives for the operation of the EDSA busway carousel. 

“There are many examples of successful public transportation systems and airports around the world that are owned and controlled by the state, such as those in Japan, Switzerland, Germany, Singapore, and Canada. Even the US hasn’t embraced privatization for running its 5,000 public airports, while our neighbor Hong Kong maintains the world’s best in mass transport system. These systems and airports provide affordable and efficient transportation options for the public, while also serving as a vital source of public income and employment,” said Matula.

As in the case of the Edsa Busway carousel, the group said the free ride was very beneficial to the working people in terms of saved income and travel time. “Transforming the system into a cooperative- run busway or tramway may create alternative economy, as well as synergy to both the coop workers and the commuting public than the typical ‘seller-buyer’ relationship under the privately-run utilities that we had over the past several decades,” added Matula. 

Matula said the coalition is raising this point as regular dialogues with the government on important policies and programs is part of Nagkaisa’s 5-Point Labor Agenda. The others include wage hike and reforms in the country’s wage-fixing mechanisms, end to endo and the full exercise of trade union rights. 

“We want the government to avoid fixation with privatization as there are other alternatives to it especially when mechanisms for genuine people’s participation in policy decisions are activated.  We believe that by working together, we can find a solution that benefits everyone, rather than just select tycoons,” said Matula.

NAGKAISA urges the government to listen to the concerns of the people and to prioritize the needs of the public over private interests. 

“We stand with the working class and the people in calling for an efficient and equitable transportation system that serves the needs of all Filipinos. What the country needs is a strong, accountable, comprehensive, responsive, effective, and democratic public services,” concluded Matula. ###

PRESS STATEMENT
07 January 2023
NAGKAISA LABOR COALITION