Disgruntled workers to show dismay
at Mendiola on Labor Day

May 1, 2013

Unable to hear what they wanted the President to say, labor groups from the largest alliance of workers in the Philippines, Nagkaisa! will troop to Mendiola to demand for higher wages, security of tenure and an end to harassment of union leaders on Labor Day.

“Instead of hearing wage and non-wage benefits, the President announced no wages and no benefits for workers on Labor Day,” said Atty. Sonny Matula, President of the Federation of Free Workers (FFW), a convenor of Nagkaisa!.

“The country boasts of having the highest growth rate in the region at 6.6 per cent, record highs in the stock market and increased international credit ratings. All these mean nothing since workers received no significant wage increase, nor were there enough new decent jobs created--contrary to the inclusive growth Mantra of the administration,” Matula said.

In a meeting with Labor leaders on the eve of Labor Day, President Benigno “PNoy” Aquino III did not announce any wage increase as expected, while denying the demand of workers for more tax relief and justifying the increase in social security contributions.

Contractualization as a state policy?

In the same meeting, the President also said that he cannot certify as urgent the Security of Tenure Bill since it violates the law as he understands it. 

“Ang maaari ko lamang agad na sertipikahan ay ang mga panukalang tumutugon sa public calamity o kaya ay emergency (I can only certify as urgent bills that respond to calamities or emergencies), President Aquino said.

Matula said the President might have taken the call to certify as urgent the security of tenure bill too technically. “In case the President hasn’t noticed, contractualization IS a calamity for many workers and saving jobs is an emergency. 

“By turning down the Security of Tenure Bill he might be indirectly supporting contractualization as a state policy,” Matula said.

 “We wanted to hear his support for security of tenure of workers since contractualization has become a widespread instrument of exploitation,” Matula said. 

In his speech, President Aquino pitted the 1.8 million workers who according to him will benefit from the proposed measure against an estimated 10 million workers who will lose their jobs. 

On the contrary, the FFW insists that the proposed measure will preserve jobs.


Harassment of workers

On Friday, police forces arrested a trade union leader of the FFW at the Malayan Towage and Salvage Corporation in Batangas City late in the afternoon of Friday, when the courts were already closed for posting a bail.

FFW trade union leader Ramil Estolloso was arrested by the personnel of the Philippine National Police (PNP) while he was at work on board Tugboat M/T Charger and got detained for alleged attempted homicide at the PNP Headquarters in Pagbilao, Quezon.

The charge is fabricated and was only made in retaliation to trade union organizing of the FFW at the towing company with 400 workers operating all over the country.

“This is a violation of the PNP Guidelines on the Respect of Worker's Right to Self-Organization which was signed last year in the presence of top officials the International Labor Organization (ILO), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Commission on Human Rights (CHR), the FFW and other labor groups."

"The prosecutor responsible for the filing of information on charges related to or arising from a labor dispute in court without clearance from the DOLE or Office of the President may be held administratively liable for violation of Circular No. 15 series 1982 and Circular No. 9 series of 1986 of the DOJ", Matula added.

Around 30 other FFW trade union officers face trumped-up criminal charges related to union organizing in court or at the prosecutors' office.

FFW calls on the secretaries of DOLE and DOJ to give attention to these cases and take corrective measures to ensure the respect for freedom of association in law and practice in the Philippines.

"It's a pity that this even happened just a few days before Labor Day. This gives the FFW and the labor movement more reason to flock to the streets to condemn this injustice," Matula added.

Earlier this year, trade union leaders of the Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA) were also arrested for trumped up charges emanating from the one a half year strike at the airline.

The FFW condemns these acts of arrest as violations of ILO Conventions 87 and 98 on freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining. These are also violations of Section 8 Article III of the Philippine Constitution, which says that the right of the people to organize unions and associations not contrary to law shall not be abridged.



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