Unions decry deceptive, vague ‘labor agenda’ of APEC

apec

ORGANIZED workers sneered at the so-called labor agenda in the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Manila next month by describing it as deceptive and vague, which merely reaffirms APEC’s ideology based on the primacy of corporate power and profits over labor and trade union rights.

Trade unionists belonging to the national labor center Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (Sentro) joined today the broad-based and multisectoral People’s Forum on APEC (PFA 2015) in flocking to the Mendiola Bridge near Malacañang to banner the calls of “APEC kills workers’ and people’s rights.”

Despite finally including “labor concerns” among the four official priority agenda in the APEC Economic Leaders Meeting (AELM) on Nov. 18-19 under “Investing in Human Capital Development,” it remains a lame and ineffective attempt to muddle the plight of the workers and to appease their growing discontent, Josua Mata, Sentro secretary general, said.

“APEC is again using euphemisms and obfuscations – from the widely known business jargon of HRD or human resource development to its more recent clone of HCD or human capital development – to cover up its ulterior aim of levelling up the already rampant labor contractualization, which further swells the ranks of the ‘precariats’ or the impoverished and disempowered workers or proletariats with precarious jobs,” Mata added.

“This corporate mumbo jumbo is part of the neoliberal alphabet soup on how to further enrich the global corporations and the few elites because HCD like HRD is still based on the capitalist or market economy’s twisted concepts on purported efficiency, competitiveness, profitability and workers’ discipline; thus, the need for more non-regular jobs, lower wages and benefits, and the reining in of the unions,” Mata explained.

This thrust was somewhat echoed in the joint statement of the APEC Structural Reform Ministerial Meeting last Sept. 7-8 in Cebu City, when the supposedly “rising labor costs” were again used as a scapegoat or blamed for “restricting (the) ability” of some APEC member economies, including the Philippines, “to graduate out of (their) middle income status.”

PFA 2015 acts as a parallel and alternative assembly to the official APEC gathering and highlights grassroots’ stand on workers’ and trade union rights; trade, investment and finance; climate and environment; social impacts on class, gender and empowerment; peace and security; and democracy and human rights.

The AELM is being hosted by the Philippine government following its hosting of a similar summit in 1996 in Subic Bay Freeport, which was also hounded by protests from local and international anti-APEC and anti-neoliberal globalization groups.

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