Tag Archives: Nagkaisa!

Labor groups push for ‘just transition’ in March for Climate Justice

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Echoing the view of global trade unions that a shift to lower carbon economy is not just necessary but inevitable to address the worsening climate crisis, the coalition of labor groups Nagkaisa marched with multisectoral groups in the March for Climate Justice held in Quezon City this morning.

The group denounces corporate greed for spawning both a humanitarian and environmental crisis as manifested in the intensification of exploitative working conditions and the acceleration of climate change.

“When corporations rule under the framework of unlimited greed, workers endure the worst kind of exploitation. And when climate crisis worsened as tons of carbon are emitted into the atmosphere by oil and energy companies, mining and other hard industries, everyone suffers the brunt most particularly the poor people living in most vulnerable countries like the Philippines,” said Nagkaisa in a statement.

The group pointed out that while the country is less in carbon emission, her position of vulnerability can generate a powerful voice for demanding climate justice during negotiations.

“Unfortunately our government tailgated weakly behind the US position of simply having Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) process instead of playing hardball in pressing a return to binding cuts based on science and common but differential responsibility and which will limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius,” lamented Nagkaisa.

The group said that even with INDC process and actual submissions, the UNEP still anticipates a 4-6 degrees Celsius, rendering the COP ineffective.

Workers were also apprehensive of the fact that while governments are active in climate negotiations, the next one in Paris next week, most of them didn’t have a clear framework on how to fine-tune this transition to lower carbon economy in a manner acceptable to the people.

Nagkaisa is pushing the framework for a ‘just transition’ which promotes social justice and employment, requires active government intervention, and demands proportionate responsibility from all stakeholders, including business.

“The Philippines, for instance, has not explicitly declared a timeline to when fossil-fuelled power plants are finally phased out so that the transition is clearly plotted in favour of renewable energy and the creation of climate jobs,” the group said.

The coalition believes further that thousands of climate jobs can be created in the country in the shift to renewable energy, disaster response and building climate resilient communities that includes resettlement in climate-proof buildings and housing projects, as well as the greening of mass transport system.

“Funding is main requirement for this shift. In climate negotiations, the rich industrial nations must be made responsible in funding the transition of most vulnerable nations,” the group added.

Meanwhile, Nagkaisa said transition policies should not, in any way, transgress into the framework of decent work since regular job and social security help build the resiliency of many people against the wrath of Mother Nature.

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NAGKAISA labor coalition calls on creation of a tripartite labor laws compliance inspection task force

#Justice4KentexWorkers! Justice for the #72workers killed at the Kentex fire!
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The lives and the scathing injury of KENTEX workers are the heavy price for the complete breakdown of government’s labor laws enforcement and for the employers’ patent disregard to the mandatory laws on wages, social protection benefits and the statutory basic workplace safety guidelines.

The KENTEX factory workers’ deaths depict the abominable culture of indifference among many public servants and profit-oriented employers to enforce existing guidelines that uphold workers’ basic rights and well-being.

Therefore, we, the undersigned convenors of the NAGKAISA Labor Coalition, collectively call on Labor Secretary Baldoz to establish a tripartite “Task Force Valenzuela” (TFV) to undertake a surprise sweep and unannounced inspection of factories and plants in the City of Valenzuela to crack down on sweatshops.

In the light of the tragedy that befell our fellow workers in KENTEX, we believe that it now becomes imperative to verify employer compliance with all existing labor laws and safety standards, fire and building structure standards and to determine compliance with all other city requirements for the issuance of business permits and operational licenses.

Justice must now not just be for the KENTEX dead and their families but also for the countless workers nationwide who labor under the same pakyawan system (piecework basis) or through unregistered and unregulated labor manning agencies, to be deployed without any statutory benefits, least of all minimum wages, into firetraps where their lives are sacrificed on the altar of profits. Disposable lives and in the case of the KENTEX workers, thrown away.

We strongly believe that the immoral and illegal activities of the KENTEX owners are actually widespread in Valenzuela, and the inspections should begin in the very factory neighborhood where the fire occurred and with those firms also serviced by the unregistered manning agency. The inspections should also cover those firms that undertook voluntary self-assessments of their labor standard compliance. It is never the best way to enforce labor or safety standards by relying on the mere “say-so” of a very self-interested employer and factory owner.

This proposed crackdown in Valenzuela will have national resonance and will hopefully, by making an example of those who will be caught, ensure that labor standard compliance will be honored more in the practice, rather than in its breach.

We urge the DOLE to seize the historical opportunity to render justice not just for the KENTEX workers but to finally break the widespread culture and practice of corporate irresponsibility that made the loss of the workers lives not just immoral but evil and criminal.

– NAGKAISA Labor Coalition

Nagkaisa seeks justice for Kentex workers, blames partial privatization of labor inspection

#Justice4KentexWorkers! Justice for the #72workers killed at the Kentex fire!
72kentex

Partial privatization of labor inspection, weak certification process and the endemic problem of corruption down to the local levels have consigned workers to precarious working conditions, including unnecessary deaths and accidents, the labor coalition Nagkaisa said in a statement.

The statement was issued in reaction to the statements made by the lawyer of Kentex Corp. and the labor department that the company has been compliant with safety standards.

Also this morning, members of Nagkaisa such as the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), Sentro ng Nakakaisang Manggagawa (Sentro), Partido Manggagawa (PM), and the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) offered flowers as an expression of sympathy and solidarity for the dead workers at the Kentex factory in Valenzuela City.

In a protest rally held afterwards, labor groups reiterated their call that aside from compensation, criminal liabilities be exacted among the perpetrators of this terrible crime, including the violation of other labor standards at Kentex.

REUTERS/Erik De Castro

REUTERS/Erik De Castro

According to Nagkaisa convenor Josua Mata, the relaxation of labor inspection through “self-assessment” under DOLE’s Department Order No. 57-04 has rendered toothless the supposedly tough safety standards required in workplaces.

The conduct of self-assessment, according to Mata, is voluntary and is based from a labor standard checklist conducted by representatives of employers and workers.

“This partial privatization of labor inspection promoted evasion rather than voluntary compliance, while self-assessment conducted by the management in generally non-unionized workplace simply won’t work,” said Mata.

This self-assessment, according to TUCP, is followed by a weaker compliance certification process under the jurisdiction of DOLE’s regional offices.

On his part, Partido Manggagawa (PM) chair Renato Magtubo noted that the DOLE’s “Labor Laws Compliance System” (LLCS) inaugurated in 2013 and the hike in the number of labor inspectors to almost 600 is still not working. An audit by the International Labor Organization in 2009 revealed that with only 193 labor inspectors to inspect 784,000 companies, an establishment gets inspected only once every 16 years.

“A big loophole in the so-called LLCS is the focus on ‘voluntary compliance’ and ‘self-assessment’ by employers. Voluntary compliance and self-assessment means that the government is asking the wolf to guard the sheep. No wonder the sheep get slaughtered,” Magtubo lamented.

BMP President Leody De Guzman averred that endemic corruption at all levels aggravates the problem of compliance.

“Regulatory capture has always been the antidote to strict compliance to regulation in this country,” said De Guzman.

Workers to PNoy: Labor justice needs powerful execution, not endless dialogue

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A big march to Malacanang with simultaneous actions in other cities nationwide marked today’s celebration of Labor Day as workers protested the government’s failure to address their bottom line issues such as jobs and job security, living wage, trade union rights, and decent working and living conditions.

In Manila, thousands of workers from different federations and labor organization comprising the Nagkaisa! coalition marched from Mabuhay Welcome Rotonda to Mendiola under the theme, “Hustisya sa Manggagawa at Sambayanan.”

The cry for justice, according to Nagkaisa!, is labor’s summation of failed engagement with President Aquino, whom the group insisted, “never stood on the side of labor since the PAL dispute in 2011” despite the rhetoric of ‘tuwid na daan’.

“President Aquino should have learned a valuable lesson from his last minute intervention on Mary Jane’s case. That in order to move a quixotic boulder up the mountaintop, a firm decision and solid determination is needed — a resolve he never had in addressing labor problems during the last five years in office,” said Partido Manggagawa (PM) chair Renato Magtubo and one of Nagkaisa! convenors.

The group disclosed earlier that none of labor’s bottom line issues such as contractualization, low wages and power rates reduction have been addressed by Malacanang after four years of dialogues.

“During the last five years we didn’t ask President Aquino to produce miracles. Yet a simple certification of pro-labor measure such as the Security of Tenure bill to regulate contractualization did not even warrant his attention,” said Frank Mero, President of Sentro ng Nagkakaisang Manggagawa (Sentro), another convenor of Nagkaisa!

Labor justice, he added, needs a powerful execution not an endless dialogue.

Another convenor, Annie Geron of the Public Services Labor Confederation (PSLINK), public sector unions are disappointed that the President was not even aware of the fact that the government bureaucracy itself is implementing a widespread and worst kind of contractualization called ‘job orders’.

However, Nagkaisa! conceded that President Aquino has earned credits for saving the life of Mary Jane Veloso. But the group said that won’t change the fact that beyond his buzzer beater intervention on Mary Jane’s behalf, many labor issues that translate into social problems like human trafficking and the exodus of Filipinos to foreign lands persist.

“Filipino are hopelessly enmeshed in an unchanging political system serving the affluent elite and betraying the destitute millions. They sense that no one is fighting for them,” said Gerard Seno, Vice President of Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP)-Nagkaisa!

Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) President accused the Aquino administration of perpetuating the old system of elite rule.

“PNoy has resolutely protected controversial allies and lifted no fingers on political dynasties. But never had he shown a grain of disposition for the working class,” said De Guzman.

Other than Manila, labor marches were also held in the cities of Cebu, Iloilo, Bacolod, Davao, General Santos, and in Cavite and Laguna provinces.

Workers up against ‘assault on labor’ on first working day of 2015

notomrtlrtfarehike

Labor groups under the coalition Nagkaisa! are set to welcome the first working day of 2015 with a protest against what they consider as government’s assault on workers’ living condition – the implementation of fare hikes in the MRT and LRT system.

The Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) proceeded with the implementation of the rate hike yesterday, amid oppositions from labor, commuter groups and legislators.

Based on surveys, lowly-paid workers and students make up the bulk of regular train riders.

Members of Partido Manggagawa (PM), Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA) and The Federation of Free Workers (FFW) will be leading the protest at the MRT Pasay-Taft station while the Sentro ng Nagkakaisang Manggagawa (SENTRO), Public Sevices Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK), PM and other members of Nagkaisa are taking the MRT North Avenue station. The Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) is taking the Cubao station.

Aside from the mass action, Nagkaisa! will be distributing leaflets explaining why commuters should reject the fire hike and how they can express their protest.

In opposing the fare hike Nagkaisa! contends that:

  • Fare hike is not meant for service upgrade but for debt payments to a private concessionaire;
  • Most of train riders belong to lowly-paid workers;
  • Government cutting MRT/LRT subsidy but hiking travel budget of public officials;
  • Fare hike is a move towards privatization

The group said commuters can express their opposition in various forms  including:

  • Making selfies or group pics holding mini posters and posting it on their social media accounts accompanied by #MRTprotest hashtag;
  • Joining online petitions addressed to the DOTC, Malacanang and Congress;
  • Seeking remedy from the courts; and
  • Joining scheduled mass actions

“The fare hike is the first oppressive policy of the year, the first assault by government on workers’ living condition.  Workers were first to pay their taxes but they were also the first to carry the burden of budget cuts and other unjust policies by government,” said PM spokesman Wilson Fortaleza.

He added: “Sa daang matuwid, manggagawa ang tinitipid.”

On his part PALEA President Gerry Rivera, lamented that while fares in other modes of transportation, including airlines, are dropping significantly because of the sharp drop in oil prices, but fares in the MRT and LRT are rising by as much as 87%.

SENTRO Secretary General and Nagkaisa! convenor Josua Mata said, “The true logic of removing the MRT subsidy is the government shifting to the role of shameless facilitator to the transfer of public money to private hands. In this particular case, the commuters subsidizing the guaranteed returns of private investors.”

The Nagkaisa in a series of dialogues with the President has called for a cost-effective and efficient mass transport system since the heavy traffic has been eating up a lot of productive hours of workers.

“The PNoy administration has not only failed to address the traffic mess, it is shamelessly adding a three-fold burden to workers who will have to shell out more for their own train fare and that of their children who go to school,” said Julius Cainglet of the Federation of Free Workers (FFW).

Peoples Action against the World Bank – Philippines

Manila –  This WB safeguard review started almost 3 years ago, but communities and organizations in the Philippines barely understand its process and contents. And to our knowledge, this is the first actual official interaction with Philippine organizations.  Yet, there has been too little time and lackluster effort to enable meaningful engagements.  Meanwhile, Southern and Northern organizations expressed their struggles and frustrations with the dismal handling of the Bank of the safeguards review over the past 2 years. The WB meetings last Oct. 8-11, 2014 in Washington DC was a clear reflection of peoples’ deep resentment over the poor consultation and bad safeguards draft. And here is the Bank doing a repeat of the same failures in running effective consultations: you give us too short notice to prepare and incomplete documents to consult. No draft business procedures, no implementation plan, no translations.

The affected communities and their support groups demand that the WB safeguard policies must be strengthened to ensure real protections for people and the planet. The draft does not promise to deliver that.

We are concerned that right now, Filipinos are not overcoming poverty, inequality and hunger are increasing, our natural resources are threatened by industrialization and extractive industries while labor rights are diluted or informalized. Contrary to the Bank’s rosy narratives of Philippine growth linked with its financing, this growth is widening inequality. Bank financing has not helped in preventing the intensified privatization of commons and has contributed to the systematic dismantling of essential public services. It has been muted in dealing with the discrimination against marginalized groups such as PWDs, IPs, children, and sexual minorities who are the most vulnerable sectors. They have been threatened by projects that were partly-funded by the World Bank Group. Remember the Manila Sewerage Project? Remember Chico dam in Cordillera? Remember IFC’s support to a mining project in the ancestral domain of the Mamanwas in CARAGA? In many instances, safeguards were useful in ensuring some basic minimum levels of protection were available.  But the Bank is moving to moving to eviscerate these basic human rights protections. You’re dumping people with more debts but you’re removing your environmental and human rights accountability.

We have watched with rising concern that your new “safeguard” proposals betray these expectations and represent the opposite.  In this process, we believe that the World Bank is stepping back on its promise to reduce poverty.

Instead of ensuring protection of vulnerable communities and the project affected people, your draft proposes dismantling of even existing protections that have been built over decades of hard work, hard won protections that people have fought and died for here in the Philippines, including social justice laws for indigenous peoples, environment, land reform and people’s participation in governance.

We cannot remain mute spectators of this regressive journey and must convey to you the rising frustration and anger amongst the many communities that are facing these impacts from Bank-supported projects, and also within many people’s movements and supporting civil society groups, networks and alliances from all over the Philippines.

Our colleagues have watched with growing dismay – the increasingly insensitive responses to the passionate appeals by cornered and distressed communities affected by bank supported projects.  I personally appealed that this consultation be re-scheduled to give time for communities and organizations to understand better the process and substance of the safeguards, but my appeal was rejected.

We are also alarmed by the rising talk of the Bank venturing into riskier investments, coming from as high positions as the WB President! Hundreds of indigenous peoples and forest dwellers organizations are terribly concerned with the proposed ‘opt out’ clause, and the dilution of protection hitherto given to biodiversity rich and protected areas.  You also propose to venture into uncharted territory of biodiversity offsets!  These are gambles more suited to a venture capital fund, not fit for a “Development Bank”, and the Filipinos cannot allow this to happen.

We, the dozens of people’s movements and organizations present here from all over the Philippines, and the many thousands we represent back from our communities, are rejecting this current draft of safeguards.  The protections you now seek to dismantle, the safeguards that we fought for over decades – do not belong to you, they are not yours to throw away, they belong to the world and its vulnerable people.

We are also aware of a handful of saner voices from within the bank, and urge them to fight inside the system, for protecting the very rights they themselves enjoy – also for the people and communities around the world facing potential threats from this proposed dilution of protections.  We strongly believe this protest action that we are compelled to take, will strengthen those voices and create a better environment for creating a really progressive safeguards policy.  This will be in the interest of the bank itself, as well as for the entire Philippines, and the rest of the world.

That is why we are forced to take this action now and join our partners in the protest outside.  Today we are going out of this consultation, to defend the safeguards and to stand with the World and against the Bank that is trying to destroy it!  We sincerely hope that this will help a better tomorrow, within & outside.

===================

Signatories:

AKBAYAN

Aniban ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (AMA)

Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL)

Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM)

Bank Information Center (BIC)

DANGAL

Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC)

NAGKAISA

NGO Forum on the ADB

Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ)

SANLAKAS

 

Labor group wants Petilla’s head for deceiving the Filipino people bigtime over so-called power crisis

A COALITION of 49 labor groups and workers’ organizations called Nagkaisa is demanding President Aquino to immediately fire Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla for deceiving the Filipino people with his manufactured power shortage scenario hitting the entire island of Luzon early 2015.

Officials of the Department of Energy admitted during a congressional hearing that the projected deficit in supply for the coming summer of 2015 is only about 21 to 31 MW, a far cry from the 1,200 MW shortfall trumpeted by Petilla.

“It is now very clear to us that Secretary Petilla took the country for a ride. He bluffed the president, the cabinet, the senators and the congressmen, the business sectors, the labor and consumer groups with his tall tales of thin power reserves to justify emergency powers that entails possible purchase of multi-billion peso generator sets. Mr. Petilla deliberately exposed the country to unnecessary jeopardy that has been discouraging job-creating investments away since he came out with his bogus story in July,” Josua Mata of Sentro-Nagkaisa, one of Nagkaisa convenors said reading Nagkaisa statement.

“This is a grave crime to the Filipino people. The only way for Secretary Petilla to redeem himself, after having been rebuffed by congressmen for his exaggerated numbers on the alleged looming power crisis, is to apologize to the people and submit an irrevocable resignation. If he doesn’t have the delicadeza to do so, we are demanding his head from the president. Either way, the Filipino people does not deserve a reprehensible nincompoop in government,” he added.

“Instead of asking congress to hastily grant him emergency powers, President Aquino should first kick his energy man out for his failure to lead a critical department of the executive,” Wilson Fortaleza, spokesperson of Partido Manggagawa-Nagkaisa.

Fortaleza said Petilla’s main blunder is the absence of policy intervention and the heap of unsound options in addressing the looming power crisis.

Petilla has proposed costly lease agreements from independent power producers to fill up the capacity gap in two years. Another option was to top existing capacities from industries’ embedded generator sets under the Interruptible Load Program (ILP).

“Petilla must go not because power emergency is none existent but also because policy intervention is absent. The president must fire him for deceiving the entire nation including himself as the chief executive and his fellow members of the cabinet,” added Fortaleza.

Another convenor, Louie Corral, executive director of Trade Union Congress of the Philippines-Nagakisa, explained that had the government acted as early as 2011, we could have started building new capacities by building new power plants; forced private power to rationalize their scheduled maintenance shutdowns; optimize the use of every plant especially hydro; and exercised strong regulatory powers to prevent market fraud.

Yet these options, Fortaleza said, can still be utilized right now as these powers are present under DOE’s mandate, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), the Office of the President, and Congress under the Joint Congresional Power Commission (JCPC).

“The only time we will support emergency powers is when the government finally decides to take over the whole industry with the utmost objectives of bringing down the price and securing a sustainable power supply not only for present needs but also for the next generations to come,” concluded Corral.

The Nagkaisa is a coalition of labor unions and workers’ organizations who band together three years ago to advance security of tenure, reduce the price of electricity, empower public sector workers and improve workers living wage. The members of the coalition are the Alliance of Free Workers (AFW) All Filipino Workers Confederation (AFWC), Automobile Industry Workers Alliance (AIWA), Alab Katipunan, Association of Genuine Labor Organizations (AGLO), Associated Labor Unions (ALU), Associated Labor Unions- Association of Professional Supervisory Officers Technical Employees Union (ALU-APSOTEU), ALU-Metal, Associated Labor Unions-Philippine Seafarers’Union (ALU-PSU), ALU-Textile, ALU-Transport, Associated Labor Unions-Visayas Mindanao Confederation of Trade Unions (ALU-VIMCOMTU), Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL), Association of Trade Unions (ATU), Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), Confederation of Independent Unions (CIU), Confederation of Labor and Allied Social Services (CLASS), Construction Workers Solidarity (CWS), Federation of Coca-Cola Unions (FCCU), Federation of Free Workers (FFW), Kapisanan ng Maralitang Obrero (KAMAO), Katipunan, Pambansang Kilusan sa Paggawa (KILUSAN), Kapisanan ng mga Kawani sa Koreo sa Pilipinas (KKKP), Labor education and Research Network (LEARN), League of Independent Bank Organizations (LIBO), Manggagawa para sa Kalayaan ng Bayan (MAKABAYAN), MARINO, National Association of Broadcast Unions (NABU), National Federation of Labor Unions (NAFLU), National Mines and Allied Workers Union (NAMAWU), National Association of Trade Unions (NATU), National Confederation of Labor (NCL), National Confederation of Transport Union (NCTU), National Union of Portworkers in the Philippines (NUPP), National Union of Workers in Hotel, Restaurant and Allied Industries (NUWHRAIN), Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA), Pepsi Cola Employees Union of the Philippines (PEUP), Philippine Government Employees Association (PGEA), Pinag-isang Tinig at Lakas ng Anakpawis (PIGLAS), Philippine Integrated Industries Labor Union (PILLU), Philippine Independent Public Sector Employees Association (PIPSEA), Partido Manggagawa (PM), Philippine Metalworkers Alliance (PMA), Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK), Philippine Transport and General Workers Organization (PTGWO), SALIGAN, Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), Workers Solidarity Network (WSN).