Monday, April 14, 2014

Life under PNoy is daily sacrifice for workers – labor group

14 April 2014

The Filipino masses got a brief respite in yesterday’s convincing victory of their Pambansang Kamao over Timothy Bradley, yet such a moment of glory cannot gloss over the fact that life remains a difficult fight for survival under the present administration. 
In their traditional rendition of “Kalbaryo ng Manggagawa at Maralita” held this morning at Mendiola, members of the labor group, Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), called the attention of the Aquino administration on several issues where ordinary workers were practically and perpetually “crucified”. 
These issues include the problems of unemployment, contractualization, and the deepening inequality between the rich and the poor.
“In truth the ‘tuwid na daan’ was a tricky road to trek.  It remains a “kalbaryo” -- a daily sacrifice for ordinary workers who are continuously denied the rights and opportunity to live a decent life,” said PM Secretary General Judy Ann Miranda. 
Miranda said life under the Aquino administration remains a difficult fight for survival to both men and women who carry the burden of jobs crisis characterized by rising unemployment, low-wage and contractual work arrangements. 
According to the Social Weather Station (SWS) 27 out of 100 adult Filipinos were considered unemployed in December 2013.  The same survey also showed that unemployment was highest among women (35.9%) and among youth (52.3%) under the age group 18-24.
And for those who are employed, added Miranda, the working conditions remain very harsh with millions of workers living a slave-like subsistence under contractual work arrangements while their bosses join the club of the world’s top billionaires. 
According to PM’s own study, the workers real wage increased by mere 14% between 2006 and 2013 while the net worth of the country’s 10 richest capitalists increased by 1,005%. 
The group likewise lambasted the government for failing to address the problems of high power rates, the high cost of basic goods and services, as well as the deteriorating state of our mass transport system particularly the MRT and LRT.
The group, together with the labor coalition Nagkaisa!, are now preparing their forces for a major nationwide action on Labor Day.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

RH Law is a partial win for Filipino women

Press Statement
April 9, 2014

Despite declaring eight (8) provisions illegal, the Supreme Court’s upholding of the RH Law as constitutional is hard won victory for the Filipino people, especially for poor women.  The salient provisions that will provide the marginalized free reproductive health services and supplies, adolescents age and development appropriate reproductive health education in schools, and public awareness and nationwide campaign for reproductive health and rights have remained intact.  So goes with the role of local government units in the RH Law’s implementation.

The Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), however, cannot disregard the importance of the provisions declared unconstitutional by the high court.  The ruling has direct impact to the availment of services of minors and women of reproductive health services and supplies. Minor parents or minors who have suffered a miscarriage and married women not in emergency situations are not allowed to access RH services and supplies without consent of parents and spouses, respectively.  These negate women’s right to make decisions for their selves.

The SC has also considered illegal the punishment of a health care provider who fails or refuses to disseminate information regarding RH services, refer a patient not in an emergency or life-threatening case to another health care service provider, and public officer who refuses to support reproductive health programs or do any act that hinders the full implementation of a reproductive health program regardless of his or her religious beliefs.  The ruling undermines the rights of women to avail of RH information and services from those who are supposed to be implementing the law.

The provisions that were sacrificed are equally important.  PM believes the Supreme Court gave in to the pressure of the Catholic Church and other religious groups and made compromises at the expense of women’s rights and health.  The fight for reproductive health is not yet over.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Militant labor group urges Supreme Court to uphold RH Law

28 March 2014

Women workers from Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) joined women from different sectors - government officials, civil society partners, young people, and celebrity supporters - in the march to urge the Supreme Court Justices to uphold the Reproductive Health Law.

The march will start at Anda Circle at 2pm, pass by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ office in Intramuros, and proceed to the Supreme Court in Padre Faura, and hold a program at Plaza Salamanca, Taft Avenue. Attendees will march in purple shirts and accessories.

“More pregnant women are dying with the delay in the implementation of the RH Law.  Teen pregnancies are increasing and girls getting pregnant are younger and younger with the delay in the implementation of the RH Law.  HIV/AIDS rates are likewise increasing, young men and women are denied of necessary services with the delay in the implementation of the RH Law,” claimed PM Secretary General Judy Ann Miranda.

PM also noted that a Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics (BLES) study (Labstat Vol. 17, No. 8, May 2013) showed that most of the women inactive in the labor force are 20-39 year-olds, poor, and either elementary or high school levels/graduates.  They are inactive because besides spending most of their time in childrearing and domestic work, they are also those women with the most number of children born in fairly close succession.
Hence, these women are poor because right from the beginning, they have been denied by the government, with the Catholic Church’s influence, their right to reproductive health. 
“Too many lives and futures have been sacrificed.  We urge the Supreme Court to end the silent carnage and uphold the RH Law,” Miranda ended.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Workers want full prohibition not a compromise deal on power rate hike

20 March 2014
 Organized labor under Nagkaisa is insisting for no less than the full prohibition of the December 2013 and January 2014 rate hike, rejecting in effect the Philippine Electricity Market Corporation’s (PEMC) recomputed rate that is 80 percent lower than the approved market rate in December and January.
 PEMC, which operates the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM), said on Tuesday that it had finished its recalculation of market prices in compliance with the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) order of March 3.  For the December 2013 billing, it set the new spot market rates at P6.007 (76.35 percent lower) than the P25.404 per kWh, and P6.246 (77.98 percent lower) than the original P28.367 per kWh for the billing month of January 2014. 
 “The numbers are out and PEMC’s recomputed rates bared all the elements of market failure.  We insist that any residual cost coming from this failure must be deemed unjust and therefore should not be passed on to consumers,” said Wilson Fortaleza of Nagkaisa power team. 
 Fortaleza, who is also the spokesperson of Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), argued further that in this particular case, the market failure was also a result of regulatory failure the more it should not be borne by the consumers.
 He pointed specifically to the failures of the ERC and PEMC to regulate the market despite the expected tightness in supply due to the Malampaya shutdown and also being aware of official reports citing repeated occurrence of market abuse since WESM started operating in Luzon in 2006; and the failure on the part of the Department of Energy (DoE) to ensure reliable supply of power and impose sanctions on erring power plants. 
 Tomorrow, Nagkaisa and the Power to the People (P2P) network will stage a picket rally at the PEMC to call for the suspension of WESM operations, saying it is not the consumers but the rich owners of generation and distribution companies who profitably gain from this fraudulent trading scheme.
There are also reports that the PEMC Board, who are not independent but made up of the players themselves, receives fat compensations and other perks, including brand new service vehicles.

“We challenge the government to tell the people the truth that WESM won’t work in a very small and highly concentrated market ruled by certified predators in the power industry,” concluded Fortaleza.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Labor groups slams TRO on union elections in Toledo mine

Photo from Cebu Daily News
Press Release
March 13, 2014
Association of Genuine Labor Organizations (AGLO)
Partido ng Manggagawa (PM)

The Association of Genuine Labor Organizations (AGLO) and Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) today slammed the temporary restraining order (TRO) slapped on the conduct of a union certification election at Galeo Equipment and Mining Company, a contractor at the Carmen Copper mine in Toledo City. At the height of the casting of votes by workers whether to join a union or not, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) halted the elections pursuant to a TRO imposed by the Court of Appeals.

Edmund Canete, the president of Galeo Workers Union (GWU-AGLO) asserted that “The TRO was a last minute maneuver by union-busting and union-evading capitalists to subvert our freedom to choose a union and improve our working conditions.”

A total of 285 Galeo workers had already voted by the time balloting was stopped around 5:35 pm yesterday. Galeo is a contractor within the huge Carmen Copper site that hauls mine waste from the open pit mining site. Another 275 Galeo workers were unable to cast ballots and were disenfranchised due to the TRO.

The election dispute arose from an attempt by the Asiapro manpower cooperative to prevent the unionization efforts at Galeo. Asiapro is claiming that the Galeo workers are their members and thus exempt from unionization. The DOLE however had ruled that there union elections can continue despite Asiapro’s opposition.

“Asiapro is the biggest supplier of contractual employees to many companies thus evading employer obligations to workers. In this case, Asiapro is serving as an instrument to sidestep workers’ right to self-organization and collective bargaining,” Canete claimed.


Butch Pena, the national vice president AGLO condemned the TRO. “This TRO is a horrifying act by the second highest court of the land in curtailing workers constitutional right and freedom of association by declaring that Asiapro is an intervenor to the certification election case at Galeo.”

Renato Magtubo, PM national chairperson, argued that “Galeo and Asiapro’s connivance in evading unionism and use of legal maneuvers is not an unusual thing. This happens all the time. No wonder there are so few unions organized. Workers are not averse to unionism but capitalists do everything in their power to sabotage the freedom to organize.”

“We call on organized labor to unite in a campaign to defend the right to organize and job security. Asiapro must be exposed as a capitalist tool to defraud workers of their rights and benefits. Ang laban ng Galeo union ay laban ng lahat,” Magtubo insisted.