Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Cebu call center workers troop to DOLE in protest of conditions at work

Press Release
January 19, 2010

In probably the first time for the call center industry, a group of employees launched a mass action in protest at violations of their company ranging from delayed salaries to illegal suspension of workers. “The call center business is called a sunshine industry but why are we working in conditions resembling the Dark Ages,” asserted Junnie Montag, an employee at BTS Staff for Less Philippines.

The BTS workers held a press conference today at the office of the Partido ng Manggagawa in Mandaue City. After the press conference, the call center employees proceeded to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) office in Cebu City to file a complaint.

Montag said that “We have brought our plight to the attention of the public and the DOLE after a series of complaints and petitions to the management brought no results. Christmas has come and gone but we have yet to receive our December salaries and 13th month pay.”

The call center workers are alleging that aside from delayed wages, BTS has not been remitting deductions for SSS, Philhealth and Pag-ibig, and has not forwarded their tax refunds for two years running.

Last week the aggrieved employees found out that BTS is not registered with the DOLE and neither is the apprenticeship program enlisted with both the DOLE and TESDA as required by law. “BTS is guilty of theft of our wages and benefits,” insisted Montag.

Finally the workers are complaining of the company practice of suspending for 10 days, without due process, employees who have not met the target quota of calls. “We explain to management the reason for not reaching the quota but our arguments fall on deaf ears. The problem lies not in the performance of the employees but in system trouble and the lackluster market,” argued Montag.

BTS is a three-year old company located at Datag, Barangay Maribago, Lapu-Lapu City and handles accounts for insurance policies from abroad and also local companies like Smart. There are around 200 employees but only 60 are regular and the rest are apprentices.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Solidarity message to the RSP Conference

The Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) salutes the Revolutionary Socialist Party of Australia in its Marxist Education Conference for 2010. A conference to assess, enrich and deploy Marxist ideas to the situation of the world in the 21st century is utterly relevant at the beginning of this new decade.

It is worthwhile remembering now the words of Ka Popoy Lagman, whose brainchild is the establishment of PM as an independent working class party in the Philippines, back in the early days of year 2000. He wrote: “The first decade of the new millennium will be the eve of the socialist revolution in the era of Globalization.”

Looking back over the course of the last decade, it is striking how truly prescient Ka Popoy’s words were. They were borne out in the upsurge of anti-globalization struggles around the world that among others stymied the advance of the corporate project for the WTO, and in the outbreak of the Bolivarian revolution and its extension all across Latin America.

Now as we step into the second decade of the new millennium, the call for a new international amidst the greatest capitalist crisis in a century and the threat of global climate change frames the challenges for the working class and socialist parties and movements of the world.

The need for global solidarity among the working class and socialist groups in different countries rings ever truer now. More than ever it is indispensable to present an alternative to the imperialist and corporate globalization and a solution to the problem of economic recession and climate change.

Despite the vicissitudes of the struggle that confront the various groups—for we also faced similar organizational issues that in Australia led to the founding of the RSP—the task of consolidation is necessary in order to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the developing situation. A Marxist education conference then should keep working class and socialist activists’ feet on the ground as we reach for higher stages in the maturing class struggles of the 21st century.

Partido ng Manggagawa National Executive Committee

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Justice for the Victims of the Maguindanao Massacre, Break the Warlord Clans, Dismantle the Elite System

The Partido ng Manggagawa condemns in the strongest terms the massacre of more than 50 people in Maguindanao, including 18 media workers and two government employees, by the private army of a local warlord. We condole too with the families of the victims who apparently are the collateral damage in a deadly game of political rivalry between two prominent political clans.

The date of November 23 will now live in infamy as arguably the single bloodiest day in history for media workers. The brazenness of the atrocity absolutely highlights the rule of impunity by warlord political clans in the rural hinterlands.

These modern-day political lords govern over these poor provinces and towns like the fiefdoms of old times. Yet these warlords survive only with the tolerance, nay connivance of the national government in Manila. The corrupt regime in Malacanang and the warlord clans feed off each other in a symbiotic relationship to preserve a rotten social system that oppresses the people, especially the poor.

The political debt of the administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to the Ampatuan clan, the principal suspect in the massacre, is common knowledge. In the fraudulent elections of 2004, the Ampatuans delivered an incredible plurality of ballots for Arroyo in Maguindanao to the point where in one town her electoral rivals received no votes. What is less acknowledged is the role played by the armed forces in propping up the warlord rule of the Ampatuans in the guise of battling the Muslim insurgents in Mindanao. The cache of high-powered arms uncovered in the property of the Ampatuans reveal the cozy association between the military and the warlords which can only happen with the blessing of Malacanang.

Justice for the victims of the Maguindanao massacre begins but does not end with bringing the full force of the law on the mastermind (who happens to be the heir apparent to the Ampatuan patriarch), dismantling the private army of the warlord clan and breaking their political stranglehold on the province and towns. But smashing the Ampatuan clan only for it to be replaced by their political rivals would be Pyrrhic victory for the victims of the Maguindanao massacre.

Genuine justice for the victims of the Maguindanao massacre goes beyond destroying the warlord clans and political dynasties such as the Ampatuans and Arroyos. The social and economic basis for the existence of the warlord clans and political dynasties must also be broken up. If not, tearing down one dynasty only to pave the way for a new clan, would be a labor of Sisyphus. The sacrifice of the Maguindanao massacre victims would not have been for nothing if it leads to a fundamental rethinking and radical restructuring of Philippine politics and society.

A real not just formal democracy is the antidote to the virus of warlord domination and elite rule in Philippine politics. A real democracy rests on extending the concept and practice from politics and elections to economics and society.

Elections—however clean, honest and automated it may be—in present society are mere exercises for the people to choose their oppressors. No worker can ever be president in electoral campaigns costing billions to wage. Still real democracy means not just a level playing field between the rich and poor in elections—which is an illusion under a society split between an elite minority and an impoverished mass.

Democracy must be revolutionized by the direct participation of people in the administration of things. Direct not representative democracy is the real exercise of the rule of the people.