Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Laid off electronics workers camp out at Cavite export zone

Press Release
May 19, 2010

The laid off workers of Dyna Image Corp. Phils., an electronics factory at the Cavite Economic Zone (CEZ) in Rosario, Cavite, with supporters from the Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) picketed the export zone early this morning then setup a campout before noon. More than a hundred women members of the Samahan ng Manggagawa sa Dyna Image Corp. Phils. together with another hundred PM members started the protest as early as 7:00 a.m. at the main gate of the CEZ. The campout, the first ever setup at the CEZ, is an escalation of the series of protests conducted by the Dyna Image workers.

“The heat and humidity of the campout is small sacrifice for we are fighting for our jobs and our families. The meetings at the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) have remained inconclusive since management refuses to consider workers demands for layoffs as a last option. We vow to continue the fight until our demands are met,” declared Virgielita Morite, president of the Dyna Image union.

The workers setup a makeshift tent outside the main gate of the CEZ after an impromptu intervention by Rosario Mayor Nonong Ricafrente proved futile. Mayor Ricafrente called the leaders of the Dyna Image union to his house upon learning of the picket. After he heard the workers’ grievances he called up the CEZ administrator to relay the workers demands to management.

“Mayor Ricafrente’s appeals to management however went unheeded as Dyna Image said that they can only offer 17 days per year of service as separation pay. They even blackmailed not just the workers but also Mayor Ricafrente by saying that Dyna Image will close shop if they accede to the workers demands,” explained Morite.

Dennis Sequena, a leader of PM in Cavite, explained that “We thank Mayor Ricafrente for his effort to mediate. The workers demand is reasonable; it is management that is being hardheaded.”

He also called on the police to respect the workers right to peaceful assembly and redress of grievance. Police mobile units have been checking on the campout although no attempt has been made to dismantle it. Another mediation meeting at the NCMB is scheduled on Friday.

The workers are demanding that management implement a last in, first out policy as regards the retrenchment. They also propose that working hours be reduced from the present 12-hour shift so that the 127 laid off workers can share the workload with the 450 workers inside the factory.

“The fact that workers are on overtime and production is in full blast belies management’s arguments that it is losing and so must dismiss workers,” Sequena insisted.

Last May 13, the workers picketed the factory premises inside the CEZ before marching out for a bigger protest at the main gate of the export zone with supporters from PM. Before that, the Dyna Image workers practically took over the NCMB extension office in Imus last April 27 in protest at their dismissal.

Also on April 26, the Dyna Image workers walked out of their factory after they were forced to receive separation pay from the company. Dyna Image is a Taiwanese-owned factory that produces parts for cellhone cameras. ###

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Cavite electronics workers bring protest to factory premises and export zone

Press Release
May 13, 2010

The laid off workers of Dyna Image Corp. Phils., an electronics factory at the Cavite Economic Zone (CEZ) in Rosario, Cavite, picketed the company premises and the export zone this morning. The picket today is an escalation of the series of protests conducted by the Dyna Image workers.

Some 60 women members of the Samahan ng Manggagawa sa Dyna Image Corp. Phils. held a picket protest as early as 6:00 a.m. at the company gates inside the export zone compound. Not long after, a representative of the administration of CEZ asked the workers to a dialogue. Around 10:00 a.m. the dialogue at the CEZ administration office started with 10 Dyna Image union officers and a mediator from the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) but no representative from management came.

“We are more than willing to sit down with management in order to negotiate our demand that we return to work. The meetings at the NCMB have remained inconclusive since management refuses to consider workers demands for layoffs as a last option. Today’s picket is only the start of bigger protests to come,” declared Virgielita Morite, president of the Dyna Image union.
At 9:00 a.m. the Dyna Image workers marched from the factory to the main gate of the CEZ where they met some 200 members of the Partido ng Manggagawa (PM). The PM members, together with other Dyna Image workers who were blocked at the main gate, were holding a solidarity program since 7:00 a.m.

The workers bore placards that said “Manggagawa ng Dyna Image, Ibalik sa trabaho,” “Last not first option ang tanggalan,”Noynoy: Simulan ang pagbabago, Tigilan ang tanggalan,” and “Ang laban sa tanggalan ay laban na tapat. Ang laban sa tanggalan ay laban ng lahat.”

Dennis Sequena, a leader of PM in Cavite, explained that “We call on reelected Mayor Nonong Ricafrente to mediate and appeal to management to accept the Dyna Image workers back to work. The workers demand is reasonable; it is management that is being hardheaded.”

The workers are demanding that management implement a last in, first out policy as regards the retrenchment. They also propose that working hours be reduced from the present 12-hour shift so that the 127 laid off workers can share the workload with the 450 workers inside the factory. “The fact that workers are on overtime and production is in full blast belies management’s arguments that it is losing and so must dismiss workers,” Morite insisted.

Last May 7, 109 members of the Dyna Image union unanimously voted for strike. Before that, on April 27 the Dyna Image workers practically took over the NCMB extension office in Imus in protest at their dismissal. The Dyna Image workers walked out of their factory on April 26 when they were forced to receive separation pay from the company. Dyna Image is a Taiwanese-owned factory that produces parts for cellhone cameras.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Robin Padilla suportado ng kababaihang manggagawa sa kaso sa condom ad

Press Release
May 8, 2010

Nagpahayag ng suporta ang grupong party-list na Partido ng Manggagawa kay Robin Padilla sa kinakaharap nitong kaso sa pag-endurso ng condom sa advertisement. “Si Robin Padilla ay isang good boy sa kanyang pag-endurso ng paggamit ng condom na kadalasang iniiwasan ng mga machong Pilipino. Ang paggamit ng condom ay isang usaping reproductive health hindi isang isyung moral,” paninindigan ni Judy Ann Miranda, secretary-general ng Partido ng Manggagawa.

Nanawagan din si Miranda kay Jo Ambong, kandidatong pagkasenador ng Ang Kapatiran Party na nagsampa ng kaso, na humarap na lang sa isang debate. “Hinahamon namin si Ambong at iba pang kandidato, gaya ni Mike Velarde na isang party-list nominee, na ipagtanggol ang kanilang posisyon laban sa condom at kontra sa Reproductive Health bill sa isang public forum,” aniya.

Dati nang sinuportahan ng Partido ng Manggagawa ang Department of Health sa kontrobersyal nitong programa ng pamamahagi ng condom. Ang Partido ng Manggagawa din ang grupong nagprotesta sa opisina ng Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines noong Araw ng Kababaihan. Tumatakbo ang Partido ng Manggagawa sa halalan sa party-list sa platapormang “Apat na Dapat” na ang ibig sabihin ay regular na trabaho, sapat na sweldo, murang pabahay at reproductive health.

“Nananawagan ang kababaihang manggagawa kay Robin na huwag umatras sa pag-endurso sa paggamit ng condom. Alam naming hindi santo si Robin pero magandang role model siya para sa mga isyu gaya ng pagkakaisa ng mga Muslim at Kristyano,” paliwanag ni Miranda.

Nanindigan naman ang Partido ng Manggagawa na trabaho ng gobyerno ang promosyon ng condom. “Sa halip na gawing negosyo ng pribadong sektor, pangunahing responsibilidad ng gobyerno ang paglalaan ng reproductive health services. Hinihiling namin sa uupong bagong gobyernong na gawing urgent and priority legislation ang panukalang RH bill. Karapatan ng kababaihan ang mapasya sa kanilang mga katawan at tungkulin ng estado na ipagtanggol ang kalayaan ng mga babae na pumili sang-ayon sa kanilang kagustuhan,” giit ni Miranda.

Women workers express support for Robin Padilla in condom ad case

Press Release
May 8, 2010

The labor party-list Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) expressed support for Robin Padilla in a case filed against him by a senatorial candidate for promoting the use of condoms through advertisements. “Robin Padilla is a good boy for endorsing the use of condoms which is traditionally shunned in the macho culture of Filipino males. Condoms are a reproductive health concern not a moral issue,” declared Judy Ann Miranda, PM secretary-general.

Padilla was the subject of a case filed yesterday by a senatorial candidate of the Ang Kapatiran Party (AKP) that sought to stop the ads of Trust Condoms. AKP candidate Jo Ambong argued that the ads are an affront to “public decency and morality.”

Miranda called on Ambong to face a debate on condom promotion and reproductive health instead of filing a case. “We challenge Ambong and other candidates such as Mike Velarde, nominee of Buhay party-list, who stand against the Reproductive Health (RH) bill to a public forum to discuss the merits of the issue,” she added.

PM is the group that backed the Department of Health in its controversial condom distribution campaign and trooped to the office of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines last March 8 as part of the group’s campaign for the RH bill. The Calabarzon chapter of PM also held a motorcade last March 14 that offered condoms for free. PM is also running for the party-list elections on an “Apat na Dapat” platform of regular jobs, living wage, affordable housing and reproductive health.

Miranda appealed to Padilla to stand firm in the face of the case. “Women workers ask Robin not to retreat in his endorsement of condom use. While we know Robin is not a saint, he is a positive role model for Muslim-Christian dialogue through his various projects and advocacies,” she said.

The group however called on the government to assume the responsibility for massively distributing and promoting condoms. “It is should not be principally the business of the private sector but the task of the State to provide access to reproductive health services. We demand that the new government that will assume power certify as urgent and priority legislation the proposed RH bill. It is the right of women to control their bodies and it is the responsibility of the State to defend the freedom of women to choose,” Miranda explained.

She cited a research (“The Incidence of Induced Abortion in the Philippines: Current Level and Recent Trends” by Fatima Juarez, Josefina Cabigon, Susheeia Singh and Rubina Hussain, published by Guttmacher Institute, New York, 2005) that concluded “one of every two married women did not want a child soon or wanted no more children, but were not using a contraceptive method.” Miranda insisted that “Filipinos want to reduce the number of children but do not have the means to do so. In poor communities, one condom amounts to a pack of noodles. To millions of half-starved families, basic survival definitely comes first over safe sex. Thus the RH bill provides that government must step in by providing access to reproductive health services.”

Friday, May 7, 2010

Protests against high electricity rates continue at grassroots

Press Release
May 7, 2010

Despite the announced reduction in Meralco rates for the month of May, protests against high electricity rates continue. The protests went to the grassroots today as consumers in Paranaque picketed a nearby Meralco branch.

A hundred residents from different Paranaque communities converged at the Tambo branch of Meralco for the protest. The consumers are calling for a bigger reduction in the household electricity rates and a refund of the P15 billion overcharging since 2003 as revealed by a COA audit. Neighborhood associations of Tucuma, Sta. Cecilia, Fatima, Purok 7 in Multinational Village, Wakas and Damayan participated in the picket.

“The fight for lower electricity bills continues. We want a larger decrease in Meralco’s charge. We also want a refund of the overbilling by Meralco,” declared Michelle Licudine, a leader of party-list group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) in Paranaque.

Yesterday PM members joined the Freedom from Debt Coalition in a picket at the Napocor main office and the Meralco branch in Kamuning, Quezon City. PM is calling on consumers to sustain the protest in the streets and in the internet against the high electricity rates despite the announced cuts by Meralco.

“Militant street protests complement the angry blogs, tweets and postings in the internet. Activists in the streets and in cyberspace unite!,” Licudine exclaimed.

She argued that “Public pressure should be put against Meralco and other utilities in the face of the failed regulatory functions by the government and the power firms’ greed for more profit. When regulation fails to protect consumers from corporate greed and abuse, street protests is a must option for the burdened consumers.”

The group assailed the failed promise of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) for lower power rates. “Instead we are in the midst of a power crisis that even threatens to lead to a failure of elections. While people suffer daily brownouts, consumers have to face huge electricity bills. This is a double whammy that we do not to suffer,” Licudine insisted.

PM is calling for a reversal of the privatization of the power industry that was ushered in by the EPIRA. Licudine argued that “From its birth, EPIRA was burdened with an original sin and its evils are only now being revealed for all to see,” Licudine reminded. Former PM party-list representative in Congress Renato Magtubo led the expose on the multi-million payola attending the passage of the EPIRA in year 2000.

Workers rally in support of PAL employees as labor dispute is heard by DOLE

Press Release
May 7, 2010

More than a hundred workers from different groups such as the labor party-list Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), the union of PLDT employees and the labor group Makabayan mobilized in support of the Philippine Airlines (PAL) workers fight against spinoff and contractualization. The solidarity rally was held as the Office of the Labor Secretary (Osec) called the PAL union and management to a mediation meeting this morning.

Renato Magtubo, PM chairperson, declared that “We call on the Office of the Labor Secretary make a decision on the PAL dispute that defends security of tenure, promotes regular jobs, respects labor rights and advances workers welfare as explicitly provided for in the Labor Code and the Philippine Constitution.”

The workers also expressed concern that the labor dispute might affect the conduct of the national elections if the conflict remains unresolved. The mediation meeting today called by the Osec is already the second attempt to seek a resolution to the dispute. The first mediation meeting last April 30 ended inconclusively. The OSec assumed jurisdiction (AJ) of the labor dispute based on an order dated April 23, 2010.

The protesters held placards that slammed the planned spinoff of PAL’s airport services, inflight catering and ticketing reservations that will lead to the mass layoff of some 3,000 workers. They slammed the spinoff as the “ugly face of contractualization in PAL.”

The solidarity mobilization came as a result of an appeal by the PAL Employees Association (PALEA) for support. Gerry Rivera, PALEA president, said that “We appeal to our brothers and sisters to set aside organizational, political and ideological divides for working class unity around an issue that concerns all workers. We further ask that solidarity actions be initiated as a continuation of protest actions that PALEA has started but is now enjoined from continuing because of the AJ order.”

“The fight of PAL employees against mass layoffs and labor contractualization is the fight of all Filipino workers. Labor unity and labor solidarity will be a key factor in the victory of the PAL employees’ struggle,” Magtubo.

Givera insisted that “PAL employees will be laid off only to be rehired for the same work in new companies and under new contracts. Regular workers will thus be replaced by contractual labor whose wages are cheaper, benefits are fewer and security of tenure is non-existent. Workers will be sacrificed to maintain the profits of Lucio Tan, already the second richest man in the country.”

“Contractualization is a scourge that has ravaged the working class and the labor movement. The livelihood and lives of workers are destroyed. Unions are busted. Organizing is made so difficult if not impossible. Labor federations and centers are severely weakened,” Magtubo explained. ###

Electronics workers in Cavite vote to go on strike

Press Release
May 7, 2010

Workers of Dyna Image Corp. Phils., an electronics export firm in the Cavite Economic Zone in Rosario, voted unanimously to go on strike. The 109 members of the Samahan ng Manggagawa sa Dyna Image Corp. Phils. all voted for a strike yesterday afternoon in a meeting in Rosario that was attended by a representative of the Department of Labor and Employment.

The strike vote came as a result of a deadlock in the preventive mediation conducted by the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) in Imus last Wednesday. The union is demanding that management allow more than a hundred workers that have not accepted the separation package to return to work. The workers are proposing that management implement a last in-first out policy as regards the retrenchment of 450 workers, about half of the total workforce.

Dyna Image however did not accede to the compromise proposal and so the union declared a deadlock in the mediation. The union has already filed a notice of strike for unfair labor practice at the NCMB extension office in Imus last April 27. More than a hundred Dyna Image workers practically took over the NCMB extension office in a protest that coincided with the first mediation meeting that day.

“Management is inconsistent in its position that old workers have to go since they need younger employees for new product lines. The remaining workers in the factory are not doing anything that we did not already do and already know how to do,” insisted Virgielita Morite, president of the Dyna Image union.

Dennis Sequena, a leader of the labor party-list Partido ng Manggagawa which is supporting the Dyna Image workers, argued that “The DOLE’s declared policy is to find ways other that retrenchment and for layoffs to be the last option. So why are they giving credence to Dyna Image’s contradictory reasoning?”

Both Morite and Sequena explained that work can be shared by the workers so that no one need to retrenched. “At the moment workers at Dyna Image are working 12 hours straight. This means that the more than a hundred laid off workers can be accommodated back to work by reducing the working day to just 10 hours or less,” Morite clarified.

The Dyna Image union will attend a mediation meeting scheduled for May 12. In the meantime groups supporting them such as PM are planning protests to highlight the plight of the displaced workers. Dyna Image is an electronics firm making parts for cellphone cameras for export and is owned by Taiwanese nationals.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Protests continue despite Meralco’s P1.26/kwh reduction in generation charge

PRESS RELEASE
06 May 2010

The labor partylist group, Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) and the Freedom from Debt Coalition proceeded with their planned mass action today against power rate hikes despite Meralco’s announcement that it is cutting its rate by P1.26/kwh beginning this month.

“Meralco’s announcement may have been prepared to diffuse the rapid buildup of protest against its unjust rates,” said PM spokesman Wilson Fortaleza, referring to the growing outbursts against power rate hikes that now even reaches the cyberspace prior to the announcement.

Fortaleza said that despite the announced rate cut, more mass protests should be launched against Meralco and other utilities in the face of the failed regulatory functions by the government and the power firms’ insatiable greed for profit.

“Meralco is a regulated utility. But when regulation fails to protect consumers from corporate greed and repeated abuse, street protests become the necessary option for the hapless consumers,” explained Fortaleza.

Meralco’s rate surged to the highest level this month due to tight supply and the hikes in the price of electricity traded at the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM). According to Meralco, its IPPs which provide more than half of Meralco’s requirements were forced to shutdown their operations last month due to routine maintenance at the Malampaya gas field, forcing them to source power at WESM but for more than what is required of them, which is limited to only 10%.

Under the Electric Power Reform Act or EPIRA, Meralco has the obligation to deliver power to its customers at the least cost manner.

“Yet, Meralco always has this predilection of passing the burden of its erroneous practices to its captive clients by way of over-charging and through other forms of corporate fraud,” protested Fortaleza, insisting that instead of a price hike, Meralco rather owe the consumers refundable amounts in over-charging as found in the 2009 COA Audit.

The COA audit revealed that Meralco has over billed its customers by at least P15-B from 2003 onwards.

Before proceeding to the Meralco’s Kamuning branch, PM members made a kick-off protest at the gates of the National Power Corporation (NPC) to highlight what the group claims is the symbol of failed electricity governance.

Some 80% of NPC assets have already been privatized, including many of its pivotal plants. But contrary to what the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) has envisioned in 2001, the privatization program led to more power rate hikes, and now the new episode of power crisis.

“Now who is afraid of people power? Power rate hikes, power crisis, and a failing electoral exercise could be a perfect combination for another one,” concludes Fortaleza.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Sa harap ng mga problema sa automated elections: PM nanawagan sa mga botante na magbantay, naninindigan para sa people power

Press Release
May 4, 2010

Bilang reaksyon sa pagbawi ng 7,000 palyadong memory cards at 3,000 PCOS machines sa NCR, nanawagan ang grupong party-list na Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) na magbantay ang mga botante sa harap ng posibleng failure of elections. “Ang pagbawi ng memory cards at PCOS machines ay pinakahuli lang sa serye ng mga kababalaghang maaring mauwi sa failure of elections,” pahayag ni Renato Magtubo, tagapangulo ng PM.

Sumang-ayon din ang PM sa kontrobersyal na panawagang maglunsad ng people power sakaling maganap ang failure of elections. Nagpahayag ang grupo ng kahandaang magmobilisa ng mga manggagawa at maralita para sa isang people power laban sa itatayong gobyernong junta na kahahantungan ng failure of elections.

“Ang failure of elections ay katumbas ng failure of the system. Sa ganitong sitwasyon, ang people power ay karapatan ng sambayanan para magbigay daan sa pagbabago sa halip na nakawin ng nakaupong rehimen ang kapangyarihan,” paninindigan ni Magtubo.

Aniya, “May sarili kaming ulat mula sa Romblon na pumalpak din ang testing ng PCOS machines. Dagdag pa ito sa media reports ng palyadong makina sa NCR, Mindoro at Batangas.”

Ibinunyag ni Magtubo na ikinakasa na nila ang mga lider at miyembro ng PM para maging pollwatchers sa polling centers ng matataong depressed communities kung saan mayroon silang chapters. “Ang Workers Ballot Brigades ay pupwesto sa mga presinto ng Metro Manila at paligid nitong Calabarzon at Bulacan, at ibang sentrong syudad gaya ng Metro Cebu, Metro Bacolod at Metro Davao.” ###

Amidst concerns of election failure: PM calls on voters to be vigilant, say people power a must option

Press Release
May 4, 2010
In reaction to the recall of some 7,000 faulty memory cards and another 3,000 PCOS machines in the NCR, the labor party-list Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) called on voters to be vigilant amidst concerns of an election failure. “The recall of memory cards and PCOS machines days before May 10 is just the latest in a series of twists that may lead to a failure of elections,” declared PM chair Renato Magtubo.

PM added its voice to the growing call for people power in the event of a failed election and in the context of a power vacuum. “A failed election would be tantamount to a failure of the whole system and under such a scenario, a people power is a must option to be able to reboot the system rather than let it hang in favor of the sitting elite faction of the ruling class,” Magtubo insisted.

He added that “We have first hand reports of PCOS machines failing tests in Romblon. This is in addition to media reports of such failures in the NCR, Mindoro and Batangas.”

Magtubo revealed that the PM is mobilizing its leaders and members to be pollwatchers in populous depressed communities in which the group has chapters. “These workers’ Ballot Brigades will be present in the precincts of Metro Manila and its vicinities Calabarzon and Bulacan, and in other cities such as Metro Cebu, Metro Bacolod and Metro Davao,” he clarified.

Magtubo said the organized and even the unorganized sections of the working class will take the streets for a gallant stand against a junta type hold over government which is the most likely outcome of failed elections.

“That is because failed institutions under the Arroyo regime cannot redeem the system from such a failure, thus, a people power is the only option that can unmake or dispose of the current rotten system, or create new institutions to save this dying nation,” concludes Magtubo.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Labor party-list study show cost of living in Calabarzon is P800 a day

Press Release
May 3, 2010


The labor party-list Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) released its own study of the cost of living for a family of six in Calabarzon as of April this year that reveal it has already reached P808 a day. "This survey shows that the gap between the P320 minimum wage in the most urbanized part of Calabarzon and the present cost of living is a yawning P488 or 153% of the ordinary wage. Even if both parents work—which is the buy one, take one policy of the government—then their combined income will not be enough to feed the entire family," stated Raquel Monzon, a trade union leader of PM in Rosario, Cavite.

The group’s computation is an underestimation since it did not provide for savings and social security which in the government’s basket of goods and services constitutes 10% of the cost of living. Furthermore, PM's study did not include items such as leisure and recreation, and the family budget for health excluded medical expenses. Monzon said that "If we include such items, and we must in a more comprehensive survey, then the cost of living may reach P900 per day or more."

In reaction to MalacaƱang’s order to all regional wage boards to deliberate on a wage hike, PM doubts that the Region IV-A wage board will grant a substantial salary increase. “Since the Calabarzon wage board was established in 1989, no basic wage increase ever granted was above P20, which today is not even enough to buy an additional kilo of the cheapest commercial rice. The wage boards must be abolished for being inutile. Its wage orders are always delayed, stingy and benefits merely a small section of workers because it is not across-the-board and riddled with exemptions, deferments and creditability clauses," declared Monzon.

The group is advocating for the establishment of a National Wage Commission. “The National Wage Commission is different in that its mandate is to fix wages based on the single criterion of cost of living. And despite the huge gap between the present minimum wage and the current cost of living, the National Wage Commission can equalize the two by a host of mechanisms among which are direct wage increases, tax exemptions, price discounts at social security subsidies for workers,” Monzon explained.

She added that “The formation of a National Wage Commission should be on the agenda of the next Congress and must be certified as urgent by the new President, if his administration will bring real change to workers lives.”

Monzon also argued that "Since we should not impose the burden of household chores and child rearing to the female parent, then the basket of goods should provide for a house-help. That is not anymore a luxury especially in the light of the insistence of the state that both parents must work instead of having just a single breadwinner."

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Labor party-list study show cost of living has reached P1,000/day

Press Release
May 2, 2010


The labor party-list Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) released its own study of the cost of living for a family of six in Metro Manila as of April this year that reveal it has already reached P1,000 a day. "This survey shows that the gap between the P382 minimum wage in the NCR and the present cost of living is a yawning P618 or 162% of the ordinary wage. Even if both parents work—which is the buy one, take one policy of the government—then their combined income will not be enough to feed the entire family," stated Renato Magtubo, PM chairperson.

The group’s actual computation only shows P984 but its study did not provide for savings and social security which in the government’s basket of goods and services constitutes 10% of the cost of living. Furthermore, PM's study did not include items such as leisure and recreation, and the family budget for health excluded medical expenses. Magtubo said that "If we include such items, and we must in a more accurate survey, then the cost of living will easily breach P1,000 per day."

He added that "The National Wages and Productivity Council's cost of living estimate of P917 have to be updated in the light of this study and in the face of continuing inflation." PM thus concludes that even if the P75 wage petition is granted by the NCR wage board, such will not be enough to bridge the huge gap between the minimum wage and the cost of living.

PM however doubts that the NCR wage board will grant the P75 wage petition. “Since the NCR wage board was established in 1989, no basic wage increase ever granted was above P30, whether the economy was in boom or bust. The wage boards must be abolished for being inutile. Its wage orders are always delayed, stingy and benefits merely a small section of workers because it is not across-the-board and riddled with exemptions, deferments and creditability clauses," declared Magtubo.

The group is advocating for the establishment of a National Wage Commission. “The National Wage Commission is different in that its mandate is to fix wages based on the single criterion of cost of living. And despite the huge gap between the present minimum wage and the current cost of living, the National Wage Commission can achieve equalizing the two by a host of mechanisms among which are direct wage increases, tax exemptions, price discounts at social security subsidies for workers,” Magtubo explained.

Magtubo also argued that "Since we should not impose the burden of household chores and child rearing to the female parent, then the basket of goods should provide for a house-help. That is not anymore a luxury especially in the light of the insistence of the state that both parents must work instead of having just a single breadwinner."

Saturday, May 1, 2010

May 1 protest demands a stop to layoffs and contractualization

Press Release
May 1, 2010


The call to stop mass layoffs and labor contractualization rang loud and clear in protests on Labor Day. The demand to reform the wage fixing system and abolish the wage boards were also highlighted in the protest motorcade dubbed “Sakbayan para sa Trabahong Regular at Dagdag Sahod” by the party-list Partido ng Manggagawa (PM).

“Can the 3,000 PAL employees to be retrenched on May 31 find work in the Labor Day job fairs of the government? If ever they do, they will probably end up as contractual workers, which is their same fate in the spun off companies to be created by Lucio Tan. Regular jobs are being destroyed and replaced by contractual work in which wages are cheaper, benefits are fewer and security of tenure is abolished,” declared Renato Magtubo, PM chairperson.

The May 1 motorcade converged by 7:00 a.m. at the PAL In Flight Center along Airport Road in Paranaque. A program was held in which Gerry Rivera, PAL Employees Association (PALEA) president and PM vice-chairperson, was the main speaker. The motorcade then proceeded to Mendiola for a joint program with other labor groups by 10:00 a.m.

Rivera criticized the Department of Labor and Employment for assuming jurisdiction (AJ) of the labor dispute in PAL when PALEA has not even held a strike vote and has not yet discussed holding a strike. The AJ order was dated April 23, 2010 and stopped PALEA from continuing with the protest motorcades that had mobilized hundreds of workers last week.

Magtubo called on PAL to cancel the retrenchment planned for May 31. “The failure of elections that could result from a slowdown or paralysis of PAL’s operations is the responsibility of management since it provoked the labor dispute,” Magtubo argued. PM is supporting the series of protest actions by PAL workers against spinoff and contractualization.

Magtubo also lambasted the government for freezing wages for the past two years and its announcement that no wage hike is forthcoming. “The minimum wage has been stuck at P382 while the prices of basic goods and services have skyrocketed. In the midst of rotating brownouts and less energy consumption, consumers’ electricity bills have increased by 50% and yet the government will not lift a finger to ease workers’ burdens. To the bitter end, the Gloria Arroyo regime remains anti-labor,” he exclaimed.

PM also led May 1 protests in Cebu, Bacolod, Iloilo, Davao and Iligan. In Cebu, more than 1,000 workers marched to the campout of the displaced Alta Mode workers at the gates of the Mactan export processing zone. PAL workers in Cebu joined the Labor Day program at the Alta Mode campout. In Bacolod, a caravan of more than 20 trucks from plantations in South Negros entered Bacolod in the morning and met with other contingents for an indoor rally at the Teacher Center. At the end of the indoor rally by 3:00 p.m., the participants marched to SM-Bacolod where a job fair was being held and tore in half an employment contract in a symbolic protest at contractualization.

Meanwhile in Iloilo City, a caravan of 20 jeeps ended in a rally at Plaza Letogay. In Davao, PM members assembled by 1:00 p.m. at the corner of Magsaysay and Roxas Blvds. before marching to Orcullo Freedom Park for a joint rally with other groups. Also in Iligan, PM joined a labor unity parade by the different labor groups that went around the downtown area. A program was then held at the City Plaza where workers concerns were discussed. Finally in Koronadal City, PM members led by the union of the Yellow Bus Line marched around the downtown area in the afternoon.