Sunday, May 29, 2011

Violence, demolition threaten Calamba community

Press Release
May 29, 2011
Alyansa ng Maralitang Pilipino

Shots were fired and stones were hurled at the houses of two leaders of an urban poor community that is being threatened by demolition. The incidents happened late night of Friday as residents of a community at Purok 3, Barangay Makiling in Calamba, Laguna were resting and sleeping.

“We call on Mayor Jun Chipeco of Calamba and newly reappointed DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo to assist the urban poor of Calamba who are being threatened by an illegal demolition,” stated Ramil Cangayo, coordinator of the Calabarzon chapter of Alyansa ng Maralitang Pilipino (AMP), a national network of urban poor organizations that is campaigning for a moratorium on demolitions, reforms in the housing policy and housing security of informal settlers.

At 11:45 pm last Friday three shots were fired at a light bulb in the house of Zeny Martirez, treasurer of the Samahang Magkakapitbahay Magkakaibigan Kapuso (SMMK). The shards fell on the face of her child who sustained injuries. The family recovered two bullet fragments inside their house. Earlier at 10:00 pm stones were thrown at the house of Mike Brendes, auditor of the group. Martirez and Brendes filed a report at the barangay yesterday about the incidents. SMMK leaders suspect the violent harassment is connected to the demolition being threatened by barangay captain Soliman Lajara and a certain Cao of Galaxy Realty Corp which owns the lot on which the community stands.

“Some 86 families are now living in fear because of the harassment and threats. Cao and Lajara are warning the residents that they must leave tomorrow or else be demolished. However there is no demolition order so clearly this is illegal,” Cangayao explained.

The leaders and members of SMMK had staged a rally and held a dialogue with Mayor Chipeco last May 10. Negotiations with the mayor’s office are still ongoing.

Renato Magtubo, national chair of Partido ng Manggagawa, called on President Benigno Aquino III to sign a draft executive order providing for a moratorium on demolitions and evictions. “The spate of violent demolitions in Metro Manila, Calabarzon and Metro Cebu reveal the need for a moratorium on evictions. During the pendency of the moratorium, government must hold an honest dialogue with the urban poor for strategic solution to the problem of housing for the poor,” he explained.

PM and AMP and are involved in the consultations held by the cabinet level task force headed by Secretary Robredo with the mandate to formulate and recommend policy resolutions on the housing issues confronting the urban poor. An executive order for the moratorium drafted as a result of the consultations has remained unsigned by President Aquino.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

PM calls for public employment program in response to unemployment

Press Release
May 26, 2011

The Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) called on the government to create a public employment program in response to worsening unemployment under the administration of President Benigno Aquino III. “Instead of flying off to Thailand to entice investors for PPP projects, PNoy should stay in the country and create an aggressive public employment program that will create millions of jobs. The PPP that workers want is not Public-Private Partnership but Programang Patrabaho para sa Pilipino,” asserted Renato Magtubo, PM national chair.

The recent SWS survey showed that an additional one million Filipinos loss their jobs since November. This is in addition to more than a million more unemployed Filipinos since President Aquino took office. Unemployment was 20.5% when the Aquino administration started then jumped to 23.5% last November and further to 27.2% as of March.

“The public employment program should not be limited to street cleaning and whitewashing walls but must include restoring the environment and building housing for the poor aside from the usual public works projects. Given the sorry state of the environment and the backlog in public housing, just these two sectors are significant enough to provide millions of jobs for a start,” Magtubo stated. Aside from a public employment program, PM is calling on the government to discourage retrenchments and curb contractualization as immediate steps and then shift to a strategic policy of strengthening the local economy to generate jobs.

“The SWS survey showed that among the factors contributing to increased unemployment was contractualization and layoffs. The decision of the Labor Department and the Office of the President allowing Philippine Airlines to terminate and outsource some 3,000 jobs is sending the wrong signal to employers that it is ok for them to cut regular jobs then hire contractual workers,” Magtubo explained.

He added that “PNoy must end endo. He must stop contractualization. He must make a favorable decision on the motion for reconsideration of the Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association against the outsourcing scheme.” Endo is short for end of contract and a popular term for contractual workers losing their jobs before the maximum six-month probationary period before they are mandated to become regular employees.

“However the strategic solution to the unemployment and underemployment problem is to strengthen the local economy instead of weakening it by liberalization, privatization and deregulation. The worse controversy for the IMF is not the sex scandal of its former head but the collapse of domestic economies such as ours because of the bitter pill it has prescribed,” Magtubo argued.

He added that “Supporting the local economy means policies to promote domestic agriculture—among them agrarian reform—and national industrialization. Filipinos should have decent regular jobs in our country instead of being forced to seek greener pastures abroad.”

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Job security and union membership gave courage to IMF head accuser

Press Release
May 25, 2011

The Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) today pointed out the little known fact that the hotel maid who is accusing Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund and erstwhile possible French presidential candidate, is a union member covered by a contract that guarantees job security.

“This celebrated case of sexual assault could have gone the way of many—unreported and unknown—if the victim had not been an empowered woman because of union protection and security of tenure. Personal courage and union membership gave the immigrant worker from Africa the guts to fight a rich and powerful man,” asserted Judy Ann Miranda, PM secretary general.

The hotel maid works in the Sofitel Hotel whose employees are organized and represented by the New York Hotel Trades Council. A collective bargaining contract guarantees security of tenure to their members which mean that unlike ordinary workers in America, they cannot be fired without reason.

“This incident and others like puts a spotlight on the need to protect job security for workers in general and women in particular. Thus we call on Congress to pass the proposed security of tenure bill,” Miranda added. The security of tenure (SOT) bill is due to be reported out by the House Labor Committee for plenary deliberation. “We expect the SOT bill to be just as controversial as the RH bill. This time the Catholic Church will be an ally rather than an antagonist of women workers,” she emphasized.

Miranda stated that “The hotel maid’s case is not exactly the same but is similar to the Philippine Airlines (PAL) ground attendant’s complaint against an abusive politician. Drawing from her personal stores of courage, PAL employee Sarah Bonnin-Ocampo chose to pursue a case against AVE Rep. Eulogio Magsaysay and once she did despite the indifference of PAL, the Philippine Airline Employees’ Association was there to support her. If the hotel maid and Sarah were contractual workers, they would have simply have suffered in silence.

Miranda argued that “In a context where anybody can be fired at will, a lowly worker victimized by a company client learns to be docile for the sake of her livelihood. Women’s empowerment cannot be divorced from labor rights given the fact that half of the work force is female.”

PM is at the forefront of the campaign against contractualization and the advocacy for the security of tenure bill. It is also active in lobbying for the RH bill and the fight against sexual harassment in the workplace.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Filipino migrant teachers in Louisiana win POEA case

Press Release
May 22, 2011

The Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) found in favor of ten Filipino migrant teachers deployed to Louisiana, USA in an administrative case against their recruiter. In a decision dated May 9, 2011, the POEA cancelled the license of the local-based recruitment agency, imposed fines and awarded refund to the complainants.

“We welcome the victory of the brave Filipino migrant teachers of Louisiana. This comes in the wake of earlier awards by the Louisiana Work Commission (LWC) to the teachers for violation of labor laws in the US by their US-based recruiter. Hopefully illegal recruiters will learn a lesson from the courageous fight put up by the teachers,” stated Judy Ann Miranda, secretary-general of Partido ng Manggagawa (PM).

PM is assisting the Filipino migrant teachers in their organizing efforts through a US-based liaison officer and in their legal case here in the Philippines. Among the complainants who won an award from the POEA is Mairi Nunag-Tanedo who is executive vice president of the Filipino Educators Federation of Louisiana (FEFL), the organization formed by the US-based teachers in pursuit of their campaign for justice against their illegal recruiters.

“We encourage other teachers who have been similarly victimized by PARS and UPI or other illegal recruiters to come out and fight for your rights. We will support you and through perseverance, you will surely win as the precedent of the Louisiana teachers have shown,” Miranda added.

In the decision signed by POEA Administrator Carlos S. Cao, Jr., the local-based PARS International Placement Agency and the US-based Universal Placement International (UPI) was found guilty of overcharging of fees. The license of PARS was ordered cancelled, and its officers and directors of the agency at the time the offense was committed were also prohibited from engaging in the business of overseas placement. Fines were also imposed on PARS. Finally, refunds in amounts ranging from USD 4,583.33 to USD 7,169.33 were awarded to each of 10 complainants. They had originally paid around $15,000 as placement and other fees.

Moreover UPI was prohibited from participating in the overseas placement program of the government. The owners of PARS and UPI, Emilio V. Villarba and Lourdes Navarro respectively, were also put in the POEA’s list of people with derogatory records. These two entities, according to PM and FEFL are owned and operated by one family since Villarba and Navarro are siblings.

In separate cases filed by some 15 teachers more than a year ago, the two agencies were accused of over-charging their clients of placement and other fees, and contract violations. Last April 10, 2010, the LWC ruled that UPI had charged the teachers certain fees which were prohibited and premature under state laws, and ordered it to repay the Filipino teachers $1.8 million in illegally charged fees.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

PM welcomes MMDA proposal for fixed monthly salaries for drivers

Press Release
May 19, 2011

The Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) welcomed the proposal from the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) of fixed monthly salaries for bus drivers and conductors instead of commission-based pay. The group also offered to involve labor leaders in the inspections that the MMDA and the Department of Labor and Employment plan to conduct tomorrow in bus terminals.

Renato Magtubo, PM chair. meanwhile slammed bus operators for opposing the fixed income scheme. “We ask the bus operators to moderate their greed in interest of road safety and workers welfare. Bus companies have the gall to say that drivers and conductors might reject the fixed income proposal because it will reduce their pay when in fact it is they who oppose it because it will diminish their profit,” Magtubo explained.

“The death of journalist and professor Chit Estella-Simbulan would not have been in vain if it leads to reforms in road safety such as better working conditions for drivers and conductors. As Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz had earlier ok’ed our proposal for labor groups to get involved in labor inspections, we now ask the DOLE and MMDA to immediately deputize labor leaders as labor inspectors before another commuter and worker is killed,” stated Magtubo.

PM had earlier called on the DOLE to deputize labor leaders as inspectors in the wake of the twin accidents at Eton construction sites in Makati and Quezon City. “Aside from the abusive commission-based pay, rampant contractualization at bus companies must also be addressed. Happy workers are hard and safe workers. Bus companies must realize that the increase in productivity in the long-term will make up for their short-term decrease in profit,” Magtubo asserted.

Gerry Rivera, president of the Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA) called on bus drivers, conductors, mechanics and other workers to unionize. “A unionized establishment is a safe and satisfying workplace. We are willing to help fellow workers in the transport sector who will exercise their Constitutionally-protected right to organize. PALEA and the International Transport Federation will support them in this effort,” he elaborated.

PALEA is an affiliate of the ITF, a global union that represents some 4.6 million workers in the transport sector. In a hearing called by the House of Representatives Labor Committee on the labor row at Philippine Airlines, PALEA called on solons to pass a measure to mandate fixed income wages for bus drivers and conductors, and to report out the pending Security of Tenure bill. The latter bill seeks to curb contractualization in establishments, including the air and land transport.

PALEA tells House Labor Committee that negotiation is the solution to the PAL labor row

Press Statement
May 19, 2011
PALEA

The Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) calls on the House Labor Committee in its hearing today on the labor row at Philippine Airlines (PAL) to uphold labor rights and defend workers in our country. Further we call on the LaborCom to exert moral suasion on PAL to open negotiations with the PAL unions as the solution to the labor row at the flag carrier. We have lost hope in the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) that it will protect workers from abuse by employers. Thus we consider the LaborCom as a venue where PAL employees can seek redress of our grievances.

Since this is an investigation in aid of legislation, we call on the House Labor Committee to, first, uphold workers security of tenure by reporting out the Security of Tenure bill and second, protect workers the right to strike by drafting a bill to rationalize and restrict the government’s assumption and certification power by limiting its application to cases of “essential services” as per ILO’s recommendation instead of “national interest.”

The case of PALEA is a perfect example of the continuing threat to workers' rights and trade unionism in the Philippines. PALEA is a big labor union with a long history. It has an existing CBA that prohibits the contracting out of jobs that are performed by regular employees. Despite these, PALEA is now under threat of annihilation.

In August 2009, during the period for the negotiation of a new CBA between PAL and PALEA, PAL announced its intention to close several departments of the company (In-Flight Catering operations, Airport Services operations and Call Center Reservation operations) and “outsource” its functions to various service providers. With PAL's outsourcing plan, the CBA prohibition will be ignored; more than 2,600 employees will be terminated. Thirteen out of twenty one PALEA officers will be terminated. Only 900 rank and file employees, mostly administrative staff, will remain after the first wave of the mass termination. We expect that the first batch of 2,600 employees will be followed by further termination as the contracting out of the core services will also affect the administrative staff.

There are no sufficient bases for retrenchment. Retrenchment is a measure of last resort which should only be undertaken in case of serious and imminent losses. A close review of the financial statements and disclosures of PAL reveals that its business condition is improving and not deteriorating, thereby negating the necessity for retrenchment.

Despite the excellent financial condition of the company--US$ 75.0 Million or PHP 3 Billion, for nine months--PAL refuses to share the benefits of the company’s operations to its workers, through a CBA. After making its workers sacrifice their collective bargaining rights for more than a decade, PAL now rewards them with termination and refusal to bargain.  

PAL is adopting a three-strike approach against PALEA: 

§    First, PAL violates the workers’ RIGHT TO SECURITY OF TENURE by terminating thousands of regular employees;
§    Second, PAL violates the workers’ RIGHT TO SELF-ORGANIZATION through its efforts to bust the union;
§    Third, PAL violates the workers’ RIGHT TO COLLECTIVE BARGAINING by refusing to bargain with PALEA for a new CBA.

We had expected the administration of President Benigno Aquino III to uphold workers’ rights, but we were greatly disappointed.   Unfortunately, the government, first, through the DOLE, with Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, and, now, the Office of the President, with Executive Secretary Jojo Ochoa, has sided with PAL, and has permitted PAL’s assault against the workers’ fundamental rights.

Further government has denied PALEA its right to defend itself through the abuse of the assumption and certification power of the Labor Secretary. Three assumption and certification orders were imposed on PALEA in the course of its struggle against outsourcing thus denying it the right to strike in defense of PAL employees. This has led to the protracted labor dispute at PAL that will now reach the international arena with the planned filing of a complaint at the ILO.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Pacquiao will not be a champ in the fight against RH bill

PRESS RELEASE
18 May 2011
The Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) stated that Rep. Manny Pacquaio will face the fight of his life in the RH bill and forecasted that he will not emerge a champ in this gruelling match. “Pacquaio may not have been knocked out by questions about the contradiction between his position and his wife’s Jinkee’s use of the pill, but he will not survive a decision by the Filipino people on his fight for the RH bill. Survey after survey has shown a majority want access to reproductive health, among them birth control which Jinkee has the privilege of enjoying as a billionaire’s wife,” asserted Judy Ann Miranda, PM secretary-general.

Once more, PM mobilized its members for lobbying with the Reproductive Health Advocacy Network (RHAN) at the House of Representatives in Batasan, Quezon City.  Hundreds of women trooped to Congress to see the expected debate between Rep. Edcel C. Lagman and Rep. Pacquaio on the interpellation for the RH bill.

And in response to Pacquiao’s support for the Catholic Church’s position, Miranda argued that, More or less 40% of the Philippine population are below the poverty line, these people, especially women, cannot afford having many children as per statement na ang utos ng simbahan ay humayo at magparami.  The workers greatly admire Pacquiao for his boxing prowess, pero sana naman pag-isipan niya na ang deklarasyon niya bilang kinatawan ng Sarangani in particular ay may malaking impact sa kalusugan at buhay na kababaihan.”

Insisting that Filipinos religiously follow the Catholic Church’s outmoded doctrine on family planning and contraception is disregard for women’s universal right to reproductive health,” declared Miranda.

“Bakit, Manny, pagtutulungan ba ninyo ng Simbahang Katoliko ang pagtugon sa gastusin at pangangailangan ng mahihirap na pamilya kung susundin nila ang kautusang ito?  If you can afford to buy a P4 million-bag for Mommy Dionisia, these poor Filipinos na marami ay kababayan mo cannot even afford to eat three meals a day, buy clothes and send their children to school,” added Miranda.

Indeed, Pacquiao has declared that he will not change his position, nevertheless, PM would like to make this last appeal, “Manny, mas kailangan ng mga manggagawa lalung-lalo na ng kababaihan ang tulong mo, more than former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza and the Catholic Church.  Hindi kami hihingi ng balato mula sa milyon-milyong dolyar na kinikita mo sa boxing at commercials mo, ang hihingin naming balato ay puwang sa iyong puso para sa mahihirap.  Suportahan mo ang RH bill.”

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

PM calls on Pacquiao to reconsider anti-RH stand

PRESS RELEASE
17 May 2011
 
The Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) mobilized its members for lobbying with the Reproductive Health Advocacy Network (RHAN) at the House of Representatives in Batasan, Quezon City.  Hundreds of women trooped to Congress to support Rep. Edcel C. Lagman’s sponsorship speech for the RH bill. 

Insisting that Filipinos religiously follow the Catholic Church’s outmoded doctrine on family planning and contraception is disregard for women’s universal right to reproductive health,” declared PM Secretary-General Judy Ann Chan-Miranda.

And in response to Manny Pacquiao’s supporting the Catholic Church’s position, Miranda argued that, More or less 40% of the Philippine population are below the poverty line, these people, especially women, cannot afford having many children as per statement na ang utos ng simbahan ay humayo at magparami.  The workers greatly admire Pacquiao for his boxing prowess, pero sana naman pag-isipan niya na ang deklarasyon niya bilang kinatawan ng Sarangani in particular ay may malaking impact sa kalusugan at buhay na kababaihan.”

“Bakit, Manny, pagtutulungan ba ninyo ng Simbahang Katoliko ang pagtugon sa gastusin at pangangailangan ng mahihirap na pamilya kung susundin nila ang kautusang ito?  If you can afford to buy a P4 million-bag for Mommy Dionisia, these poor Filipinos na marami ay kababayan mo cannot even afford to eat three meals a day, buy clothes and send their children to school,” added Miranda.

Indeed, Pacquiao has declared that he will not change his position, nevertheless, PM would like to make this last appeal, “Manny, mas kailangan ng mga manggagawa lalung-lalo na ng kababaihan ang tulong mo, more than former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza and the Catholic Church.  Hindi kami hihingi ng balato mula sa milyon-milyong dolyar na kinikita mo sa boxing at commercials mo, ang hihingin naming balato ay puwang sa iyong puso para sa mahihirap.  Suportahan mo ang RH bill.”

PALEA lambasts House Ethics Committee for suspending hearing on “menopausal bitch” case

PRESS RELEASE
17 May 2011
PALEA

The Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) lambasted the House Ethics Committee, especially Siquijor Rep. Orlando Fua, Sr., for suspending the hearing on the complaint filed by Philippine Airlines ground attendant Sarah Bonnin-Ocampo against AVE Rep. Eulogio Magsaysay. The hearing was called by the Sub-Committee on Preliminary Inquiry of the House Committee on Ethics and Privileges for the initial review of the complaint but was suspended on a motion by Rep. Fua on the argument that the complainant was forum shopping.

“The old boys’ network among congressmen has reared its ugly head today. They may have won the battle but not the war. The fight continues until justice is served our sister Sarah. This is a fight of all frontline service workers who suffer indignities from abusive government officials, arrogant customers and even company management,” stated Ginalyn Licayan, head of the PALEA Women’s Committee. PALEA argued that the Ombudsman compliant is a separate criminal case while the Ethics case was for Magsaysay’s conduct as a congressman.

Women members of PALEA and Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) trooped to the House of Representatives to support Ms. Ocampo’s fight against Magsaysay. The hearing today was the next step after the House Committee on Ethics earlier found the complaint sufficient in form and substance. The complaint alleges serious misconduct, abuse of authority and conduct unbecoming of a high-ranking public official against Rep. Magsaysay. At the airport last December 17, Rep. Magsaysay shouted “menopausal bitch” and “bitch” several times to Ocampo after she told him that they do not have to power to change seating arrangements in the business class as per his request.

“It is clear to us that the solons have already agreed to kill the case at the Ethics Committee before they opened the hearing. It is apparent that Mr. Magsaysay’s ‘media apology’ not so long ago was no apology at all.  In his statement, Magsaysay justified why he called Sarah a ‘menopausal bitch’ and a ‘bitch’ repeatedly,” explained PM Secretary General Judy Ann Chan Miranda.  How can such an insensitive and arrogant public official serve his constituents well – especially women?   Kapag uminit ang ulo niya, he would resort to name-calling?  The fight is not yet over, Mr. Magsaysay!”

In Magsaysay’s reply to the complaint filed, he justified name-calling Ms. Ocampo a “menopausal bitch” by categorically saying that ‘the term menopausal was used without intention to malign Sarah but rather to describe figuratively the temper of complainant – a medically observed behaviour of middle age women.’  Use of the term bitch on the other hand was justified as ‘a common enough expression not really to slander but rather to express frustration over an unpleasant behaviour of a woman.’

PALEA has also been pushing management to come with a manual that will ensure protection of employees from abusive customers.

PM calls for scrapping of VFA in rally vs. US warship visit

Press Release
May 17, 2011

The Partido ng Manggagawa called for the scrapping of the Visiting Forces Agreement in a rally at the US Embassy this morning against the visit of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. “The USS Carl Vinson is an instrument of American imperialist aggression and its visit makes the PNoy government an accomplice in US military adventures. Its docking in the waters just off the Mall of Asia recalls the Mock Battle of Manila Bay that signaled US colonization of the Philippines,” declared Renato Magtubo, PM chair.

PM joined the Scrap VFA movement in the rally and the groups appealed to the Senate to repudiate the controversial military access agreement with the US.

“Among other reasons, the VFA flaunts the Philippine Constitution which bans nuclear weapons in our country and mandates an independent foreign policy. The visit of the nuclear capable USS Carl Vinson which just came from the latest US military adventure in Pakistan with a unilateral raid against Osama bin Laden contradicts all these provisions of the Constitution,” Magtubo asserted.

He added “Imagine an agreement such as the VFA breaking the supreme law of the land and yet PNoy leads in defending the visit as allowed under the access agreement.”

PM had earlier voice suspicion at the hush-hush tour of the aircraft carrier by President Benigno Aquino III and his top officials last Saturday. The group believes that a top secret agenda was discussed and speculated that it may be about more concessions about American access to Philippines as per the VFA and increased US intervention in the war against Muslim insurgents as a follow through to bin Laden’s assassination.

PM also warned at a repeat of the Subic rape case with thousands of US servicemen having rest and recreation in the country until tomorrow.

“Malacanang had made much of the fact that many Filipino-Americans are serving as crew of the USS Carl Vinson. But if Carl Vinson, a segregationist and militarist who had served for 50 years as congressman from the southern state of Georgia, were still alive he would have raised a howl at African-Americans and Asian-Americans holding positions in the aircraft carrier,” Magtubo explained. He revealed that Vinson was a staunch defender of segregation in the Southern US even as the civil rights movement for blacks gained ground in the 1950’s.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Labor group to AVE Rep. Magsaysay, fight is not yet over

PRESS RELEASE
16 May 2011

Complaints filed by the Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA), and PAL Customer Agent 3 and PALEA member Sarah Bonnin-Ocampo against Alliance of Volunteer Educators (AVE) Party-List Representative Eulogio Magsaysay for serious misconduct, abuse of authority and conduct unbecoming of a high-ranking public official at the House Committee on Ethics will continue hearing tomorrow at 1:30pm, Mitra Hall.

Women members of Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) and Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA) members will troop to the House of Representatives to support Ms. Ocampo’s fight against Magsaysay.

On 17 December last year, while on duty, Rep. Magsaysay shouted “menopausal bitch” and “bitch” several times to Ms. Ocampo after being told that they do not have to power to change seating arrangements in the business class as per request.

In Magsaysay’s reply to the complaint filed, he justified name-calling Ms. Ocampo a “menopausal bitch” by categorically saying that ‘the term menopausal was used without intention to malign Sarah but rather to describe figuratively the temper of complainant – a medically observed behaviour of middle age women.’  Use of the term bitch on the other hand was justified as ‘a common enough expression not really to slander but rather to express frustration over an unpleasant behaviour of a woman.’

“It really seems that Mr. Magsaysay’s ‘media apology’ not so long ago was no apology at all.  In his statement, Magsaysay justified why he called Sarah a ‘menopausal bitch’ and a ‘bitch’ repeatedly,” explained PM Secretary General Judy Ann Chan Miranda.  How can such an insensitive and arrogant public official serve his constituents well – especially women?   Kapag uminit ang ulo niya, he would resort to name-calling?  The fight is not yet over, Mr. Magsaysay!”

 “We remain resolute in pushing through with the complaint.  PAL employees and other frontline service workers are continuously victimized by abusive politicians and government officials.  They need to learn their lesson – that workers, especially women, are human beings, too, who have rights and dignity that should be respected,” added PALEA Women Committe Head Ginalyn Licayan. 

The PAL union has also been pushing management to come with a manual that will ensure protection of PAL employees from rude customers, including politicians and government officials.

PALEA attends NLRC hearing but will raise dispute to ILO

Press Release
May 16, 2011
PALEA

The officers of the Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) attended the hearing of the labor dispute with Philippine Airlines (PAL) concerning the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) at the National Labor Relations Commission this afternoon. However on Wednesday, PALEA will push through with filing a complaint at the International Labor Organization for violation of conventions on freedom of association, collective bargaining and the right to strike.

“The fight continues. We will exhaust all avenues in order to protect the regular jobs and improve the working conditions of PAL employees. The Philippines is party to international conventions that protect the rights of workers to form unions, negotiate CBA’s and hold strikes. But with government connivance, PAL is trying to bust PALEA through its outsourcing plan and is prolonging a 12-year CBA moratorium by refusing to negotiate,” Rivera explained.

This morning PALEA joined other supporters in the filing of the nomination of its lawyer Atty. Marlon Manuel for the post of Ombudman. “After the disaster of Merceditas Gutierrez, it is high time that the post of Ombudsman is assumed by a person of principles and resolve. Atty. Manuel’s track record of lawyering for farmers and workers fighting against giant companies such as San Miguel and PAL speaks for itself. PALEA might lose a brilliant counsel but the country will gain a competent Ombudsman,” Rivera elaborated. Atty. Manuel accompanied the PALEA officers in the NLRC hearing this afternoon.

On Thursday, the House Labor Committee investigates the labor dispute at PAL. PALEA and Partido ng Manggagawa will mobilize its members for the hearing. “The hearing will be an opportunity for PALEA to confront PAL in a venue that is open to the public and media. In this arena, PAL management will be forced to argue its case in the glare of media cameras and lawmakers questions. We are prepared for this confrontation with PAL management,” Rivera asserted.

Groups rally against “balik-probinsya program,” call for moratorium on demolitions

Press Release
May 16, 2011
Alyansa ng Maralitang Pilipino

The Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) and the Alyansa ng Maralitang Pilipino (AMP) mobilized its members for a rally led by the urban poor alliance Kilos Maralita at the HUDCC main office in Makati. Some 500 urban poor picketed the Atrium Building in Makati this morning.

“The proposed balik-probinsya program is a wrong solution to the problem. The urban poor built the cities and we are entitled to live in it,” declared Ramil Cangayao, an AMP leader.

Some 500,000 informal settlers are set to be relocated to the provinces under the balik-probinsya program proposed by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). After the HUDCC rally, the protesters also proceeded to the DAR main office at the
Elliptical Road
in Quezon City to continue the rally. The groups lambasted the balik-probinsya proposal.

The groups also called on President Benigno Aquino III to sign a draft executive order that provides for a moratorium on demolitions and evictions. “The spate of violent demolitions in Metro Manila and other areas, such as the Laperal compound, reveal the need for a moratorium on evictions. During the pendency of the moratorium, government must hold an honest dialogue with the urban poor for strategic solution to the problem of housing for the poor,” explained Cangayao.

AMP is a network of urban poor organization in Metro Manila, Southern Tagalog and Central Luzon that is campaigning for a moratorium on demolitions, reforms in the housing policy and housing security of informal settlers.

PM, AMP and Kilos Maralita are involved in the consultations held by the cabinet level task force headed by Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo with the mandate to formulate and recommend policy resolutions on the housing issues confronting the urban poor. An executive order for the moratorium drafted as a result of the consultations has remained unsigned by President Aquino.

Ed Casuy, leader of the Paranaque chapter of AMP, said that “We appeal to PNoy to make good on his campaign promise that he will declare a moratorium on demolitions and evictions. This is a promise that has remained unfulfilled to this day. Everyday that PNoy delays implementing a moratorium, more urban poor fall victim to illegal and violent demolitions and evictions.”

“Are vested interests with connections to key officials of PNoy blocking the draft moratorium order? Or has PNoy himself turned his back on his promise to the urban poor? The urban poor will not stop hounding PNoy in order to know the answer,” Casuy asked.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Labor party, nurse group join hands for RH on Nurses Day

Press Release
May 15, 2011

The Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) and a national group of nurses, the Alliance of Young Nurse Leaders & Advocates International Inc. (AYNLA), joined hands in pushing for the controversial RH bill on the observance of International Nurses Day last Thursday. “We link arms with our fellow workers in the nursing profession to advance their rights and welfare. Further workers and nurses add our voices to the growing chorus of support for the RH bill,” declared Renato Magtubo, PM chair.

In commemoration of Nurses Day, AYNLA national president Alvin Cloyd Dakis stressed the importance of a national comprehensive reproductive health law in the country to address the alarming maternal deaths, huge number of clandestine abortions and rising cases of HIV in the country and the vital role of nurses addressing these issues.

AYNLA is so far the most vocal nursing organization to have supported the passage of the RH Bill in Congress. For Dakis, it is essential for nurses to provide what their patients need and give them all the options they have for their health. “By educating them through appropriate information, we can make our patients the ‘Managers of their own health’ and be empowered in their choices” he said.

The International Nurses Day is celebrated annually every May 12 in commemoration of the birth of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing. AYNLA celebrated with the rest of the world in this year’s International Nurses Day by making an online awareness campaign of the event through Facebook and Twitter.

Aside from jointly pushing for the RH bill, PM and AYNLA had cooperated in exposing the problem of on the job training fees for new nurses. Magtubo attended a Senate inquiry last January on the alleged exploitation of nurses where they have to pay fees in exchange of their volunteer work in the hospitals. Together with other nurses groups, AYNLA testified to the truth of allegations that hospitals have been levying OJT fees on many unemployed nurses in the country.

“We have a lot of nurses who are unemployed in the country but we have a lot of health concerns to address, which we believe we can contribute a lot – like the much talked about reproductive health” said Reigner Jireh Antiquera, AYNLA vice chair. Antiquera saw the importance of mobilizing our vast health human resources to help in providing services for reproductive health such as health education, counseling, HIV treatment care & support, and various RH services.

PM raises suspicions on PNoy visit to US warship

Press Release
May 15, 2011

The Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) expressed suspicion at the scrapping of Manny Pacquiao’s courtesy call at Malacanang for a hush-hush visit of President Benigno Aquino III and his top officials to a US aircraft carrier. “It appears that PNoy prefers playing little brown brother instead of honoring a Filipino boxing hero. Given the circumstances, his visit to the USS Carl Vinson cannot be an innocent tour. The Americans talked to PNoy about something they wanted to remain secret, out of earshot of the Filipino people and out of the prying cameras of the media” asserted Judy Ann Miranda, PM secretary-general.

The group reiterated its opposition to the VFA and support for its scrapping. Moreover it called for the passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill in order to promote transparency in government and access to information by the people. PM is calling on the Senate to repudiate the VFA and on Congress to pass the FOI bill.

“Such a top secret agenda in the middle of the high seas could be anything from more concessions about American access to Philippines as per the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) to increased US intervention in the war against Muslim insurgents as a follow through to Osama Bin Laden’s assassination,” Miranda speculated.

She added that “It could have been understandable that since PNoy likes fast cars, he would also be obsessed with big ships. But the visit came at the invitation of the Americans not at PNoy’s insistence.”

“We cannot be faulted from assuming the worse due to the suspicious circumstances. This is a big issue despite Malacanang’s attempt to downplay the event as a tour and douse the fire of speculation about the incident,” Miranda furthered.

PM is preparing for protest actions against the four-day visit of the USS Carl Vinson. It also warned at a repeat of the Subic rape case with thousands of US servicemen due to have rest and recreation in the country.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

PM welcomes Malacanang concern for Jojo Malinao case

Press Release
May 14, 2011

The Partido ng Manggagawa welcomed Malacanang’s order for the speedy resolution of the case of slain Mt. Makiling forest guard Elpidio “Jojo” Malinao. “We appreciate President Benigno Aquino III’s order for the authorities to go after the perpetrators of Jojo Malinao’s killing. Jojo was that rare combination of being an advocate for both Mother Nature and Father Labor and justly deserves to be honored by the government as a Filipino hero,” asserted Renato Magtubo, PM chair.

Malinao was an active union leader being vice president of the UPLB chapter of the Organization of Non-Academic Personnel of UP (ONAPUP), a national council member of ONAPUP and a PM leader in Laguna.

Magtubo added that “We do not have any information yet that Jojo’s killing is linked to his union activities. Although in the Philippines, unionism is a deadly vocation.” According to international human rights groups, the country has the second most number of trade union leaders killed after Colombia. The group said that Malinao is the third PM leader killed in Calabarzon since its founding in 2001.

Meanwhile Gloria almariego, ONAPUP national president stated that “The death of Jojo Malinao left a vacancy in the leadership of ONAPUP that will be hard to fill. We are praying that the perpetrators will be caught. UP must do its part to give justice to the death of Jojo.”

PM together with the union ONAPUP stated that it will closely monitor the results of the investigation and prosecution of Malinao’s case.

PM pays respects to slain forest guard

Press Release
May 13, 2011

The Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) expressed its condolences to the family of slain Mt. Makiling forest guard Elpidio “Jojo” Malinao and paid its respects to a “fallen comrade.” Renato Magtubo, PM national chair, stated that “Jojo Malinao was not only an advocate for environmental protection, he was also an activist for workers rights. In Jojo’s case, in the line of fire is the place of honor. The University of the Philippines has loss a loyal employee and the working class movement, an able leader.”

Magtubo revealed that Malinao was the vice president of the UPLB chapter of the Organization of Non-Academic Personnel of UP (ONAPUP) and also a national council member of the union aside from being a leader of PM in Laguna.

He called on the authorities to investigate the motive behind Malinao’s killing and find the mastermind. “We demand justice for Jojo. The government must exhaust all means to find the perpetrators of thee crime. Jojo is not the first but hopefully the last trade union leader to be killed in Calabarzon,” Magtubo declared.

The group said that Malinao is the third PM leader killed in Calabarzon since its founding in 2001. Andrew “Bok Inoza, union president of Alaska Milk in San Pedro Laguna and chairperson of PM-Laguna, was shot to death in November 2006. Earlier Emmanuel Cosme Ibe, union president of Liwayway Manufacturing Corp. in Imus Cavite and a founding member of PM-Cavite was also shot to death in April 2001 at the height of the party-list election campaign.

Ibe’s killing came just three months after the assassination of Felimon “Popoy” Lagman, whose brainchild was the formation of PM. According to international human rights groups, the Philippines is second only to Colombia in the number of trade union leaders killed.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Postponement of MRT and LRT rate hikes a media stunt to promote privatization

PRESS RELEASE
11 May 2011

Malacañang’s postponement of the planned rate hikes in the MRT and LRT systems should not be taken as a considerate act of shielding the interest of the commuting public against price hikes but more of a deliberate stint for promoting the planned privatization of the railway mass transport systems, the labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) said in a statement.

PM is opposing not only the recently approved fare hikes in LRT and MRT but also the privatization of these public utilities.  The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has approved the new rates for MRT and LRT lines 1 and 2,  just a day after the NCR wage board granted workers P22 cost of living allowance (COLA).

The new rates would require commuters to pay P11 boarding fee, with an additional P1 for every succeeding kilometre.  Accordingly, the P20 fare for LRT line 1 from
Roosevelt Avenue
in Quezon City to Baclaran in Parañaque City will be increased to P30, while the P15 fare in LRT line 2 from Marikina City to Legarda in Manila will be hiked to P25.

But transportation officials said the hike is to be postponed amid the soaring prices of other basic commodities.  PM Chair Renato Magtubo said the postponement also has nothing to do with the rising prices of other commodities as claimed by a Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC) official, but more with the rush to privatize said firms.  He stated “Nor it can be presumed as a freebie to the measly cost of living allowance (COLA) granted by the wage boards to metro workers.”

The LRT system is the first to be bid out under P-Noy’s Public-Private Partnership Program.  DoTC officials claim that the private sector can do a better job in operating public utilities.  The government said it is spending at least P7 billion in subsidies to the MRT-LRT to keep fares affordable to ordinary commuters. 

The labor party said the Philippine privatization program begins with this usual propaganda line: That the government is losing money in running public utilities and the private sector can do a better job in managing them.

Earlier, Transportation Undersecretary Glicerio Sicat, head of the DoTC’s rail transport group, said the privatization of key government services had led to more efficient operations, citing as an example the privatization of public services such as water and electricity distribution which he claimed led to better and more reliable services.

But Magtubo said both P-Noy and Sicat were either absent or just cared for nothing during the last ten years to feel the impact of water and power privatization to ordinary consumers.

“The water and power privatization in the country is one of the largest privatization projects in the world.  After ten years electricity rates doubled and water rates increased by not less than 500% -- the main reason why we have one of the highest electricity and water rates in the world,” explained Magtubo.

Philippine privatization, the group added, led to the rise of private monopolies which destroys all the myths of free competition as mergers and acquisitions led to further monopolization of the market as shown in the case of PLDT-Digitel buyout – the same thing that is happening in the power and water industry.

PM insists that the light railway system is better left public, its rates remain subsidized, and service area even expanded to serve more poor commuters of the metropolis and nearby provinces. 

“The light rail should be maintained as the cheapest, most efficient and greenest mass transport in the country. Every peso spent by the government on subsidizing the LRT and MRT is money well spent. It does not only benefit the workers, students and the poor but protects the environment as well,” insisted Magtubo.

The group said that the cost-benefit accounting of the LRT/MRT operation should include a consideration of its “social good” delivered which cannot be quantified in money terms.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

P22 COLA is bad not good news

Press Release
May 10, 2011

The Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) criticized the P22 cost of living allowance (COLA) approved by the NRC wage board as “bad news instead of the good news promised by PNoy.” Renato Magtubo, PM national chair said that “Like in the Philippine Airlines dispute, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz is again the bearer of bad news. Nonetheless PNoy is to squarely blame. Instead of appealing to employers, he should have told the three government representatives in the wage board to push for a wage hike not a COLA. This will set a trend for the rest of the wage boards which will probably also grant a COLA instead of a wage hike”
This morning PM picketed the Department of Labor and Employment in protest at the wage board decision. The group called for the abolition of the regional wage boards and their replacement by a National Wage Commission.
“The government representatives in the wage board heard not PNoy’s call for a wage hike but the employers’ plea for cheap labor. Once more the wage boards have betrayed the workers. The P22 COLA is symbolic of the wage boards’ 22-years of service to the capitalists rather than the workers,” Magtubo insisted.
“The COLA is a misnomer since it is supposed to bridge the gap between the take home pay and the cost of living. But the cost of living in the NCR is already P1,010 as of March for a family of six and yet the minimum wage plus COLA adds up to only P426, which is will not even buy half of the basket of goods and services,” Magtubo explained.
He added that “PNoy should have put teeth to his talk. All PNoy had to do was declare an amount for the wage hike and order the three government representatives in the wage board to push for it. But instead of marching orders to the government representatives in the wage boards, he was content with a futile appeal to the capitalists.”
He explained that in every wage board, the regional director of the Department of Labor and Employment chairs while two more government representatives come from the Department of Trade and Industry and the National Economic Development Authority. Two representatives each from the workers and employers complete the seven-person wage board.
Magtubo argued that the wage boards have outlived their usefulness and should be replaced by a Wage Commission. He stated that “The mandate of the National Wage Commission will be to fix wages based on the single criterion of cost of living. This is different from the wage boards which are bogged down by convoluted and contradictory 10-point criteria in fixing wages. The Wage Commission should raise the minimum wage to the level of the living wage by a mix of mechanisms such as direct wage increases, tax exemptions, price discounts and social security subsidies for workers.”

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Women workers ask PNoy for wage hike as mother’s day gift

Press Release
May 8, 2011

On the occasion of mothers’ day, women workers from the Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) asked President Benigno Aquino to give an amount for the wage hike that he is asking employers to give. “A substantial wage hike would be PNoy’s best gift to working women on mother’s day. We therefore ask him to declare an amount that he believes should be received by workers,” said Judy Ann Miranda, PM secretary-general and a mother of one.

Tomorrow PM members will hold a rally to reiterate its support for the P75 wage petition as an immediate relief and highlight its proposal for a National Wage Commission as a long-term reform of the wage-fixing system.

“Women workers welcome PNoy’s call to the employers for a wage hike but he can do much more than broadcast an appeal. He should issue marching orders to government representatives in the wage boards to push for an amount that he considers necessary,” Miranda asserted. She explained that in every wage board, the regional director of the Department of Labor and Employment chairs while two more government representatives come from the Department of Trade and Industry and the National Economic Development Authority. Two representatives each from the workers and employers complete the seven-person wage board.

“As he had done with the RH bill and Merci’s impeachment, PNoy can put teeth to his talk. He cannot get away with the alibi that the wage hike is out of his hands. All PNoy has to do is declare an amount for the wage hike and order the three government representatives in the wage board to push for it. The workers want P75, the employers say they can only give P13, so want is the amount PNoy is pushing for?” Miranda elaborated.

She however insisted that the 23-year wage boards have outlived their usefulness and should be replaced by a National Wage Commission. “The mandate of the National Wage Commission will be to fix wages based on the single criterion of cost of living. This is different from the wage boards which are bogged down by convoluted and contradictory 10-point criteria in fixing wages. The Wage Commission should raise the minimum wage to the level of the living wage by a mix of mechanisms such as direct wage increases, tax exemptions, price discounts and social security subsidies for workers.”

A study by PM revealed that as of March this year the cost of living in Metro Manila for a family of six is already P1,010. “Even if NCR wage board approves the P75 petition, it will not be enough to bridge the huge gap between the minimum wage and the cost of living. The disparity between the P404 minimum wage and the cost of living is P606 or 150% of the ordinary wage. Even if two members 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,” Miranda asserted.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

PM says workers owed P50 in lost purchasing power, unpaid productivity share

Press Release


May 5, 2011


The Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) stated that employers owed workers at least P50 due to lost purchasing power and unpaid share in increased productivity in reaction to the announcement by the Employers Confederation of the Philippines that it can only afford P13 for the wage hike. “Capitalists are again trying to shortchange workers. Despite the minimum wage increases granted, workers still have P25 to regain in depleted purchasing power since year 2000 and another P25 to get as their share in improved productivity since last year,” declared Renato Magtubo, PM national chair.



He also added that “Workers are not children that can be pacified with candy. P13 is mere change thrown in the way of workers.”



PM is asking the NCR wage board to grant the P75 wage petition as immediate relief for the workers. The group also estimates that the cost of living for a family of six in Metro Manila is P1,010 per day as per its study.



Magtubo lambasted the employers for threatening layoffs and closures should the P75 petition be approved. “Capitalists are wolves in sheep’s clothing, claiming a desire to save the economy from the catastrophe of a wage hike when in fact they are just out to protect their profits from the workers’ claim to the fruits of our labor,” he insisted.



Magtubo countered the ECOP’s dire impact of the P75 wage hike. “To illustrate, a gas station owner with 10 gas attendants will fork out only P750 more in wages per day, equivalent to the cost of five cups of gourmet coffee. It will hardly dent the lifestyle of even a small capitalist but it will go a long way to feed, house, heal and school a worker’s family,” he elaborated.



PM arrived at its estimate of P25 in lost purchasing power using the 171.5 consumer price index (CPI) as of April 2011 according to the National Statistics Office. The base figure of CPI in year 2000 was 100 and the minimum wage in that year was P250.



P25 = [ P250 X (171.5 -100) / 100 ] – ( P404 - P250 )



It also arrived at the estimate of P25 in unpaid productivity share using the 2010 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of P2.43 trillion, the annual increase in GDP of 7.3% and the total number of wage and salaried workers of 19.3 million. The improved productivity created by workers is simply the increased wealth and is computed as 7.3% of P2.43 trillion. The workers share in that greater wealth is simply estimated by dividing by the number of wage and salaried employees and the 365 number of days in a year.



P25 = ( P2.43 trillion X 7.3% ) / (19.3 million X 365 ) ###

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Labor group supports call for protection and just compensation for media workers

PRESS RELEASE
03 May 2011


The labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) added its voice to the growing clamor for ensuring the safety of journalists amid the continuing assault against them even under the Aquino administration and for their just compensation in the face of the rising cost of living.

“While journalists are trained to be placed where the line of fire is, putting their lives in constant threat of violence however makes them suffer the unnecessary consequence of inexcusable state neglect.  On the other hand the nature of their job requires strong job security and just compensation as they perform both mental and manual labor,” said PM Chair Renato Magtubo in a statement sent to media.

A representative from the labor party attended the press freedom, democracy and empowerment forum held in Quezon City this morning sponsored by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP).

Partido ng Manggagawa believes that media organizations in the country can afford to give their workers just compensation while the State can institute more stringent measures in neutralizing threats to media persons.

“It is public knowledge that commercial media in the Philippines is a profitable business.  As an organization, each of them maintains core values on service, truth, freedom.  Yet majority of their workforce work as less paid contractuals, have no job security, have no unions and CBA’s and therefore not empowered compared to their counterparts abroad,” added Magtubo.

Meanwhile PM attributes the unabated media killings in the country to the culture of impunity developed under repressive regimes.  “In the case of P-Noy, however, the problem might be on the perceived weaknesses of his regime,” said Magtubo.

Magtubo pointed out that when dark forces see no strong signal of P-Noy leading this country to a new direction, then everything is business as usual, including the culture of violence and the policy of cheap labor.

“To end violence, P-Noy should decisively do away with horse-trading and political alliances which hinder the campaign against warlordism and organized crimes.  And to promote the well-being of journalists and the workers in general, he should change course by renouncing the policy of contractualization and cheap labor,” concluded Magtubo.

Monday, May 2, 2011

PM calls on wage board to grant wage petition as cost of living already above P1,000/day

Press Release
May 2, 2011

The Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) called on the Metro Manila regional wage board to grant the P75 wage hike petition as it convened for its first public hearing today. “We ask the wage board to break expectations and approve the P75 petition since our study reveals that the cost of living for a family of six in Metro Manila as of March this year is already P1,010 a day,” asserted Renato Magtubo, PM national chair.

Magtubo meanwhile criticized President Benigno Aquino III for Labor Day announcement yesterday. “Private sector workers got nada from PNoy. PNoy did not really break bread with labor but he broke tradition by giving nothing to workers, not even a consuelo de bobo of non-wage benefits,” he stated.

“Even if NCR wage board approves the P75 petition, it will not be enough to bridge the huge gap between the minimum wage and the cost of living. The disparity between the P404 minimum wage and the cost of living is P606 or 150% of the ordinary wage. Even if two members 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 Magtubo.

PM arrived at its cost of living figure using its April 2010 survey of the daily cost of living and the National Statistics Office’s 2.6% estimate of the inflation rate from April 2010 to March 2011. “Our estimate is already an understatement since the rise in prices has been accelerating since March,” Magtubo clarified.

Beyond the immediate wage hike issue, the group is however pushing for an overhaul of the wage fixing system in the country. PM is advocating for the establishment of a National Wage Commission to replace the regional wage boards.

“The National Wage Commission will be different from the wage boards in that its mandate is to fix wages based on the single criterion of cost of living. And despite the huge difference between the minimum wage and the cost of living, the National Wage Commission can bridge the gap by a host of mechanisms among which are direct wage increases, tax exemptions, price discounts and social security subsidies for workers,” Magtubo explained.

He added that “This is a reform that is addressed to Congress. The regional wage system is a 22-year old structure that badly needs fixing. It has disadvantaged workers and fostered cheap labor in the country.”

Sunday, May 1, 2011

PM slams PNoy’s contractual job policy, belittles non-wage benefits as “consuelo de bobo”

Press Release
May 1, 2011

The labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) slammed the non-wage benefits to be announced by President Benigno Aquino III on Labor Day and also the job fairs to be held by the Department of Labor and Employment. “On his first Labor Day, PNoy brings no good news for the workers, just a consuelo de bobo. Non-wage benefits should complement not supplant a wage hike,” declared Renato Magtbuo, PM national chair.
Magtubo also lambasted the “contractual job fairs” to be sponsored by the Department of Labor and Employment. “While 100,000 contractual positions are being offered in the job fairs the government is allowing the termination of 3,000 regular workers at Philippine Airlines. So is the employment policy of PNoy to foster contractualization?” he asked.
In Manila, PM together with the Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA), United Cavite Workers Association (UCWA) and Alyansa ng Maralitang Pilipino (AMP) assembled at Mehan Garden by 8:00 am then marched to Mendiola for a labor unity rally and mass officiated by Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo. PM also had Labor Day protests in Cebu City, Davao City, Bacolod City, General Santos City and Iligan City.
Meanwhile Gerry Rivera, PALEA president said that “The good news that PALEA wish to hear on Labor Day is PNoy declaring that he is against outsourcing. With PALEA’s motion for reconsideration pending at the Office of the President, it is high time that PNoy reveals if he favors the straight road of regular jobs or the crooked path of contractualization.”
Rivera criticized employers for threatening layoffs and closures in the response to the demand for a wage hike. “This is just the usual capitalist black propaganda and blackmail. Employers will not go bankrupt with a wage hike but they will lose some of their profit,” he explained.
In Cebu, some 5,000 workers attended the labor unity rally of 12 groups including PM, ALU-TUCP, APL, Makabayan, Super, IBM, NUBE, NFL, MKP and NUWHRAIN at the DOLE office by 3:00 pm. At 5:00 pm Cebu Bishop Palma led a mass with the workers.
In Bacolod City, PM mobilized around 1,000 farm and factory workers together with the urban poor in a morning rally. In the afternoon the marchers attended the provincial congress of PM.
In Davao, workers and urban poor assembled at Orcullo Park by 1:00 pm and then marched at 3:00 pm around the main city streets. In General Santos City, the anti-contractualization alliance KONTRA sponsored the rally at the downtown area from 1:00 to 3:00 pm. Finally in Iligan, PM joined the labor group FDLO in a mass in the early morning then a rally at the city plaza until noon.
PM estimates that the cost of living for a family of six in is around P1000 a day. PM based its estimate on its own cost of living study last year and the inflation rate over the past year.
The group is pushing for the establishment of a National Wage Commission. “The National Wage Commission will be different from the wage boards in that its mandate is to fix wages based on the single criterion of cost of living. And despite the huge difference between the minimum wage and the cost of living, the Wage Commission can bridge the gap by a host of mechanisms among which are direct wage increases, tax exemptions, price discounts and social security subsidies for workers,”  Magtubo explained.