Wednesday, September 21, 2016

PM calls for justice for slain leader, victims of extra-judicial killings on anniversary of martial law:

The militant Partido Manggagawa (PM) today called for a stop to the killings due to the war on drugs and justice for one of their leaders ambushed last Saturday. PM joined the big mobilization of the coalition iDefend (In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity) this afternoon to commemorate the anniversary of the declaration of martial law.

“On the 44th anniversary of martial law, the struggle for human rights and democracy for all remains as relevant and critical as ever. With the war on drugs claiming thousands of lives and a state of lawlessness imposed on the whole country, civil liberties and democratic freedoms are under clear and present danger,” stated Wilson Fortaleza, PM spokesperson.

He added that “The prevailing climate of impunity that has resulted in wanton killings of alleged drug pushers and addicts has also provided fertile ground for politically motivated slayings. The ambush killing of PM-Cebu leader and organizer, Orlando Abangan a few days ago is testament to this. Abangan’s murder came after the killing of Gloria Capitan, an environmental activist in Bataan, last July 1, on the first official day in office of the Duterte administration. The extra-judicial killings done in the name of the war on drugs have now spilled onto slayings of human rights defenders.”

The iDefend members started assembling at 2:00 pm today in Bustillos Church before marching to Plaza Miranda for a mass and program. At 6:00 pm the iDefend marchers lighted candles to commemorate the victims of martial law, the war on drugs and political killings of human rights defenders like Abangan and Capitan.

Also in Cebu today, PM and other militant and human rights groups held a rally to call for justice for Abangan and Capitan. They marched around downtown colon this afternoon to call for a stop to the killings and to never forget the terror of martial law.

“We call on the authorities for a swift but thorough investigation of the killing of Ka Lando Abangan. We know that they are already pursuing leads that point to certain suspects. Still we urge them not to stop at the arresting suspected gunman but to probe who the mastermind is. Ka Lando is not involved in drugs and is respected in his community as an activist, so we believe that his killing is politically motivated and is related to his work as a human rights defender of urban poor and workers,” explained Dennis Derige, PM-Cebu spokesperson.

Derige also revealed that five days before Abangan was shot to death, he escaped a first attempt on his life. He recalled that several armed men riding motorcycles came looking for Abangan in a place where he frequently hangs out.

September 21, 2016

Monday, September 19, 2016

'Sampolan ang endo lords," labor and church groups demand

A test of sincerity to the government’s anti-endo campaign was launched today through caravan by an alliance of labor and church groups promoting dignity of labor and decent work.  Several members of labor coalition Nagkaisa also joined the caravan.
In a statement, the Church-Labor Conference (CLC) said, “a progressive version of ‘tokhang’ befits the country’s labor relations environment where power imbalance between workers and employers is so pronounced.”
Yelling ‘sampol!’ in a picket held in front of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) building in Intramuros Manila, CLC members demanded, as a test of guts, immediate action on pending cases related to contractualization effected by the country’s richest and biggest endo lords. 
A particular case was the 2011 massive outsourcing program that resulted in the loss of 2,400 regular jobs at the Philippine Airlines (PAL).  The two-year dispute ended with a Settlement Agreement in 2014 between PAL and PALEA.  Under the Agreement, PAL will re-hire as regular workers PALEA members who were locked out by the company in October 1, 2011.  Said provision of the Agreement has yet to be implemented by PAL.
“Sec. Bello: Kailan ba ang hustisya namin sa endo lord na ito?” read a poster with a smiling picture of Lucio Tan held by a PALEA member.  Lucio Tan presided over the mass layoff of PAL employees in 1998 and the outsourcing program in 2011. 
Aside from PAL, CLC and Nagkaisa members have also raised the issue of contractualization in companies owned by the richest businessmen such as Henry Sy, Gokongwei and the Araneta family who’s Pizza Hut was recently involved in mass termination of its sub-contracted employees.
After the kick-off protest at DOLE, the CLC-Nagkaisa caravan proceeded to the PAL Office at Macapagal Avenue where they held a program until lunch time.  Their next destination was the Senate where a hearing was supposed to be held the following day but which was moved to a later date. 
In the Senate, Partido Manggagawa (PM) and CLC co-chair Renato Magtubo urged the senators to pass the security of tenure (SOT) bills despite their non- inclusion in Malacanang’s priority legislative agenda.
“As independent policymakers you can move beyond the Palace’s pre-occupation to crime by enacting more coherent anti-poverty and social justice measures such as the SOT and pay hikes,” said Magtubo. 
He also warned lawmakers not to fall into the trap of the proposed “win-win” solution proclaimed by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) which promotes, rather than prohibits, contractualization through a more devious scheme of outsourcing. 
From the Senate, the protesters drove towards the airport area to hold their final program, first at PAL’s In-Flight Center in Terminal 2 and at Gokongwei’s Cebu Pacific in Terminal 4.  A candle-lighting at Nichols concluded the anti-endo caravan.

September 19, 2016

Saturday, September 17, 2016

PM condemns vigilante style killing of a leader

The militant Partido Manggagawa (PM) condemned the killing of one of its leaders in Talisay, Cebu today. Orlando Abangan, a community leader of PM-Cebu, was shot at close range by a lone gunman around 8:00 am while he was on his way home in Sitio Lawis, Barangay Maghaway in Talisay City.

“We condemn the vigilante-style killing of Ka Lando and call on the authorities for a thorough investigation of his murder. Justice for Ka Lando and other victims of extra-judicial killings,” declared Wilson Fortaleza, PM spokesperson.

Abangan, 35 years old, is survived by his wife and two children. He was a full time organizer of PM in the province of Cebu since 2001. During the last election, he built an organization of persons with disabilities in Talisay that campaigned for social protection and social services for their sector. Recently he was engaged as informal sector organizer of the labor center Sentro.

Fortaleza added that “In calling for justice for Ka Lando, we are also assailing the culture of impunity that has resulted to the spate of slayings everywhere. Labor rights and human rights are an indivisible whole. Before he was killed, Ka Lando was vocal in criticizing the extra-judicial killings in our country.”

PM is a member of the coalition In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDefend) which advocates that human rights and due process cannot be sacrificed in government’s ongoing war against drugs and criminality.

PM is joining iDefend  and other human rights groups in a rally in Manila on Wednesday, September 21, on the anniversary of the declaration of martial law. Justice for Abangan will be one of the demands of the forthcoming protest.

September 17, 2016

Friday, September 16, 2016

Metal company confesses to union busting complaint

The management of a metal factory in the industrial belt of Silang, Cavite has responded to complaints of interference in the exercise of the freedom to associate and inadvertently confessed to doing so. While management vehemently denied interfering, it nonetheless owned up to several instances of unfair labor practice—convening a meeting of workers to discuss the issue of unionization, investigating the documents of the union being organized, and even spreading the news of the union formation to workers resulting in confusion. All of these are an open-and-shut admission of management interference in the workers’ right to unionize.

In a letter-reply to the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre (, the management of Taifini through its legal counsel, said that “September 2 – Management held a general assembly with all its workers, including union members and officers. In the said assembly, the matter of the formation of the union was discussed and management emphasized that it respects the constitutional right of its workers to self-organize.”

Management using its authority to convene a general assembly of its all employees to discuss the formation of the union falls entirely within the ambit of unfair labor practice.

In the Labor Code of the Philippines, it is stated that “Art. 248. Unfair labor practices of employers. It shall be unlawful for an employer to commit any of the following unfair labor practice: 1. To interfere with, restrain or coerce employees in the exercise of their right to self-organization; …”

Further, in the letter-reply, it is declared that “3rd week of August – TCCI’s [Taifini] Human Resources (HR) Department got hold of all the registration documents submitted by the Union to DOLE. As part of HR’s responsibility, these documents were scrutinized mainly for verification and to ensure adherence to set rules/laws in the formation of the Union… After the receipt of the documents and thus a confirmation of the Union’s registration, news of its formation spread among the workers… As a consequence, there was confusion…”

The only conclusion one can arrive at here is that management itself spread the news of about the union formation. Once more this is confirmation of the union’s complaint that management personnel such as supervisors and managers talked to workers about unionization and harassed them to refrain from joining or to resign from the organization. No doubt, it created confusion, as Taifini’s own statement averred.

And as a last but very important point, it is unlawful for the company through its human resources department (HR) to verify and scrutinize the formation of the union for adherence to the law. This is the responsibility of the State through the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). For management to do so constitutes interference in the freedom to associate.

Article 2(1) of the ILO Convention No. 98 mandates that organizations of employers and workers are to enjoy “adequate protection against acts of interference by each other or each other’s agents or members in their establishment, functioning or administration.”

Taifini management will no doubt try to explain away each of these instances and even contend that in each case it was motivated by good intentions. But all these instances taken together, alongside other cases of harassment, using the “totality of conduct doctrine” leads to no other conclusion than that Taifini management did interfere in the freedom to associate and is trying to bust the newly formed union.

Aside from these instances of unfair labor practice, Taifini undertook other concrete steps as part of a campaign of retaliation and harassment. Management stopped overtime work for workers resulting in a reduction in take home pay. In the same Article 248 of the Labor Code, it is clearly spelled out that it is unfair labor practice “(e) To discriminate in regard to wages, hours of work, and other terms and conditions of employment in order to encourage or discourage membership in any labor organization.”

Also the president of the union was also demoted from his position as machine operator to mere helper, without just cause and without due process. Likewise, management sent two of its HR personnel to file a protest during the hearing of the union’s pending petition for certification as bargaining agent.

To redress the transgression of the freedom of association of Taifini workers, the union demands first of all, that the company issue a memorandum to be posted in two conspicuous places inside the factory stating that:

1.      It respects the right of its employees to unionize;
2.      It prohibits management personnel such as supervisors and managers from discussing unionization with workers, including joining or resigning from the union;
3.      It upholds the code of conduct of its customers, specifically compliance with workers right to organize a union.

The union likewise calls for the customer code of conduct provision on respect for freedom of association to be similarly posted in the factory premises.

Further the union insists that the union president be reinstated to his former position. Finally, the union calls for withdrawal of the protest of the two HR personnel against the union’s petition for certification.

September 16, 2016