Thursday, August 18, 2016

PM: Use DOLE powers to catch endo red flags thru visitorial and enforcement authority

In response to a statement from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) that there is no mechanism to detect illegal forms of contracting, the labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM) said that existing visitorial and enforcement powers enable the government to catch violations and impose compliance. “What is lacking are not the means to detect red flags but the will to enforce existing rules and laws against prohibited contracting,” argued Rene Magtubo, PM chair.

Tomorrow afternoon PM together with other labor and church groups under the Church-Labor Conference (CLC) are gathering some 100 leaders at the CICM compound in Quezon City to consolidate their campaign plans to end endo. CLC will map out its interventions in the ongoing review by the DOLE of Department Order DO 18-A and finalize its proposed amendments. Last July 1, CLC mobilized several hundred workers from different groups in a rally at the DOLE to present its 10-point proposals on eradicating contractualization.

Magtubo added that “DO 18-A sets out the red flags or prohibited forms of contracting. While Article 128 of the Labor Code gives the Labor Secretary, or his duly authorized representatives like labor inspectors, the right to visit and inspect establishments for compliance. The DOLE has enough weapons to wage a war on endo.”

“While present rules and laws already lays down sufficient guidelines and prohibitions that can and must be enforced, DO 18-A and the Labor Code provisions on subcontracting should still be amended to strengthen security of tenure and plug loopholes. For example, revise DO 18-A to ban contracting out of regular jobs, meaning work that is necessary and desirable to the business or trade of the employer,” Magtubo clarified.

“The DOLE can access employee records, review payroll lists, enter company premises any time of the day or night, interview any worker, all for the purpose of ascertaining facts and conditions relating to violations of DO 18-A or of labor laws as a whole. How can the DOLE be unable to find red flags with such vast powers?,” Magtubo insisted.

He stated that “Among others, DO 18-A explicitly bans repeated hiring of workers under short contracts, use of an in-house agency and also classifies as prohibited labor-only contracting if the subcontractor fails the so-called control test. Even just by using these as parameters, many contractors will be epic fails and thousands of workers should thus be made regular workers who can enjoy security of tenure and other benefits and entitlements.”

PM has proposed the deputization by the DOLE of labor unionists to beef up the cadre of labor inspectors and accelerate the inspections of establishments.

August 18, 2016

Sunday, August 14, 2016

There is a Marcosian solution to a parochial problem – PM

It is the Marcos family and not the whole nation that needs to move on by giving their dead a final resting place in Ilocos. 
This was according to Partido Manggagawa (PM), one of the many groups that assembled today in Luneta to express opposition to the Palace-backed burial of former President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB). 
“Hindi sa hindi bayani” is the group’s stand against the plan of giving Marcos a hero’s burial at Libingan.
“The former dictator ruthlessly ruled and divided this nation for over two decades, thus, his burial at Libingan can never be considered a unifying action.  It is the Marcos family that needs to move on in this issue by doing a simple and final act of laying their dead in Ilocos,” said the group in a statement sent to media.
This Marcosian solution, the group believes, is the proper way of disposing a parochial problem common to powerful oligarchs that rule this nation.  “Consume your troubles as yours alone as the Filipino people have deeper problems to confront, many of which were in fact of your creation,” said PM.
The group likewise believed the presidential endorsement made by President Duterte cannot bring this issue to a final closure, saying his personal commitment to the Marcos family does not necessarily represent the unified sentiment of the Filipino people.

August 14, 2016

Monday, August 8, 2016

PM asks DOLE to inspect biggest workers cooperative

In response to the Department of Labor and Employment’s declaration that more than 5,000 contractors are to be assessed this year, the labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM) asked that Asiapro, the country’s biggest workers cooperative, be first in line for inspection. Asiapro Multi-Purpose Cooperative, according to its website, deploys between 33,000 to 35,000 workers in more than 200 clients, among them multinational agribusiness firms Dole and Del Monte in Mindanao.

“Just by the sheer scale of Asiapro’s operations, the assessment and inspection should start with it. Moreover, Asiapro’s ‘worker coop’ model has been an object of controversy, to put it mildly, and has been the subject of legal cases and labor disputes. We urge the DOLE to seriously investigate if Asiapro is compliant with existing laws and regulations, specifically the prohibited practice of labor-only contracting,” stated Rene Magtubo, PM national chair.

He added that “It boggles the mind that one cooperative can have the expertise and the tools to engage in a full spectrum of businesses from agribusiness to real estate to manufacturing to merchandising and retail, and even mining. Only in the Philippines!”

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello was quoted as saying that the DOLE’s initial target was 5,150 registered subcontractors and their 26,194 principals. “Of the 416,343 workers deployed by contractors according to the DOLE, Asiapro alone accounts for almost 10%. Asiapro is as big as a contractor can get,” Magtubo exclaimed.

He elaborated that in Asiapro’s operation in the hauling company Galeo which in turn is a contractor in the Carmen Copper mine in Toledo City was instructive of how the ‘workers coop’ works. “In 2014, workers at Galeo tried to form a union but were stopped by a TRO since Asiapro claimed that the employees were their members. Later, Galeo dropped Asiapro as subcontractor and engaged another ‘worker coop,’ but it was still these same workers who were driving and manning Galeo’s trucks, despite the changes in their alleged employers,” Magtubo insisted.

As a coop, Asiapro only has 473 regular members who have full rights, including right to vote and be voted but 98% of its members are associate members with no similar rights. It is the latter who are deployed as workers in Asiapro’c clients. Asiapro does not pay wages to the workers it deploys but a gross share in the profit of the service contract entered with the client. Still the gross share is always equal to the minimum daily wage in the region multiplied by the number of days worked.

“The Supreme Court has once declared that Asiapro’s associates are actually its workers by virtue of the four-fold test, that is, Asiapro has the power to hire, fire, pay wages and control the means and method of the work,” Magtubo reminded.

August 8, 2016

Friday, August 5, 2016

PM wants union officers deputized as labor inspectors for endo campaign

The workers group Partido Manggagawa (PM) called on the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to deputize union officers as labor inspectors to assist in the campaign to end endo. “By deputizing labor leaders, the number of inspections of establishment using subcontracting schemes can be multiplied overnight, enforcement can be strengthened immediately, and hundreds of thousands of contractual workers can be regularized as a result,” asserted Rene Magtubo, PM national chairperson.

PM also supported the proposal of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines to criminalize violations of laws and regulations on contractualization. “Still employers and their contractors must first be found guilty of violations and thus we urge the deployment of union officers as labor inspectors to level up the enforcement and compliance system,” Magtubo argued.

He added that “If Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello’s target of reducing contractualization in half by the end of the year, then the present cadre of some 600 labor inspectors must be beefed up by trained and motivated volunteers from the workers movement.”

In response to employers’ opposition to the criminalization, the group finds nothing controversial about jailing violators of labor laws and regulations. “Former Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz already proposed criminalizing breaches of occupational health and safety standards in the wake of the Kentex fire that killed at least 72 workers and employers did not threaten to relocate to Vietnam or Cambodia to evade incarceration,” Magtubo reminded.

He explained that “Let us not forget the lessons of Kentex. The Valenzuela factory was found compliant after three site inspections by a DOLE labor inspector who mechanically followed a checklist but did not go beyond it, like for example verifying if the manpower agency used by Kentex was duly registered, which in fact it was not. A determined union officer deputized as labor inspector would not make the same mistake.”

According to the DOLE, in October 2011, a month before the issuance of DO 18-A which regulates the practice of subcontracting, there were 200,000 contractual workers under 2,624 registered subcontractors. “Needless to say, this data is grossly incorrect and patently underreported to put it mildly. In a succeeding 2012 survey by the Bureau of Labor and Employment, 30.5 percent of total employment of 3,769,259 (based on establishments with 20 or more workers) or more than 1 million are non-regular workers, meaning apprentices, probationary, seasonal, casual and project-based workers. In the same survey, one third of factory workers were found to be contractual. DOLE’s labor inspectors alone would be overworked to finish inspecting the working conditions of more than one million contractual workers.”

“We call on DOLE to train union officers in the labor inspection and enforcement process and then accredit them appropriately,” Magtubo added 

August 5, 2016

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Stop union busting at an electronics parts supplier to Apple and car companies

Labor rights are under threat at an electronics parts supplier to Apple and car companies Delphi, Mitsubishi, Hyundai and Lamborghini, among other big companies. The bosses at NT Philippines Inc., a Japanese-owned company in the biggest export zone in the Philippines, are trying to bust the newly formed union.

The union president has been removed from the factory and assigned to a sister company located miles away. Other union officers have been transferred to another plant of the factory in a bid to isolate them from fellow workers. Workers are being harassed and intimidated, and told that the company will close once its customers know of the unionization.

The labor union at NT Phils. calls for solidarity from its brothers and sisters in the international workers movement. Likewise it calls upon Apple, Delphi and other electronics and automobile manufacturers that source parts from NT Phils. to uphold their supply chain code of conduct and commitment to freedom of association.

In response to union busting, the union has initiated a complaint at the Labor Department and is demanding the return of the union president and other officers to their former assignments, a stop to the campaign of harassment and intimidation, and other forms of management interference, and a public declaration of NT Phils. to respect freedom of association.

Workers formed a union in order to better their working conditions and have a voice in the workplace. But they now face a concerted effort by the bosses to derail unionization to keep wages cheap, jobs insecure and workers docile.

This is the first serious test of freedom of association under the new administration of President Rodrigo Duterte. The Philippines has recently come under scrutiny by the International Labor Organization for violation of Conventions 87 and 98 on the right to organize and bargain collectively.

NT Phils. Inc. has some 900 regular workers but including contract employees, has a total workforce of more than 1,000. It is located at the Cavite Economic Zone, the largest state-administered export zone in the Philippines.

The factory produces flexible printed circuits for use in cellphones, spark plugs and other car parts. The mother company is Nampow Trading Company of Osaka, Japan. NT Phils. exports to China, US, Japan and Korea.

Among the direct customers are:
Flextronics of Singapore, US-owned, one of largest electronics contract manufacturers, supplies to Apple;
Jabil Circuit of US, a global electronics manufacturer and service provider; supplies to Apple
Delphi of UK, one of the world’s largest automotive parts manufacturer;
Valeo of France, a multinational automotive supplier, among them Mitsubishi;
Yura of Korea, an automotive electronics parts supplier, among them Hyundai;
NGK of Japan, the world biggest supplier of spark plugs;
Visteon of US, a spinoff of the Ford Motor Company;
TRW Automotive of US, a parts supplier now owned by ZF Friedrichshafen AG of Germany;
Midtronics of US, a battery management company;
Zollner Elektronik AG of Germany, a top electronics contract manufacturer;
Hella of Germany, an electronics and lighting company;
Temic of Germany, an automotive electronics manufacturer;
Integrated Micro-Electronics Inc., part of the Ayala Group of Companies in the Philippines.

August 3, 2016