Workers Party challenges Philippine President to protect labor rights at Hanjin

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The militant labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) challenged President Benigno Aquino III (PNoy) to uphold and protect workers rights at the giant Hanjin shipyard in Subic, Zambales as complaints mounted of violations of labor and safety standards. Dozens of members of PM and the Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) joined the Church-Labor Conference, an alliance of labor and religious organizations that is co-chaired by Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, in a rally this morning at Mendiola in Manila.


“The Hanjin shipyard is a graveyard of workers. While capitalists are scrimping on protection for workers and the government is sleeping on its job of enforcement, workers are dying in the workplace. Hanjin’s crooked path must be set straight by PNoy. Instead of beating war drums over the Spratlys it is better that PNoy wage war for workers rights at Subic,” insisted Renato Magtubo, PM chair.

On July 3 the groups leading today’s rally will hold a “Caravan for Decent Jobs and Humane Working Conditions.” The caravan will proceed from Manila to Subic in order to highlight the dire plight of contractual workers especially in Hanjin.

“PALEA supports our brothers in Hanjin who are seeking the redress of the same grievances as Philippine Airlines employees, which is contractualization and union busting. From airlines to shipyards, contractualization is wrecking havoc on the working and living conditions of workers. Ang laban ng manggagawa ng Hanjin ay laban ng PALEA,” exclaimed Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and PM vice chair.

PM also called for stronger labor enforcement and labor inspection reforms by the government in response to at least 26 deaths at the Hanjin shipyard and the rampant contractualization at the shipyard. “Accidents are not acts of divine providence that can be dismissed as unavoidable. Instead accidents are the result of unsafe acts and therefore preventable by strict enforcement of occupational safety and health and labor standards,” Magtubo claimed.

He added that “PNoy’s government must review Hanjin and its contractors for compliance not just with safety regulations but labor standards such as payment of minimum wages and benefits, observance of working hours and remittance of social security among others. Construction workers are among the most overworked yet underpaid of employees since they are generally unorganized.” Some 21,000 laborers work in the Hanjin shipyard but just a few hundred are claimed by the giant multinational as its employees since the all almost are hired by 19 subcontractors.



PM slams richest Filipinos as kings of contractualization

In reaction to the news about the richest Filipinos on the Forbes list of billionaires, the militant Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) called the top three—Henry Sy, Lucio Tan and John Gokongwei—as “kings of contractualization.” Renato Magtubo, PM national chair, argued that “While Forbes asserts that the booming stock market has increased the wealth of the richest Filipinos, we believe that their base income is the windfall profit from contractualization. Their flagship companies, SM of Henry Sy, Philippine Airlines (PAL) of Lucio Tan and Robinsons Malls of Gokongwei, are well-known as exponents of contractual employment and labor outsourcing.”

Gerry Rivera, president of the Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) and vice chair of PM, stated that Tan has become the second wealthiest Filipino by outsourcing and other violations of labor rights. “Despite the bountiful fruits of production, Lucio Tan as owner of PAL refuses to share with his workers through a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) and plans to squeeze even more profit from employees through contractualization,” he declared.

“As these rich Filipinos grow fat from contractualization, workers wages and benefits are getting thin in proportion,” insisted Magtubo. Magtubo and Rivera both called on President Benigno Aquino III to support the security of tenure (SOT) bill pending in Congress in his forthcoming State of the Nation speech.

PM and PALEA are supporting the bill that seeks to regulate the rampant practice of contractual employment and promises to be as controversial as the RH bill once it is tabled for plenary debates. The SOT bill has been passed by the House Labor Committee and is due to be scheduled for second reading in Congress.

Rivera added that “But $2.8 billion in wealth is not enough for Lucio Tan. The mother of all outsourcing scheme is in the offing, with 2,600 employees to be laidoff and made contractuals in SkyLogistics and SkyKitchen which are owned by Manny Osmena but, as journalist Raissa Robles pointed out in her expose, is just fronting for Lucio Tan. Further PAL wants an indefinite CBA moratorium on top of the 12-year suspension in negotiations. So while PAL workers have not been able to improve their wages and benefits via a new CBA, Lucio Tan’s pockets have been bulging.”

 “All through the years that PAL was losing, Lucio Tan has been getting richer. His get-rich-quick formula is nothing else but to cheapen labor costs by outsourcing the profitable units of PAL to third-party providers, such as Lufthansa Technik and MacroAsia, in which he has a stake,” Rivera explained.



Workers Party calls on Philippine President to certify Domestic Workers' Bill as urgent

The Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) today called on President Benigno Aquino III to certify as urgent legislation the Kasambahay bill (Domestic Workers' Bill) pending at the House of Representatives. “PNoy should led the housekeeping chore and push decisively for the passage of the Kasambahay bill so that the Philippines can ratify the Domestic Workers Convention. If PNoy will give the marching orders to the House majority, there is no reason for the Kasambahay bill not to be passed,” argued Renato Magtubo, PM national chair.

He added that “Domestic workers at home and aboard deserve to be treated as workers not slaves that should enjoy the mantle of protection of core labor standards. For too long, domestic workers have labored without the rights, benefits and protection enjoyed by other workers.”

PM welcomed the International Labor Organization’s adoption of the Domestic Workers convention as a “beachhead in the battle to win protection for domestic workers.” PM has been pushing for multilateral and bilateral labor agreements to safeguard the rights and welfare of Filipino migrant workers.

Magtubo also appealed to the House Labor Committee to fast track the hearing for the Kasambahay bill. “We expect the members of the House LaborCom who were labor’s allies in shepherding the Security of Tenure bill to show the same political will to push the Kasambahay bill,” Magtubo asserted. The security of tenure bill that provides stricter regulation of contractual employment has been reported out by the House LaborCom but has yet to be scheduled for plenary debate.

The group however insisted that despite the landmark ILO treaty, Filipino domestic workers abroad will still face numerous threats. PM is calling for an end to the deregulation of the labor export industry and for greater government regulation of labor migration.

“The case of the Filipino migrant teacher in Louisiana shows that even professionals not just unskilled domestic workers can fall victim to illegal recruiters because of sheer desperation and the gaping cracks in government regulation of labor export,” Magtubo explained. PM is assisting a group of Filipino migrant teachers in Louisiana in the USA to win justice against their illegal recruiters based in the Philippine and America.