Posts

JoMag: ‘I was surprised, shocked’

Department of Labor and Employment undersecretary Joel Maglunsod said he did not receive notice of his dismissal before President Rodrigo Duterte made the announcement in a speech Tuesday in Catarman, Northern Samar.

“I was surprised, shocked even,” Maglunsod told Kodao, adding he only learned of the President’s statement when he opened his mobile phone after conducting two meetings Wednesday morning.

“Many journalists have sent me messages about PRRDs statement and that was how I learned about it,” Maglunsod said.

Duterte said he fired Maglunsod because of his association with the militant Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) the President alleged was responsible for the upsurge in labor strikes throughout the country.

[Si] Joel Maglunsod, pinaalis ko. Pinagbigyan ko sila noong bago ako  kasi gusto ko nandoon sila sa opisina, Joel Maglunsod, sila lahat,” Duterte said.

(What went before: Labor movement hails, welcomes back ‘JoMag‘)

Maglunsod said he immediately went back to the DOLE offices in Intramuros Wednesday afternoon to consult with labor and employment secretary Silvestre Bello III and other department officials.

“They too were surprised,” Maglunsod revealed.

Maglunsod said Bello asked him to “stay put” until Monday. “He told me he (Bello) will be able to know more in Monday when he meets the President during their Cabinet meeting,” Maglunsod said.

The beleaguered official also told Kodao that he called up special presidential assistant Christopher “Bong” Go to request for a meeting with Duterte.

“He said he will ask the President (about my request),” Maglunsod said.

Maglunsod, who also hails from Davao City, said he considered Duterte his friend but felt it would have been better for him if the President told him directly about his decision before the public announcement.

“But it is his prerogative as the President and appointing power,” Maglunsod said.

He added he is ready to leave his post.

“But I hold my head high. I can categorically say I did my best in performing DOLE’s mandate. I have been fair, even to the employers. I always told them that we only need to follow the law,” he said.

The country’s major labor federations, including the KMU, the Association of Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, Sentro ng Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa, and Nagkaisa Labor Coalition unanimously defended Maglunsod as the official who consistently “bridged the ‘gap of trust’ between organized labor and the department by personally acting on complaints and facing mass actions of workers at the DOLE office in Intramuros.”

“I am grateful to the labor federations who expressed support. I have not had the chance to send them messages yet, but I thank them for validating my work as DOLE undersecretary,” Maglunsod said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Labor movement hails, welcomes back ‘JoMag’

Never has a Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) official been unanimously hailed and defended by the labor movement as Joel Maglunsod.

As when they issued a joint manifesto against labor-only contracting last year and jointly commemorated International Labor Day in May 1 this year, the country’s major labor groups were again united, this time in defending the official they fondly call “JoMag”.

They said President Rodrigo Duterte made a mistake when he fired Maglunsod.

The last prominent Leftist in the Rodrigo Duterte regime was unceremoniously fired by President Rodrigo Duterte in a speech before soldiers in Camp Sumuroy in Catarman, Northern Samar Tuesday, October 2.

[Si] Joel Maglunsod, pinaalis ko. Pinagbigyan ko sila noong bago ako  kasi gusto ko nandoon sila sa opisina, Joel Maglunsod, sila lahat,” Duterte said, adding the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) that Maglunsod served as vice president for Mindanao and national secretary general is “paralyzing the economy” with labor strikes.

The labor movement, however, defended Maglunsod once again.

“Maglunsod has worked for the mass inspection of violations on labor only contracting and other labor standards and occupational health and safety violations that resulted in favorable orders and decisions. Workers are eager to welcome back Ka Jomag in the picket-lines and marches and take part in the growing workers’ movement against Duterte’s anti-worker and tyrannical rule,” KMU chairperson Elmer Labog said in a statement.

Nagkakaisa Labor Coalition’s Rene Magtubo for his part said “President Duterte has made a major mistake in dismissing the services of Usec Jomag at the DOLE only to heed the advice of the military and anti-worker elements of his administration.”

“In his short stint as undersecretary of labor for industrial relations, he has bridged the “gap of trust” between organized labor and the department by personally acting on complaints and facing mass actions of workers at the DOLE office in Intramuros,” Magtubo added.

The Sentro ng Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (Sentro) for its part said it was wrong for Duterte to fire Maglunsod over the escalating labor unrest in the country, adding the official was labor’s closest ally in the DOLE.

“Ironically, the labor unrest now spooking employers and even the military was largely caused by Mr. Duterte’s failure to live up to his promise of ending contractualization,” Sentro leader Josua Mata said.

“Obviously, Usec JoeMag is being sacrificed to prop up the sagging image of Mr. Duterte,” Mata added.

Even the Association of Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) hailed Maglunsod’s achievements sa labor undersecretary.

“Jomag was always ready to listen and work out solutions to workers in trouble with their employers,” ALU-TUCP spokesperson Alan Tanjusay said.

“Jomag was the key DOLE official in helping move the very important security of tenure bill. He was also a key DOLE official in regularizing thousands of ‘endo’ (contractual) workers become regular workers,” Tanjusay explained.

Maglunsod, along with former social work and development secretary Judy Taguiwalo, agrarian reform secretary Rafael Mariano, anti-poverty commission lead convenor Liza Maza, and urban poor commission chairperson Terry Ridon were known progressives appointed to high positions in the Duterte Cabinet when he won the presidency in 2016.

He was a KMU member in Davao City who rose to become its chapter president eventually becoming its national secretary general for many years. Prior to being appointed to the DOLE, he was KMU vice president for political and external affairs.

He also served as Anakpawis Representative to Congress where he once grabbed news headlines when refused entry through the members’ gate because the guards saw him alight from a jeepney.

KMU’s Labog said that workers are eager to welcome back Ka Jomag in the picket-lines and marches and take part in the growing workers’ movement against Duterte’s anti-worker and tyrannical rule.

Both Maglunsod and the DOLE have yet to reply to Kodao’s request for statements. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

152 OFWs get Dubai exit pass; 88 home by August 15

By Angel Tesorero in Dubai / Raymund B. Villanueva in Manila

Dubai, UAE – A total of 152 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) were given an exit pass in the first three working days (August 1, 2 and 5) of the 90-day immigration amnesty program, Philippine consul-general to Dubai Paul Raymund Cortes said Tuesday.

An estimated hundreds of thousand dirhams of overstaying fines were waived by the UAE government while the Philippine Consulate paid for the exit permits, including the Dh221 for an outpass and Dh521 fee for lifting of the absconding case to clear the name of the overstaying expat from the immigration list and letting the person return to the UAE without travel ban.

The Philippine Consulate also booked one-way tickets (DXB-MNL) for the returning Filipinos.

“Out of the 152 amnesty-seekers, 93 were given free tickets; the rest were not aware that we are providing them with free tickets. Some of them have both tickets a month before. Unfortunately, we cannot refund the fare due to restrictions in the Philippine government auditing rules,” Cortes said.

He explained that booking should be done by the Philippine Consulate.

OFW Fernando Pacheho holding his UAE exit pass. (Photo by Angel L. Tesorero)

Cortes added that out of the 93 who were given free tickets, five are minors who will travel with their respective guardians and the travel expenses of the guardians will also be shouldered by the Philippine government.

The first batch of 88 returning Filipinos will fly out of Dubai on August 15 via Philippine Airlines flight PR 659 which will take off from DXB Terminal 1 at 7:35pm and arrive 8.15am the following day (Manila time) at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2, where they will be met by officials from the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

Cortes pegged the cost of sending home an overstaying Filipino at Dh2,200 each, including the cost of air fare and exit permits.

Dubai newspaper Khaleej Times earlier reported that, according to a source at the Philippine Consulate, around 5,000 overstaying Filipinos are expected to avail of the amnesty program and would probably go back home.

At a cost of Dh2,200 (fees and plane ticket) per person, the Philippine government is set to shell out at least Dh11m, which will be taken from the Assistance to Nationals (ATN) funds.

Cortes added that an undisclosed amount of welfare assistance will be provided to the returning Filipinos while the DFA officials in Manila will assist them in their travel from the airport to their respective hometowns or provinces.

“We are glad that the first of batch of Filipinos are finally going home and will be reunited with their loved ones and respective families. We are very happy that the UAE government has given them a chance to return to the Philippines through the amnesty program by waiving the overstaying fees. We at the Philippine Consulate are also happy to be part of bringing our kababayans (compatriots) back home through the DFA funding,” Cortes said.

He added: “We want to assure our kababayans that all assistance will be given to them to the fullest extent. And for those who will prefer to stay in the country and rectify their residency status, we will also provide them with utmost assistance in the documentation of their papers. But we would like to remind them to fulfill the necessary documents such as birth certificate to get a passport.”

PH government welcomes amnesty

In Manila, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) claimed 100,000 overseas Filipino workers would benefit from UAE’s amnesty declaration for overstaying foreign workers.

An expected 87,706 undocumented and overstaying Filipino workers are expected to apply for amnesty in Abu Dhabi and around 14,400 in Dubai, DOLE reported.

The amnesty program is effective from August to the end of October.

Those who wish to rectify their illegal status may be given assistance at the Philippine Embassy in the UAE as well as at Philippine Overseas Labor Offices in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, DOLE said.

DOLE said there are 646,258 documented OFWs in UAE, 224,572 of whom are in Abu Dhabi while 421,686 are in Dubai.

In light with this, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III called on overstaying as well as beleaguered OFWs to rectify their status in the Emirates or seek voluntary repatriation back to the Philippines.

“Our government is ready to help them if they wish to go back home,” Bello said.

OFWs who will seek voluntary repatriation will receive assistance from Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), including airport at cash assistance as well as overseas or local employment referral, livelihood assistance, legal at conciliation service, competency assessment at training assistance under DOLE’s Assist WELL (Welfare, Employment, Legal and Livelihood) Program. # (Photo by AL Tesorero)

KMU welcomes order regularizing 80 Nutri-Asia workers

The Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) order to Nutri-Asia Incorporated (NAI) to regularize 80 of its workers is an initial victory of the ongoing strike at the country’s biggest condiment manufacturer.

“This is an initial victory of the workers’ strike at Nutri-Asia. The DOLE has been forced to come out with a decision to regularize 80 contractual workers because the workers are unionized and are militantly asserting their rights,” KMU chairperson Elmer Labog told Kodao.

In a July 5 announcement, the DOLE said it has ordered NAI to regularize workers contracted through Asia Pro Multi-Purpose Cooperative (AMPC) because it is engaged in an illegal labor-only contracting agreement.

In an report issued last June 24, DOLE Region 3 director Zenaida Angara-Campita said AMPC has no capacity to buy its own equipment and machines and is a mere NAI lessee.

AMPC also has no control and supervision over its contracted workers under the agreement it entered into with NAI, he agency said.

DOLE said the NAI violated Article 106 of the Labor Code that only allows labor-only contracting when the employer has insufficient capital or investment.

The agency added that the workers are directly involved in NAI’s core business and deserve to become regular workers of the company.

The order also said that the AMPC contracted workers who are assigned at NAI’s quality control and research divisions directly work for the condiment giant’s core business.

“In view of this, DOLE orders the AMPC to desist from its illegal activity and cease going into any more contracting agreement,” the agency said.

NAI manufactures ketchup, sauces and other condiments as well as cooking oil and juices that are dominant in the local market. The multi-billion peso company also exports its popular products abroad.

1.4k more contractuals

While welcome, DOLE’s order must also order the regularization of about 1,400 NAI workers more, KMU said.

The labor federation also said NAI must be punished for violating other provisions of the Labor Code such as the non-payment of the minimum wage and other labor standards as well as occupational health and safety.

“KMU salutes the workers of Nutri-Asia for their militant struggle to become regular workers, just wages, and right to unionize and launch strikes in the face of the brutal attacks by the conniving State and big capital,” the group said.

“The strike goes on! Until all the Nutri-Asia contractual workers are made regulars, until the laid off unionists are back, the strikers will only intensify their struggle,” it added.

KMU said it is calling on all fellow workers and the public to support the strike at Nutri-Asia as well as other labor strikes all over the country. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

KMU urges DOLE to ‘immediately regularize’ workers on contractual list

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) must enforce its regularization orders instead of simply coming out with lists of companies practicing contractualization, militant labor federation Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) challenged the agency.

Reacting to the DOLE revelation that some of the country’s biggest companies are among the top implementors of the illegal contractualization scheme, KMU said the list may only grow longer without foreceful implementation of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order 51 banning labor-only contracting in many industries.

“In the first place, many names on the list came from the workers who filed them with DOLE. What we need to see now are final and executory orders for regularization of contractual workers,” KMU chairperson Elmer Labog said.

‘Contractualization kings’

In a press conference Monday, DOLE revealed a total of 3,377 companies were found to be engaged and suspected to be engaged in labor-only contracting arrangements based on its initial list of non-compliant establishments.

“We are now providing you the top 20 non-complaint companies according to the number of workers that need to be regularized, from a list of 3,377 non-compliant establishments involving 224,852 workers from various parts of the country,” Bello said.

Among the top violators include giant Jollibee Food Corporation with 14,960 affected workers, followed by the Dole Philippines, Inc., with 10,521 affected workers, and the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) with 8,310 affected workers.

DOLE also identified Philsaga Mining Corporation with 6,624 affected workers; General Tuna Corporation with 5,216; Sumi Phils Wiring System Corporation with 4,305; Franklin Baker Inc., with 3,400; Philipinas Kyohritsu with 3,161; Furukawa Automotive System Phil. Inc., with 2,863; and the Magnolia Inc., with 2,248 affected workers.

KCC Property Holdings, Inc., with 1,802 affected workers; Sumifru Philippines , Corp. with 1,687; Hinatuan Mining Corporation with 1,673; KCC Mall De Zamboanga with 1,598; Brother Industries (Philippines) Inc., with1,582; Philippine Airlines and PAL Express with 1,483; Nidec Precision Philippines Corporation with 1,400; Peter Paul Phil. Corporation with 1,362; Dolefil Upper Valley Cooperations with 1,183; and the SOLE-Stanfilco with 1,131 affected workers are also included in the preliminary list DOLE submitted to Malacanan Palace last May 25, 2018.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the list was culled from the result of inspections of 99,526 establishments from June 2016 to April 2018.

DOLE said the list was just an initial report, considering the labor inspections covered only a fraction of more than 900,000 establishments nationwide.

Bello said SM Malls were not included in the list as it has already submitted a voluntarily regularization program, which targets an estimated 10,000 regularized workers by the end of 2018.

DOLE Department Order No. 174 prohibits labor–only contracting, which exist when the contractor merely recruits, supplies or places workers to perform a job for a principal under employment arrangements designed to circumvent the right of workers to security of tenure.

DOLE said a total of 176,286 workers have been regularized as of May 11, 2018 through the intensified labor enforcement system of the labor department.

‘Let it not stay a list’

KMU however said DOLE’s list will only grow longer without a more forceful and sustained implementation of regularization orders.

“In the case of PLDT, there were only about 7,400 contractual workers when KMU and Kilos Na Manggagawa filed a complaint with DOLE earlier. Now, it is saying there are already 8,310 affected workers. If DOLE does not enforce regularization orders, the numbers will only increase,” Labog said.

“Now that they have a list, it should not stay merely as a list. DOLE must immediately issue and enforce regularization orders for these workers,” Labog added.

KMU said that should DOLE’s list does not translate to the regularization of its number of affected workers, it becomes another mere palliative to the lack of a wage increase in the midst of runaway price increases of basic commodities and services due to the Duterte government’s tax measures.

KMU added it supports House Bill 7787 for a national minimum wage law filed by the Makabayan bloc at the House of Representatives Monday. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)