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Official unemployment figures understate historic jobs crisis

by IBON Media & Communications

IBON said that the unemployment crisis is actually even worse than official figures show.

The group estimates that the real unemployment rate is likely around 22% and the real number of unemployed around 14 million.

The 20.4 million real unemployed and underemployed today is the worst crisis of mass unemployment in the country’s history.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported 7.3 million unemployed and 6.4 million underemployed in April 2020.

As it is, this is the worst government-recorded unemployment (7.3 million) and combined unemployment and underemployment (13.7 million) in the country’s history.

IBON pointed out, however, that the technical definition of unemployment does not count as much as 4.1 million Filipinos who did not formally enter the labor force because of the ECQ and another 2.6 million that the revised unemployment definition since April 2005 stopped counting.

The drastic drop in the labor force participation rate (LFPR) to 55.6% is most of all due to the ECQ, said the group.

The jobless Filipinos who did not enter the labor force will not be counted as unemployed because the technical definition of unemployed requires them to be in the labor force to begin with.

If the LFPR had stayed the same at 61.3% in April 2019, there would be an additional 4.1 million in the labor force.

The methodology for counting the unemployed was revised in April 2005. Since then, jobless Filipinos who did not look for work in the last six months or are unable to immediately take up work are no longer considered unemployed and removed from the labor force.

This lowered officially reported unemployed Filipinos and stopped comparability with data from previous years.

The revised unemployment definition tends to underestimate the magnitude of unemployment by 35% and the unemployment rate by 3.3 percentage points.

An initial correction for this would mean an additional 2.6 million jobless Filipinos who should be counted as unemployed according to the previous definition, said the group.

IBON said that it is important to see historical trends in the country’s unemployment situation to get an accurate picture of the long-term implications of economic policies. Having data that is comparable over time will give a much clearer indication of the structural economic changes the economy is undergoing which will enable better policymaking. #

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Kodao publishes IBON reports as part of a content-sharing agreement.

Coronavirus: Philippine labor office in Dubai suspends cash aid

By Angel L. Tesorero/Gulf News

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates: The Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Dubai on Tuesday suspended the application process for the US$200 (Dh730) cash aid to Filipinos whose jobs were affected by the coronavirus.

“The public is hereby informed that pursuant to the directive of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the Philippine Overseas Labor Office Dubai and Northern Emirates will temporarily suspend acceptance of applications for the DOLE one-time financial assistance for displaced OFWs due to COVID-19,” reads a statement sent to Gulf News.

“The link for the submission of applications will no longer accept responses effective 12:01AM, 21 April 2020. We appeal for your full understanding,” added the memorandum.

According to POLO-Dubai the suspension was made “pending evaluation of applications received and subject to availability of funds.”

The DOLE-AKAP (Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong) for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) was announced by Philippine Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on March 25 as a one-time financial assistance by the Philippine government to be given to displaced OFWs – both sea-based and land-based – around the world, due to COVID-19.

Also eligible are OFWs infected by the virus, provided that they have not received any form of financial assistance from their host government or employer.

The cash assistance for OFWs who lost their jobs was earmarked from DOLE-CAMP or DOLE COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program fund amounting to PhP1.5 billion (Dh108.5 million).

Over 25,000 applicants in Dubai

Philippine Labour Attaché Felicitas Bay told Gulf News: “As of 12.01 am, April 21, the total applications we received have reached 25,733. These are all subject to evaluation – whether the request will be approved or denied. We have so far evaluated 4,732 applications.”

Philippine labor secretary Silvestre Bello III. (Photo by R. Villanueva/Kodao)

The first batch of recipients will receive the assistance on Tuesday.

“Around 250 Filipinos will receive the Dh730 (Php10,117.39) cash assistance through a remittance centre today,” Bay said.

Many Filipinos in Dubai, who are still employed but whose income has been adversely affected by COVID-19, meanwhile felt they had been left in the lurch.

Advisory from the Philippine Overseas Labour Office Dubai and Northern Emirates. (Gulf News photo)

Dubai resident Edwin Costales told Gulf News: “What will happen to us who have been placed under a ‘no-work, no pay’ scheme? Are we not going to receive any assistance from our government? I hope they have also considered us.”

Filipino expat Huey Rai Sta Ana, 26, a waiter at a Dubai restaurant, earlier told Gulf News: “Our employer told us to go on unpaid leave but we still have bills to pay. Losing a month’s salary will have a big impact on our wallets – we have not enough savings to pay for our rent and utility bills. Whatever assistance we can get from our government would really be a big help.”

False hope

Gabriela-UAE, a group of Filipino expats in the UAE advocating for workers and women’s rights has condemned DOLE for suspending the applications for financial assistance it promised to OFWs.

In a statement sent to Gulf News on Tuesday, the group said: “DOLE and the Philippine government gave many OFWs hope when they promised the financial assistance. By suspending the acceptance of applications for assistance, they have crushed our hope.”

“The excuse given by the DOLE for the suspension, that the submitted applications and the existing funds will be evaluated, is simply unacceptable. OFWs are running low on food and basic necessities, and the financial assistance is urgently needed now,” the group added.

“In the UAE alone, there is an estimated 650,000 OFWs, most of them are employees who were laid off from work, whose wages have been delayed, whose wages have been cut by 25 to 50 per cent; and who have been put under “no work, no pay” arrangements. With a budget of PhP1.5 billion, it turns out that only 150,000 OFWs or less around the world would be able to avail of the financial assistance,” the group noted.

A Filipino expat shares a picture of the the Dh730 cash aid she received on social media. (Gulf News photo)

“Do top (Philippine) government officials think that OFWs are virus-proof and immune from COVID-19? We reiterate our appeal to the Duterte government for immediate, sufficient and systematic distribution of financial assistance to OFWs,” they added.

Not enough budget

Filipino community leader Jason Roi Bucton, chairman of Kalayaan 2020 Organizing Committee, said: “We have to understand that all budget allocated is for the entire OFW around the globe. The overwhelming numbers of more than 25,000 applicants (in Dubai and Northern Emirates alone) is subject to POLO-OWWA’s evaluation and approval with their limited staffs and funds.”

“We have to accept the fact that this is not enough to cater the number of Filipinos displaced in this pandemic. We hope that our Philippine government will be able to assess further and find means to sustain the Filipinos’ needs. Otherwise, it should be better to just prepare for a massive repatriation globally,” he added.

Bayanihan during hard times
Another OFW advocate, Barney Almazar, director at the corporate-commercial department of Gulf Law, told Gulf News: “Since President Duterte signed the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act last March 24, much has been publicized on the provision of emergency subsidy to OFWs. In the UAE, the allocated fund for OFW, unfortunately, is just not enough to solve the problems of everyone in need.”

“The solution is clearly written in the name of the law itself: Bayanihan, a Filipino virtue of collective heroism for a common cause. The government has kick-started amelioration efforts, and it is now high time for fellow OFWs to help each other,” he explained.

Almazar noted: “We have no control over the funds but we can very much rely on each other. We should not forget that Filipinos are creative, resourceful and ingenious. We may lack funds but certainly we do not have a shortage of talented Filipino professionals in the emirates.

“There should be a close coordination with volunteer groups. For example, those who do not qualify for the financial assistance from the government should be endorsed to Filipino volunteer groups instead of being refused outright. With this, we eliminate duplication of efforts and ensure scarce resources are allocated efficiently especially for the sick, children and other vulnerable groups,” he added.

Almazar reiterated: “We can improve, because we are more than this (COVID-19). What the government cannot provide, we OFWs ca fill up by volunteering our services, by being vigilant that no resource is wasted. It is crucial to evaluate needs, assess available resources and set priorities to protect the lives of our people, while maintaining their dignity, mental and social well-being.”

“We also want to see the preparedness and advanced capabilities of government staff assigned to assist the OFWs. Planning and managing the response is as important, if not, more important than the funds,” he concluded.

IN NUMBERS

-PhP1.5 billion (Dh108.5 million) – allocated to overseas Filipino workers displaced by COVID-19 worldwide
-US$200 (Dh730) – financial assistance promised to Filipino workers who lost job due to coronavirus pandemic
-25,733 – Filipinos in Dubai appplied for cash aid
-250 Filipinos to receive the Dh730 from POLO-Dubai on Tuesday

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This report was first published by Gulf News.

415 Filipino sailors stranded in UAE flown home

Sailors had been stranded for six weeks aboard three vessels.

By Angel L. Tesorero

Dubai: A total of 415 Filipino seafarers stranded in the UAE for six weeks returned home to the Philippines on two chartered flights on Saturday and Sunday.

The first batch of 207 Filipino crew members were repatriated to the Philippines on Saturday and have already arrived in Manila. Another batch of 208 Filipino seafarers on Sunday boarded a special Emirates flight, EK334, bound to Manila, expected to arrive at 9.05pm (Philippine time or 1.05am Monday, UAE time.)

The stranded Filipino crew members, who are not UAE residents, worked on international vessels MV Norwegian Jade, SS Nautica, and SS Voyager which are still docked at Port Zayed in Abu Dhabi and Port Rashid in Dubai, Philippine Consul-General Paul Raymund Cortes told Gulf News.

415 Filipino seafarers depart from Dubai terminal 3 (Image Credit: Supplied)

The repatriation was coordinated with UAE authorities who allowed them to disembark and take a chartered flight arranged by their employers through local manning agencies.

“All expenses were shouldered by the Norwegian Cruise Lines Holdings, Ltd, which owns and operates MV Norwegian Jade, SS Nautica, and SS Voyager,” said Cortes, adding: “The seafarers are still employed and also part of the DOLE-AKAP Program.”

415 Filipino seafarers depart from Dubai terminal 3 (Image Credit: Supplied)

DOLE-AKAP (Department of Labor and Employment-Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong) Program is a one-time financial assistance amounting to US $200 (Dh730), given by the Philippine government to overseas workers, both land-based and sea-based, who have been displaced by a lockdown in a foreign country, according to Philippine Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello.

Philippine Ambassador to the UAE Hjayceelyn M. Quintana oversaw the repatriation of the Filipino crew members who have been stranded for six (6) weeks at Port Zayed in Abu Dhabi and Port Rashid in Dubai.

The sailors had been stranded in the UAE for six weeks aboard three vessels. (Image Credit: Supplied)

In a Facebook post by the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi, Quintana “thanked the UAE authorities for assisting the Embassy in ensuring that these Filipino seafarers arrive home safely by allowing two special flights to leave for Manila despite flight suspension still being in effect.”

The Embassy added the Philippine Department of Health Bureau of Quarantine will ensure that upon arrival, “the seafarers will undergo proper screening procedures. Representatives from Depart of Foreign Affair’s Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (OUMWA) and counterparts from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), will meet them upon their arrival in Manila.” #

This report was originally published in Gulf News.

Coronavirus effect: Hundreds of Filipinos in the UAE want to go back home

By Angel L. Tesorero

Dubai: A few hundred Filipino expats are seeking to be repatriated soon, a source within the Filipino diplomatic community said Saturday, March 11.

Flights to Manila from this city, however, are still suspended, following the Philippine government’s directive on extending the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Luzon.

Philippine Airlines (PAL) and budget airline, Cebu Pacific – have also extended the suspension of all flight operations between Dubai and Manila until April 30.

Moreover, the decision to suspend passenger and transit flights to and from the UAE – as a preventive measure to curb the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) – is still in effect.

Meanwhile, around 200 seafarers have been repatriated to the Philippines on Saturday.

The repatriation of the stranded Filipino crew members, who are not UAE residents, was coordinated with UAE authorities who allowed them to disembark and take a chartered flight arranged by their employers through local manning agencies.

In an earlier Gulf News report, Marford Angeles, Consul-General and Deputy Head of Mission at the Philippine Embassy, said they have been working on the repatriation of Filipino crew members stranded in various ports in the UAE.

The Filipino diplomat also clarified, as per POLO-OWWA (Philippine Overseas Labor Office – Overseas Workers Welfare Administration), “employers are responsible for their employees’ repatriation, based on their contract.”

Angeles added the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi has been closely coordinating with the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs on cases of stranded Filipino nationals. “These cases are subject to compliance with both Philippine and UAE laws and regulations, including a mandatory 14-day quarantine period upon arrival in the Philippines being coordinated with the Philippine Department of Health and OWWA,” he earlier told Gulf News.

Angeles also clarified the Embassy’s programme of repatriating those with visa problems and immigration offences and victims illegal recruitment is still on hold due to the suspension of exit pass processing and suspension of UAE flights.

“This programme is also subject to availability of funds. Those who need help with their exit pass processing may call +971508584968 or +971508963089, or email atn.abudhabi@gmail.com for proper advice,” he added. #

(This article originally appeared on Gulf News.)

Coronavirus: Filipinos await aid from home country

Manila has promised Dh730 cash aid to Filipinos who have lost jobs.

By Angel L. Tesorero/Gulf News

Dubai: Filipinos in the UAE, who have lost their jobs or have been asked to go on unpaid leave, are asking their home country for cash aid after the Philippine Government last month promised a one-time financial assistance to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) whose jobs were affected due to coronavirus (COVID-19)

Several Filipino expats told Gulf News they have been waiting for the US$200 (Dh730) financial assistance announced on March 25 by Philippine Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello III. They said the announcement was a welcome news.

Philippine labor secretary Silvestre H. Bello III (Photo by Raymund B. Villanueva/Kodao

Filipino expat Huey Rai Sta Ana, 26, a waiter at a Dubai restaurant, said: “Our employer told us to go on unpaid leave but we still have bills to pay. Losing a month’s salary will have a big impact on our wallets – we have not enough savings to pay for our rent and utility bills. Whatever assistance we can get from our government would really be a big help.”

Huey Rai Sta Ana

Another Dubai resident, Shiera lyza Fernando, 21, who is a service crew, added: “The Philippine Government, through POLO-OWWA (Philippine Labour Office- Overseas Workers Welfare Administration), has the means to help us, OFWs.”

Shiera lyza FernandoImage Credit: Supplied

Ana Marasigan, an office administration staff, echoed the same sentiments. She said: “The financial assistance must be provided to our distressed OFWs who are currently affected by the coronavirus pandemic. We appeal to the Philippine government to fulfill its promise urgently.”

Filipino expat, John Raymart, 25, said he has to rely on friends for some of his basic needs. “We have been working on a tight budget since last month after we were placed under leave. The solution that me and my friends have come up with is to pool our money and buy food for everyone. But our fund is now running low.”

John RaymartImage Credit: Supplied

‘Let us be patient’

Meanwhile, Joan Vargas, 33, a restaurant manager and Filipino community leader, advised her kababayans (countrymen) to be patient. “I think the (Philippine) government is doing its job. I’m sure the money will come.”

Joan VargasImage Credit: Supplied

“But I hope there will be no difficult requirements needed – just passport and Emirates ID would be enough when we collect the money,” added Vargas, who said 19 of them were asked to go on unpaid leave since March 23.

Josephine Sanchez, 46, sales staff at a freight forwarding company, said majority of OFWs are family breadwinners. If they lost their jobs or experience pay cuts, their respective families will also suffer.

Josephine SanchezImage Credit: Supplied

“We have our own expenses and we also need to buy our own food. If we lost our jobs, how then can we provide for our family back home? We really hope our government will take care of us in times of need,” Sanchez said.

No comprehensive plan

In a statement sent to Gulf News, the chairperson of Migrante International, a migrants rights group based in Manila, said the delay in cash assistance “revealed the lack of comprehensive plan by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in addressing the immediate and long-term effects of the crisis on OFWs.”

Migrante chairperson Joanna Concepcion said: “Up to now, the government has not provided any guidelines to disburse the funds they promised to distressed OFWs who were expecting the assistance since last month.”

The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and the various Philippine Overseas Labour Offices (POLOs) will start processing the release of financial aid for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who lost their jobs due to COVID-19 pandemic, the Philippine Department of Labour and Employment (DOLE) said in a statement sent to Gulf News on Thursday.

Overseas workers, both land-based and sea-based, who have been displaced by a lockdown in a foreign country will be given a one-time financial assistance amounting to US $ 200 (Dh730), under DOLE’s AKAP programme for OFWs.

Also eligible are OFWs infected by the virus provided that they have not received any form of financial assistance from their host government or employer.

DOLE-AKAP will cover regular/documented OFWs as defined in the 2016 Revised Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Rules and Regulations.

“Regular or documented OFWs are those who possess a valid passport and appropriate visa or permit to stay and work in the receiving country; and whose contract of employment has been processed by the POEA or the POLO,” Philippine Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello III said.

The assistance programme, Bello added, “also covers qualified undocumented OFWs or those who were originally regular or documented workers, but for some reason or cause have thereafter lost their regular or documented status”.

Bello said the assistance is part of DOLE’s COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Programme (DOLE-CAMP) that the department had initiated to extend financial support for Filipino workers displaced by the pandemic.

Bello underlined: “The coverage is generous since it will cover not only documented workers but also undocumented ones as long as they have “undertaken” actions toward regularisation or they are active members of OWWA.

Bello said OWWA and the POLOs will now start the processing and evaluation of the qualified DOLE-AKAP recipients, especially in countries heavily affected by the pandemic.

Requirements and guidelines:

According to DOLE, OFWs must submit the following documents to their respective POLO:

a. Accomplished application form for the special cash assistance which is downloadable at their respective POLO website or social media account;

b. Photocopy of their passport and/or travel documents;

c. Proof of overseas employment, such as a valid OEC, residence ID, visa, reentry-visa etc.

d. Proof of loss of employment on account of the COVID-19 disease; and

e. Proof of a pending case that have caused their current “undocumented status, such as case reference number, case endorsement stamped by the POLO, etc.

Those who are already in the Philippines or repatriated OFWS will be covered by Balik Manggagawa. They must submit the following documents to their respective regional or local OWWA offices:

a. Accomplished application form for special cash assistance downloadable at www.dole-akap.owwa.gov.ph website;

b. Copy of passport or travel documents;

c. Proof of overseas employment, sch as valid OEC, residence ID, visa/re-entry visa, etc. and

d. Proof of loss of employment due to the COVID-19 disease.

For further details, please check http://www.polodubaiportal.org #

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This article originally appeared on Gulf News.

KMU: Police in industrial zones violate labor rights

Labor federation Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) condemned the creation of police offices in Central Luzon industrial zones, saying the move violates the Constitutionally-guaranteed right to form and join organizations.

The KMU blasted Philippine National Police (PNP) in Region III and the Rodrigo Duterte government’s National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) as the agencies announced the creation of the Joint Industrial Peace and Concern Office (JIPCO) to prevent militant labor groups from organizing unions in the region.

“The creation of the JIPCO is a direct attack on workers’ basic right to form unions –our legitimate means to collectively fight for our basic interests and welfare as workers. The JIPCO is meant to stifle not the so-called ‘radical labor infiltration’ but the workers’ very right to exercise self-organization and union work,” KMU Chairperson Elmer “Ka Bong” Labog said.

PNP Central Luzon director Police General Rhodel Sermonia last Wednesday, January 22, led JIPCO’s launch at the Clark Freeport Zone in Zambales Province “to act as the first line of defense from radical labor infiltration of the labor force and the industrial zones in support of ELCAC (End Local Communist Armed Conflict).”

With Sermonia as guests of honor and speakers were presidential adviser on the peace process Secretary Carlito Galvez, newly installed Philippine National Police (PNP) Direcor General Archie Francisco Gamboa, and Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) Director Charito Plaza. 

The KMU however said there can be no peace anywhere in the Philippines if the PNP, known for criminal and deadly practices such as “ninja cops” and “Oplan Tokhang”, are tasked to prevent unionism in factories and workplaces.

The group also noted that both the PNP and Philippine Army have repeatedly accused militant labor unions of being supporters of the underground communist movement in the Philippines. The creation of a JIPCO is precisely aimed to prevent organizing of unions which will affect the entire labor sector, it added.

“The [NTF-ELCAC] has been weaponized to the extent of violating fundamental rights of workers to form unions, which are clearly provided in the Bill of Rights of the Philippine Constitution, as well as International Conventions. The JIPCO in effect bans the existence of any union and all unions in Central Luzon,” said KMU’s Labog.

The militant labor group charged that the JIPCO is a project of the National Task Force- End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), which was created through Executive Order No. 70.

“That the JIPCO is a mechanism to defend industrial zones from radical labor in support of the ELCAC is all rhetoric for crushing legitimate people’s organizations carrying legitimate demands, such as unions calling for higher wages, regular work and implementation of labor standards, especially in Economic Zones which are not regulated by the Labor Department,” Labog said.

The labor leader also added that “only the few big capitalists stand to benefit from the eradication of unions in the economic zones.”

The KMU Chairman asked workers and the people to launch actions and engage all institutions to stop JIPCO even as it looks for possible legal actions against the PNP and PEZA. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Regent Foods planning ‘run-away shop’ tactic after Mayor Vico warning, workers say

Regent Foods Corporation (RFC) management is set to implement a “run-away shop” tactic with its threat to transfer out of Pasig City, the snack manufacturer’s striking workers said.

“The Regent management just proved what we have been pointing out since we started our strike and mounted our picketlines last October 16 — that the RFC management will implement a runaway shop and lockout of its plant in Pasig City to get rid of the issues we are raising,” Regent Food Workers Union (RFWU) president Tita Cudiamat said.

Cudiamat was reacting to RFC’s statement that it is now mulls transferring its business out of Pasig City after Mayor Vico Sotto advised the company to rethink its position of filing charges against its striking workers.

“If you want to have a healthy relationship with our city, I highly suggest you rethink your position,” Sotto warned.

“Moving forward, RFC may simply accept its fate that the Pasig City Administration will unjustly make life hard for it and its 400-strong workforce, and contemplate simply bringing its business elsewhere,” the company said in a statement.

Cudiamat however said that RFC’s reaction to Sotto’s warning proves the company’s “illegal” plans.

Labor group Defend Jobs Philippines echoed the strikers’ accusations that RFC implemented a “long  list of unfair labor practices against their workers.”

“For the longest time, striking workers have been airing out and complaining about the management’s attempt of runaway shop, lockout, union busting, unfair labor practices, contractualization, low wages, unpaid benefits, and violations of the workers right to union and strike,” Defend Job Philippines spokesperson Christian Lloyd Magsoy said in a statement.

Magsoy defended Sotto who also raised funds to allow some of those arrested, including a bystander, to post bail last Monday.

“No amount of defensive statements and baseless attacks against Mayor Vico can justify the long-drawn hardships of Regent workers for almost three decades of existence of this company,” Magsoy said.

Both RFWU and Defend Jobs Philippines warned the RFC management to brace itself for countercharges they plan to file in several legal venues the company’s “unfair labor practices, abusive acts…and the violent dispersal” last November 9 that also injured several workers.

“Instead of lying and spreading fake news and charges, the RFC management must focus in addressing our legitimate concerns. If they will remain firm in fabricating lies and stories, then we have no resort but to fight back in whatever legal and just means possible,” Cudiamat said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Regent Foods products

Stop suppressing workers, Vico tells Regent Foods

Pasig City mayor Vico Sotto vowed to defend the 23 arrested workers of Regent Foods Corporation after company owners decided to go ahead with its charges of physical injuries against the strikers.

In a Facebook post, Sotto said he will do everything within his power to help the arrested workers regain and maintain their liberty.

“Yesterday (Saturday) afternoon, I talked to the 11 still inside and assured them that I will personally make sure that they are out on bail by Monday,” Sotto posted.

The mayor said 12 of those arrested have already posted bail, including the tricycle driver who was arrested with the workers.

Sotto said Regent owners, couple Irwin and Susan See, refused his request to drop charges against the workers, prompting him to “speak out in public.”

“I asked Regent to withdraw the charges against the 23. Mr. Irwin See and Ms. Susan See separately asked me to give them some time to ask their board,” he revealed.

The Sees reportedly told Sotto that the company board would talk about his request and that he will be informed once a decision is reached.

Upon multiple follow-ups by his office however, the company’s lawyers informed the mayor they would not withdraw the charges, saying they will “just trust the judicial process.”

The mayor slammed the company’s decision.

“[That] is of course easy to say as multimillionaires who will eat (three times) a day no matter what happens here; while the people they have sued have recently lost their main source of income and are now even torn away from their families,” the mayor fumed.

Injured Regent Foods workers after violent dispersal by company guards last November 9.

The 23 workers were arrested after a violent dispersal by the security guards last November 9, injuring several of the workers.

The workers launched their strike last October 16 demanding regular employment for long-time employees and salary increases.

They also complained of non-implementation of the collective bargaining agreement, non-recognition of the new leadership within the union and physical and verbal abuses by management.

The workers immediately sought Sotto’s mediation and help in keeping their strike peaceful and safe but the mayor initially clarified he cannot interfere with the labor issues as those fall under the jurisdiction of the labor department.

“However, when my constituents are being deprived of liberty as they fight for their rights as workers, I cannot sit around and do nothing,” Sotto said Sunday.

He further revealed that Regent management hired outside private security to disperse their employees on strike last November 9 that turned violent.

“The situation was naturally tense and violence broke out. I have seen videos of the workers being kicked by the private security as they lay on the ground,” the mayor said.

The tricycle driver who was arrested with the workers and two of their supporters was an innocent bystander “who just went down to see what was going on,” the mayor said.

Sotto said he condemns the company and its owners’ “misuse” of “[their] privileged position to suppress the rights of [their] protesting workers.”

 “These people are not criminals; they do not have the goal of hurting you. They are fighting for what they believe to be just. You can continue with the labor dispute without sending the poor and powerless to jail!” Sotto said.

“If you want to have a healthy relationship with our city, I highly suggest you rethink your position,” Sotto warned.

Image from Regents Foods website.

Regent Foods Corporation manufactures Cheese Ring, Cheese Ball, Snacku, Sweet Corn, Tempura, Labzter, Jelly Candy, Fiesta Cakes, Mixed Cakes, Assorted Cakes, Ube Cake, Pandan Cake, Melon Cake, Strawberry Cake, Mocca Cake, Custard Cake, Lemon Cake, Cheese Cake and Belgian Waffle. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Labor Rights Defender Network inilunsad

Inilunsad kamakailan ang isang network para matulungan ang mga manggagawa sa pagtatanggol sa kanilang karapatan at seguridad. Nagtipon ang mga abugado, propesor, taong simbahan, labor rights advocatea at iba pa para buuin ang Labor Rights Defender Network (LaRD).

Ayon sa LaRD, sa kasalukuyang administrasyon ni Pangulong Duterte, lalong tumindi ang paglabag sa karapatang pantao ng mga manggagawa. Kabilang na dito ang pagpaslang sa 43 lider manggagawa at labor rights advocates, pambubuwag sa mga unyon at welga, red-tagging at ilegal na pag-aresto sa mga union organizer.

Iniulat din ng LaRD na kabilang ang Pilipinas sa mga bansang may lumalalang rekord kaugnay sa paglabag sa karapatan sa trabaho at mag-unyon. Kahanay na nito ang ilang mga bansa sa Africa at Asia-Pacific.

Layunin din ng LaRD na tipunin ang pinakamalaking network ng iba’t-ibang grupo para itaguyod ang maayos na sahod at dignidad sa paggawa ng mga manggagawa. (Music: News background Bidyo ni: Joseph Cuevas/ Kodao)

Welga inilunsad ng mga manggagawa ng Super 8

Inilunsad ng mga manggagawa ng Super 8 Warehouse ang kanilang welga sa Axis Road, Brgy. Kalawaan sa Pasig City noong Agosto 6 laban sa malawakang tanggalan sa kanilang kumpanya.

Itinayo nila ang welga dakong 7:00 ng umaga at lumahok ang 88 manggagawa.

Mariin nilang binatikos ang management na Matapat Service Cooperative na siyang pwersahang nagtanggal sa mga manggagawa.

Bukod dito, tinututulan din nila ang mahigpit na pamamalakad ng Agency, panggigipit at pangwawasak ng unyon.

Nagtungo sila sa Pasig City Hall kung saan kinausap sila ng bagong mayor ng syudad na si Vico Sotto.

Hiling nila na maibalik sila sa trabaho, maibigay ang kanilang mga naudlot na benepisyo at kilalanin ang bagong tayong unyon. Nasa 200 kontraktwal na mga manggagawa ang nasa Super 8 Warehouse sa Pasig.

Ito ay pagmamay-ari ni Alvin Lim, founder at CEO ng Super 8 Retail System at sister company din ng Suy Sing Commercial Corporation. (Music: News background Bidyo ni: Joseph Cuevas/ Kodao)