TAMBAYAN Episode 2: Kumusta na ang Wyeth Workers?

Sa ikalawang episode ng Tambayan, pinuntahan natin ang mga manggagawa ng Wyeth na kamakailan ay kumaharap sa biglang tanggalan. Para sa mga manggagawa, naging matagumpay pa rin ang paggiit nila sa kanilang karapatan. Kumusta na nga ba sila?

    PNP arrests another trade unionist in Quezon City

    By Joseph Cuevas

    Progressive organizations condemned the arrest of another labor union organizer and called for his immediate release.

    Benjamin ‘Banjo’ Cordero, chairperson of Sandigan ng mga Manggagawa sa Quezon City, was arrested by non-uniformed police officers at around 11:40 pm Tuesday night, October 25.

    A warrant of arrest for frustrated homicide was issued by San Mateo (Rizal) Regional Trial Branch 77 on October 24 was issued to Cordero and four others.

    The labor organizer said the four other respondents are unknown to him.

    Cordero was brought to Batasan Police Station 6 and temporarily detained as of this writing.

    In a Facebook Live post from Tudla Productions, Cordero said that his arrest is part of the government’s attacks to silence union organizers and activists.

    Cordero’s lawyer Louie Santos said his client did not receive a copy of the complaint for him to reply.

    The Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) condemned Cordero’s arrest coming as it did mere weeks after fellow labor organizers Kara Taggaoa of KMU International and PISTON leader Larry Balbuena were arrested and detained on charges of direct assault.

    “The State has long utilized this scheme, arbitrarily filing trumped-up charges against activists then illegally arresting and detaining them,” KMU said.

    The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) also called for the dropping of the charge against Cordero and asked help to raise funds for his bail amounting to P72,000.

    Cordero is the Campaign Officer of the Urban Poor Coordinating Council in NCR and the Labor Sector Representative of the Quezon City Development Council.

    He is also a former Makabayan-Quezon City coordinator and student activist from Polytechnic University of the Philippines where he served as college student council chairperson in early 2000s. #

    Workers complain of ‘slave-like’ labor in Isabela’s sugar cane fields

    It is not only in the sugar cane fields of Negros and Panay islands that slave-like labor exists, a farmers’ group revealed.

    The Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) said it exists as well in two of Northern Philippines’ biggest provinces: Isabela and Cagayan.

    Hundreds of UMA-Sta. Maria (Isabela) members filed a complaint before the Isabela Provincial Council protesting “slave-like” wages and working conditions in local sugar-cane plantations.

    In a statement, the group also condemned lack of benefits and mass lay-offs after several sugar-cane plantations entered into a bio-ethanol production contract with Green Future Innovations-Ecofuel Land Development, Inc. (GFII-Ecofuel) based in San Mariano, Isabela.

    The farm workers are employed by sugar-cane plantations located in Sta. Maria and neighboring Sto. Tomas towns in the said province as well as in some municipalities in southern Cagayan province.

    UMA said its sugar cane farm workers only receive daily wages of P16-50 for weeding, P40-70 for planting, P150 for fertilizing, P94 for taking care of sugar cane plants and P225-250 for harvesting.

    Other kinds of work receive equally meager pay, it added.

    More or less 1,695 hectares of sugar cane plantations have entered into the contract with GFII-Ecofuel, UMA said.

    Sta. Maria Mayor Hilario Pagauitan owns majority of the plantations in the agreement with 685 hectares, the group said.

    UMA said its members previously received P200 daily for various kinds of work in Pagauitan’s sugar cane fields.

    The group said the mayor promised to increase his workers’ wages after the 2019 local elections.

    The farm workers’ wages have drastically dropped after the elections however as Pagauitan entered into an agreement with the bio-ethanol company, the group said.

    “When the contract with GFII-Ecofuel started, 287 workers immediately lost their jobs while the few who were retained are being forced to work in far places,” UMA said in Filipino.

    Who is Pagauitan?

    Mayor Pagauitan is a currently in his second term as Sta. Maria mayor.

    Locally famous for his rags-to-riches story, the local executive earned his fortune as a mining engineer in Indonesia before owning his own mines in Mindanao.

    Pagauitan and wife Sophia control East Coast Mineral Resources Co. with rights to a mining prospect in northeast Mindanao.

    The mayor is also reported to be very close to entering into a shares-for-asset swap deal with 78 percent of Vulcan Industrial and Mining Corp. owned by the Ramoses of the National Bookstore fame.

    He is believed to be worth billions of pesos.

    He also owns several other properties, including the famous Agripino Resort. He also owns a helicopter he uses to commute between his hometown and other parts of the country.

    Despite his incredible wealth, however, UMA said farm hands in Isabela, including Pagauitan’s, receive the lowest wages among sugar cane hands in the country.

    The local executive has yet to respond to Kodao’s request for comment.

    Below minimum wage

    It in last wage order issued on February 4, 2020, the Cagayan Valley Regional Tripartite Wage and Productivity Board mandated a minimum daily wage of P345.

    Section 2 of Wage Order No. RTWPB-02-20 also mandated that the minimum wage should be paid to all workers regardless of their position, designation or employment status.

    Section 5 of the order as well said that workers should be paid the minimum wage for eight hours of work or P43.125 per hour for less than eight hours of work per day.

    UMA said work in sugar cane fields is very difficult, forcing workers to spend very little time with their families.

    “If the workers suffer accidents out in the fields, they receive no medical help. They have no pay slips, sick leave, vacation leave, overtime pay, maternity benefits, death benefits, holiday pay, 13th month pay, SSS benefits and Philhealth,” UMA said.

    The workers are not also given personal protective equipment such as boots, gloves, and others, the group added.

    “Because of their starvation wages, the workers are hard up in feeding their families and sending their children to school, neglected their health and live abjectly. Their conditions are only made worse by the coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing quarantines,” UMA said.

    Isabela and Cagayan are currently among the pandemic hotspots in the country.

    UMA said it hopes its litany of complaints will be given due attention in their dialogue with the provincial council today. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

    ‘Malaking bagay ang suporta ng 33 Kongresista para sa P10K na ayuda’

    “Malaking bagay ang suporta ng 33 na Kongresista para sa P10K na ayuda. Ito ay isusulong natin nang tuloy-tuloy para mapakinggan pa sa Kongreso. Kailangang ulit-ulitin ang panawagan na P10K ayuda para sa lahat, lalo na sa mga na-dislocate na mga manggagawa at OFW sa panahon ng pandemya.”Inday Bagasbas, Tagapagsalita, Ayuda Network

    ‘Secretary Lopez is acting like Pontious Pilate’

    “Secretary Lopez is acting like Pontious Pilate, refusing government’s responsibility in ensuring safe mass transportation to hundreds of thousands of workers going to work under MECQ. Naghuhugas-kamay siya sa pananagutan ng gobyerno sa mga manggagawa.”

     Elmer “Bong” Labog

     Chairperson, Kilusang Mayo Uno

    Carlo Francisco

    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)

    Ang Debate ng mga Pilosopo at si Pedro

    Ni Ed M. Villegas

    Sabi ni pilosopong Plato ang mundo ay di totoo
    Balik naman ng kanyang estudyante na si Aristoteles ito ay mali
    Dahil ang halaman ay tunay na halaman at ang bato ay bato
    Oo nga, wika ni Epicurus, na kay Aristoteles kumampi
    At diin pa nito walang ibang realidad kundi materyal na bagay
    Pasok naman ni Descartes, ang batayan ng totoo ay kamalayan ko
    At ang Diyos at materyal na bagay ay mapapatunayan nito
    Hoy, hoy, teka, teka, singit ni Spinoza,ako at Diyos ay iisa
    At dagdag pa ni Leibniz ang lahat na nangyayari ay perpekto
    Biglang nagsalita si Bertrand Russell, kayong lahat ay sira ang ulo
    Walang diyos, walang perpekto, at ang lahat ay nararanasan lamang ng sensa ng tao
    Mali, sabi ni Wittgenstein, dating estudyante at alagad ni Bertrand,
    Dahil ang diyos at pagiging perpekto ay may sariling kahulugahan sa mga karaniwang mamamayan
    At huwag basta na lang babaliwalain ang kanilang mga katuwiran
    Kaya, pasok ni Derida, walang makakaalam kung mayroon bang katotohanan.

    Ano ba ito, sabi ni Pedro, na nakikinig sa mga pilosopo
    Lalo pa ako sa kanilang sinasabi ay nalilito
    Makauwi na nga sa aking pamilya at makapagpahinga
    Dahil bukas dadalo pa ako sa isang malaking welga.

    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)

    Job creation volatile, mostly of poor quality work

    by IBON Media

    Research group IBON said that the recently reported job generation is mostly in poor quality work and confirms volatile labor market conditions rather than a strengthening economy.

    The group made the statement after the recent release of seemingly favorable employment figures and warned against complacency.

    The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported an increase in the number of employed by 2.3 million and an increase in the number of unemployed by 103,000 in July 2019 from the previous year.

    The employment and unemployment rates stayed the same as last year at 94.6% and 5.4%, respectively.

    IBON however said that the extreme volatility in the labor market since 2016, for instance, should temper overenthusiasm that the economy and the labor force situation is improving.

    Millions of Filipinos are making do with poor quality work and hundreds of thousands more are in and out of work.

    The group recalled that the reported 2.3 million additional employment in 2016 reversed to 664,000 net job losses in 2017.

    In 2018, 2.4 million new jobs were reported generated in the January labor force survey round, measured year on year, but this reversed to 218,000 net job losses in the October round.

    The situation remains as volatile so far this year, ranging from 387,000 net job losses in January 2019 to the recently reported 2.3 million job creation in July 2019.

    This volatility indicates Filipinos struggling to find work where they can on a day-to-day basis rather than a strengthening economy creating steady jobs paying decent incomes, IBON stressed.

    Looking at employed persons in terms of hours worked, 2.2 million or an overwhelming part of the net 2.3 million additional employed in July 2019 was actually just in part-time work of less than 40 hours.

    This caused the share of part-time work in employment to markedly rise from 28.2% to 31.8 percent.

    Looking at employed persons by class of worker, IBON pointed out that the biggest employment increases were actually in low-earning, insecure, and informal work, as well as in unpaid family work.

    The number of self-employed without paid employees grew by 1.1 million and the number of unpaid family workers grew by 854,000.

    Finally, IBON said that looking at the three biggest job-creating sectors also does not give confidence.

    The sectors creating the most jobs included wholesale and retail trade which grew by 820,000, and accommodation and food service by 292,000.

    These subsectors are notorious for high informality and uncertainty, the group said.

    IBON noted the 716,000 increase in agricultural employment but pointed out that this is likely only momentary because agricultural employment is in long-term decline especially from lack of government support for the sector.

    IBON also commented on the underemployment rate falling significantly from 17.2% in July 2018 to 13.9% in July 2019.

    This is equivalent to the 7 million underemployed last year falling to just 6 million this year.

    The group said that while falling underemployment is commonly used as a proxy for improving quality of work, the latter is not necessarily what is happening.

    Underemployment refers to employed persons wanting additional hours of work in their present job, an additional job, or a new job with longer working hours.

    IBON explained that the large drop in the underemployed is possibly only because workers are already working such long hours that they do not want additional hours in their present job, cannot take on an additional job, or cannot imagine a new job with even longer hours.

    The breakdown of reported underemployed persons is not inconsistent with this, the group said.

    The number of those working 40 hours and over in a week, or the invisibly underemployed, fell by a huge 1.5 million from 3.7 million in July 2018 to 2.2 million in July 2019.

    Those who worked less than 40 hours, or the, visibly underemployed, meanwhile, increased by 352,000, hence the net decrease of some 1.1 million total underemployed.

    IBON said that while more employment is always desirable, government should ensure that jobs are decent and sustainable.

    But as long as government neglects the development of domestic agriculture and industries to generate stable and quality work, the jobs crisis will continue to worsen, and Filipinos will keep grappling with poor job prospects. #