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‘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. #

Striking workers are parents too

By Sanafe E. Marcelo

Photo by Sanafe Marcelo/Kodao

“I will do everything to send my children to school. I do not want them to experience this kind of difficult work,” said Marifor Busadre, 32, a mother of four and a contractual worker of Peerless Manufacturing Company (Pepmaco) for three years running.

Mariflor endures all kinds of pain at work, such as skin rashes because of direct contact with strong chemicals used for the manufacture of Pepmaco’s detergent products such as Champion. As a packer, she received P375 per day including overtime work. Her wage, way below the mandated minimum, is not enough to feed her family and it is a daily struggle to keep aside money for their other expenses such as her children’s school supplies. Her eldest is in high school.

Being a contractual worker worries her no end. “I joined this strike to fight for our rights. I am getting old. I hope that the management will grant our demand to make us regular workers and allow us back to work,” she said.

Marifor and dozens of other Pepmaco Workers Union members launched their strike last June 24. Aside from poor pay and being kept as contractual workers, they also complain of dire working conditions.

Photo by Sanafe Marcelo/Kodao

Like Marifor, Christine Sudoy, 22, is a three-year contractual worker, a mother and her family’s breadwinner. “I am worried that I can’t support the financial needs of my family. I am also worried for our health safety and work security,” Christine said, explaining why she too joined the strike. Christine said they often feel they were not being treated as humans, but as work animals and machines.

The company, she said, ordered them not to use gloves in handling the chemicals “because the products may be affected.” There were also no face masks provided, the management saying these cost too much at around P1,000 per piece. They work 12-hour shifts and days-off are prohibited. Women in the packing section carry around 11,000 kilos a day and only receive P610 a day, including overtime work. 

Aside from Champion detergent, Pepmaco also manufactures Systema toothpaste, Calla fabric conditioner, and Hana shampoo and hair conditioner.

Even if they do not succeed with their strike, Christine hopes things would be better for future Pepmaco workers. “I hope they do not experience the violations we suffered,” she said.

In the early hours of June 28, just four days into their strike, “goons wearing face masks and in full battle gear” arrived on board two vans and container vans and swooped down on the strikers’ camps while most of them were resting or sleeping. Eleven of the strikers were injured in the attack.

Photo by Sanafe Marcelo/Kodao

Romeo Aldamar, 33, nearly two years on the job as a contractual worker, was badly wounded when their picket line was attacked by company guards. “I was hit on the head, my skull and nose had bone fractures. The goons kept on spraying jets of water at me even if they could clearly see I was already bloodied,” he said.

Romeo’s wife, though still supportive of the workers’ strike, asked him to stop. But Romeo said he explained to her that he could not. “I will still stand together with the union to fight for our rights. I do this for our children,” he said.

Romeo dreams of sending his children to school and for them to finish college degrees. He said it is difficult for high school graduates like himself to find jobs. “I will endure anything for them. I wish they would never experience working in a factory like Pepmaco,” he said. #

Striking Pepmaco workers. (Photo by Sanafe Marcelo/Kodao)

Si Ate Melod at ang patuloy na pakikibaka ng SUMIFRU workers

Si Ate Melody “Melod” Gumanoy, 43 taong gulang, ay isa sa mahigit 300 manggagawa ng Sumifru, isang Japanese company sa Mindanao na nag-eexport ng mga prutas. Nagtungo sa Maynila ang mga nagwewelgang manggagawa ng Sumifru upang ipanawagan ang pagpapatigil ng kontraktwalisasyon ng kumpanya.

Mahigit 23 taon nang manggagawa si Melod sa Sumifru. Siya rin ang secretary ng Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Suyapa Farm (NAMASUFA-NAFLU-KMU). Nagsimulang magwelga ang mga manggagawa sa iba’t ibang planta ng Sumifru noong Oktubre 1, 2018, dahil ito sa pagmamatigas ng management ng kanilang kumpanya na gawin silang regular.

Sa kawalang suporta ng LGU sa kanilang lugar sa Compostela, Compostela Valley at patuloy na pandarahas sa kanila sa ilalim ng batas militar sa Mindanao, sa Maynila na nila ipinagpapatuloy ang kanilang laban. Isa lamang si Ate Melod sa marami pang kababaihang manggagawa na biktima ng hindi patas ang pagtrato, walang sapat na sahod at hanggang ngayon ay kontrakwal pa rin.

Patuloy na ipinaglalaban ng mga manggagawa ng Sumifru ang kanilang karapatan sa sapat na sahod, regularisasyon at pagkakaroon ng sapat at tamang benipisyo para sa mga kababaihan at matatanda. (Bidyo ni: Jo Maline D. Mamangun/ Kodao)

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)

Mga manggagawa, nagmartsa sa Araw ng mga Bayani

Nagsama-sama ang libu-libong manggagawa sa Araw ng mga Bayani sa tinaguriang nilang “Martsa ng Manggagawa” noong Agosto 27 mula Welcome Rotonda hanggang sa Mendiola sa Maynila.

Panawagan nila na itigil na ang kontraktwalisasyon sa paggawa, ipatupad ang pambansang minimum na sahod na P750, at wakasan ang iba pang porma ng pagsasamantala sa manggagawa.

Ayon sa Kilos na Manggagawa (KnM), sa nakalipas na dalawang taon, umabot na sa 40 milyon na manggagawa sa buong bansa ay kontraktwal.

Karamihan sa mga ito ay nasa sektor ng manupaktura at serbisyo na tumatanggap din nang napakababang sahod o mas mababa pa sa minimum na sahod.

Isang halimbawa dito ay sa Southern Tagalog na umabot sa mahigit 20,000 ang kontraktwal.

Dagdag pasakit din sa mga manggagawa ang mga patakaran na ipinataw nang gubyernong Rodrigo Duterte tulad ng Department Order 174 at Executive Order 51 na sa katunayan ay nagpapatindi lamang ng iskemang endo.

Dagdag pa nang KnM, malaking dagok din ang TRAIN law na siyang bumubutas sa bulsa at kita ng mga manggagawa.

Habang binabarat ang sahod, patuloy naman na pinahihirapan ang mamamayan sa mga dagdag bayarin at buwis.

Binigyang-pugay din nila ang mga manggagawa na siyang tunay na bayani at tagalikha ng yaman.

Malaking hamon naman sa mga manggagawa na labanan ang tumitinding atake sa mga manggagawa kagaya nang pambubuwag sa mga unyon, pagpaslang at pagsasampa ng mga gawa-gawang kaso sa mga lider unyonista. # (Ulat at bidyo ni Joseph Cuevas)