Workers across PH collectively raise militancy against repressive labor policies

Now seated in power for two years, President Rodrigo Duterte has consistently waged anti-Filipino policies that have become an added encumbrance to the already deleterious state of living of Filipinos across the country. He has proven himself to be nothing but a demagogue who gave false hopes to Filipino workers’ aspiration to end the country’s repressive labor policies.

Filipino workers have long carried the burden of anti-worker and anti-people policies. And the Duterte regime has done nothing but heed the demands of oligarchs, capitalists and other local cohorts. But amid this burden, Filipino workers remain vigorous especially in raising their militancy to fight the oppressive policies under the tyrannical regime of United States lapdog Duterte.

Currently, the minimum wage is pegged at Php 512 a day in the National Capital region. This is barely half of the Php 1,174 daily wage required for a family of six to live decently. In addition, regional wages drop even lower in several provinces in the country. The lives of millions of Filipinos remain dreary and bleak especially that prices of basic commodities and services have increased through the implementation of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Law.

Meanwhile, neoliberal policies enacted by the Philippine government are engineered to keep wages far below minimum and to allow employers to flout worker welfare laws that legally deny the provision of workers’ benefits such as accident insurance and health coverage, sick leaves, overtime pay and social security. Various contractual working schemes have since bedeviled the working class of the country leading to a perilous level of employment, denial of the right to union and association, and further exploitation.

Last February, Duterte said that he wanted to compromise on labor contractualization and admitted that he could not force big businesses to provide all-benefit to its workers. His flip-flopping decision to release an executive order to end “endo” during the early quarters of 2018 shows nothing but a clear insincerity to address the plight of the toiling masses and workers of the country. His maneuver to sign an anti-endo department order on labor day is nothing but a lousy attempt to appease the anger of the workers.

Filipino workers have no other choice but to fight against the repressive and exploitative policies of the US-Duterte regime. They are no longer buying the pathetic excuses of Duterte that puts their welfare in further peril while the rich and big bourgeoisie compradors continue to get grand political accommodations and super profit from the corrupt leader.

In the face of these attacks against Filipino workers, they have militantly fought for their democratic rights. Our workers are the key players of the economy and they are now proving that they can strike a blow against the current repressive system by launching strikes and protests.

The month of July began with protests by contractual workers of the Philippine Long Distance Company (PLDT) after the telecom giant terminated their contracts last June 30. Because of the termination, approximately 8,000 workers of PLDT have either completely lost their job or are in floating status. The workers demand to management to immediately implement DOLE’s prior order to regularize them instead of circumventing it.

Workers of PLDT and workers from the Harbour Centre who are also on strike, held a joint protest in front of the Department of Labor and Employment office in Intramuros on July 2 to denounce the ineffectual mechanisms of DOLE to promote workers’ welfare and to push the institution to implement order to regularize around 378 workers at the Harbour Centre.

Recently, terminated workers of Jollibee Foods Corporation (JFC) camped outside the company’s warehouse in Paranaque City. According to a report published by the Manila Today last June 28, the JFC commissary and warehouse where the workers set-up their “beehive” is engaged in storing, handling and distributing products and other logistical needs of all other warehouses and Jollibee stores in Luzon. The workers conducted a picket-protest to slam JFC’s blatant circumvention of the DOLE Compliance Order on Regularization.

Despite the popularity of Jollibee and its other subsidiaries, the ongoing labor issues between the workers and the company prompted the public to boycott the restaurant. This resulted in the flunking of JFC’s stocks. Every single cent that cannot be earned by Jollibee Foods Corporation will eventually put a stronger pressure to the company to listen to their workers clamor for regularization.

Last May, 131 long time contractual workers of Middleby Phils. Corp., launched a sitdown strike against the company’s threat of termination and refusal to regularize them.

Workers from the Slord Development Corporation, the manufacturer of Uni-Pak Sardines mounted their month long “Kampuhan ng mga Kontraktwal” at the Navotas Fish Port Gate to protest against contractualization and the continuing failure of Slord to provide appropriate benefits for its workers. According to Elvira Jerez, secretary of the Samahang Manggagawa sa Slord Development Corporation, 44 employees were laid-off last May 11 because of organizing asking the Department of Labor and Employment for assistance regarding their condition.

In NutriAsia, the company deliberately benefits from the exploitation of its workers through labor contracting employment. Of the total 1,400 workers in NutriAsia, only 100 are regular workers. They earn P380 for eight hours of work while an overtime of four hours is paid P240. After the violent dispersal by the Philippine National Police on June 14 where 23 were arrested, workers have successfully regained their picket line. However, in a blatant and shameless attempt to bend facts and salvage what was left of their reputation, NutriAsia sent responses to various student and youth organizations who supported the workers of NutriAsia constantly denying that the workers who went on strike were illegally contracted or subcontracted.

However, stories of NutriAsia workers reveal otherwise. The attempts of NutriAsia are nothing but pathetic maneuvers in the wake of people’s outrage over their treatment of workers, and desperation for the sake of profit.

Workers at Monde Nissin baked goods factory in Sta. Rosa, Laguna are also on strike and have successfully constructed their tents and started their picket early June. The picket sparked after the management refused to implement DOLE order to regularize workers and terminated 18 of its employees.

Earlier this June, contractual employees of Pepsi Cola Products Philippines, Inc. held a picket in front of the Muntinlupa soda plant to protest the halting of production operations and the company’s refusal to let them work. 1,000 contractual workers were not allowed to work since, June 11.

Workers in the Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Inc. in Zambales continue to slam the dismal occupational and safety standards observed in the shipyard that resulted in the death of several workers. Their contractual labor scheme also resulted in mass lay-offs and low wage payments.

Honda Parts Mfg. Corporation have also started their picket after the continuous termination of its contractual workers despite order from DOLE to regularize them.

Because of the dire conditions of labor, workers are now collectively organizing themselves and raising their militancy and resistance. The militant mass movement of the workers are emerging in different parts of the country as well — in CoreAsia, AlbertSmith, Pearl Island, Megasoft in Valenzuela City; in Alaska Milk, SMT, Nexperia, Magnolia, in Southern Tagalog; in PLLC in Cebu; and in Sumifru, Shin Sun, Freshmax, and Coca-Cola in Mindanao.

Under Duterte’s tyrannical and brutal regime, workers have no other choice but to tread the path of militant struggle. Over the years, Filipino workers carried the brunt of the country’s permanent crisis that have rapidly worsened under the current regime. Duterte keeps workers’ wage low to entice foreign investors while maintaining anti-worker, pro-capitalists labor policies. While fighting for their legitimate demands, workers are suppressed by the police and military in asserting their right to unionize and strike.

In this fascism-stricken times, Filipino workers have no other choice but to establish unions, ardently advance their democratic struggles, and lead the Filipino people in isolating, fighting, and overthrowing the US-Duterte regime. After all, Duterte is only as strong as his bawdiness and vulgarity. He cannot halt the growing resistance, anger and disgust of the Filipino workers and the Filipino people against his tyrannical and murderous regime.

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