Hotel workers urge SC to review Dusit case en banc

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Workers mourn the Supreme Court’s complicity (through its Second Division) in the violation of the rights of workers to freedom of expression and to security of tenure. The Second Division refuse to submit the Dusit Case to the Court En Banc despite the obvious reversal of doctrines in its November 8, 2008 Decision. A mere division cannot reverse or modify doctrines of law; only the Court En Banc can.

 The Second Division’s Decision dated November 8, 2008 is clearly both illogical and unjust. Thus, the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association said that:

 “The Committee considers that equating the mere expression of discontent, peacefully and lawfully exercised, with a strike per se results in a violation of the freedom of association and expression”.[i]

Workers belonging to SENTRO marched to the Supreme Court today to urge Chief Justice Sereno to review the case  En Banc and reverse the illogical and unjust labor jurisprudence which was found to be in violation of ILO Core Conventions.

While they laud the recent decisions of the Court, particularly on the PDAF and DAP, the workers also ask that the Chief Justice take a look at patently unjust decisions of the Court.

Dusit Hotel workers were deemed to have gone on strike in 2001 solely because some of them reported for work with shaved heads. The management had prevented from working not only those who shaved their heads, but also women union officers (none of whom shaved their heads) and members who did NOT shave their heads nor cut them short as well as male union officers who had long lost their hair due to the ravages of time.

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Justice Velasco, the ponente, fully aware that work stoppage or slow-down is an essential element of a strike, used tortured logic to somehow arrive at a conclusion that indeed there was work stoppage: some of the male officers and members shaved their heads, thus forcing management to choose between allowing supposedly unsightly bald employees to serve “first class” guests at a 5-star hotel, or prevent them from reporting from work. Since the hotel opted to prevent the bald workers from working, the Union is considered to have gone on strike!!

However, management also refused entry to female officers and female members whom they thought were sympathetic to the Union. Male officers and members who were already bald were also refused entry. Since baldness alone was not the criteria for refusal of entry to the Hotel, there is clearly no logic whatsoever to the conclusion of J. Velasco – tortured or otherwise.

CJ Sereno is an international law professor here and abroad. The ILO said that the ruling in Dusit was wrong and inconsistent with ILO Conventions. DOLE officials attend yearly ILO meetings in Geneva, Switzerland – which costs the government a lot of money. The expenses of the DOLE in Geneva are valid and legitimate – and so is the ruling of the ILO in this case.

The Secretary of Labor found that no violence occurred in the picketline, but this was totally ignored by the Court.

Justice Ruben Reyes, who was supposedly one of members of the Second Division which denied the Union’s Motion for Reconsideration on February 9, 2009, was already retired as of January 2008!

4 Clearly then, the Second Division was not validly constituted since the four (4) remaining justices cannot be considered a division. (It was not as if there were actually 5 members except that one was indisposed.) Hence, the February 9, 2009 resolution cannot be considered as a resolution of the Court, and is therefore a mere scrap of paper.

The then Clerk of Court, Atty. Ludichi Yasay Nunag, admitted that the resolution was inadvertently released prior to the replacement of Justice Ruben Reyes. Justice Presbitero Velasco admitted in a congressional hearing that indeed there was a mistake. Thus, they both tacitly admitted that the Division was not validly constituted.

The Dusit workers could not understand how simply saying that there were “inadvertence” and “mistakes” would legitimize an otherwise patently void resolution!

To correct the “mistake” or what to Dusit Hotel worker is clearly a culpable violation of the Constitution, the 2nd Division of the Court should have nullified the February 9, 2009 Resolution. Instead, it gave a stamp of validity by expunging the Dusit hotel workers Motions for Reconsideration.

On March 13, 2009, or barely nine (9) days after the February 9, 2009 resolution was released the Court, with apparent undue haste, issued an Entry of Judgment based on the expunction of petitioner’s motions assailing the validity of the February 9, 2009 Resolution.

The Second Division has failed to address the contention of the Union that only the Court En Banc can reverse doctrines enunciated by the Court. This matter was first raised by the Union way back in January 2009. After the issuance of the February 9, 2009 Resolution, the Union also maintained that the Division cannot be considered as such and thus the Resolution was null and void. The Union has reiterated both of these matters in many motions for reconsideration. The Court simply ignored all of these.

Meanwhile, SEVENTY FIVE MILLION PESOS (PHP 75,000,000) in service charge promised to the workers who were not dismissed has since been missing.

[i] [i]358th Report dated November 2010

 

 

Workers to ‘gods of Faura’: Stop power firms’ blackmail, fraud

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While politicians and businessmen have joined President Aquino for the National Day of Prayer and Solidarity to the victims of natural and man-made calamities, workers in Metro Manila belonging to the labor coalition Nagkaisa, trooped to the Supreme Court to seek relief and ultimate deliverance from unjust power rate hikes.
The fifteen (15) justices, also known as ‘The gods of Faura’, were set to hear oral arguments tomorrow on several petitions seeking injunctions to Meralco’s P4.15/kWh rate increase.  Prime in the agenda to resolve are questions on whether or not the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) committed grave abuse of discretion in approving Meralco rate hike; whether or not automatic rate adjustment is valid; and whether or not the generation sector is not a public utility and therefore beyond regulation by ERC, among others.
“We pray that the justices deliver us from a decade-old fraud and industry blackmail,” said Nagkaisa in a statement released during their picket at the gates of the Supreme Court building. The group was referring to frauds committed under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), including the latest allegations on collusion and market abuse among power firms and the latter’s threat of rotating blackouts had they fail to collect rate increases.
Nagkaisa asserted that since the enactment of EPIRA which led to the deregulation of the generation of generation sector, privatization of Napocor assets, the creation of spot market, and the introduction of performance-based regulation, fraud became the norm in the power industry as shown by rising prices and cartelization.
“It is no secret that owners of power firms, the so-called Voltage 5 (Aboitiz, Lopez, San Miguel, Henry Sy, and Pangilinan) have been earning record high profits from record high tariffs of their power-related firms,” said Nagkaisa.
The labor coalition recalled that lowering the cost of power was the pledge of the Arroyo administration when it prodded Congress to pass the EPIRA upon assumption to power 13 years ago today.
Nagkaisa explained further that since 2008, many of its convenor groups have attended, submitted position papers, and argued against the ills of EPIRA before committee hearings of both houses of Congress, including those conducted by the powerful Joint Congressional Power Committee (JCPC).  Yet no actions were made to address those concerns.
It likewise chided the Executive for peddling the line that the only choice for now is between expensive power, or having no power at all.

“We hope the Supreme Court brings light to a dark decade of power hikes, naked greed, and blackmail amid unreliability of power supply,” concluded Nagkaisa!

LEARN hosts public sector forum

DSC_0705Public sector unions from the Philippine Independent Public Sector Employees’ Association (PIPSEA), Confederation of Independent Unions in the Public Sector (CIU), Samahang Manggagawa sa Paliparan ng Pilipinas (SMPP), Postal Employees Union of the Philippines (PEUP), Office of the Solicitor General Employees Association (OSGEA), and Sultan Kudarat Association of Provincial Employees (SKAPE) gathered on 9-10 December in Antipolo, Rizal to discuss issues hounding the public sector workers. The unions agreed to step up the campaign for the ratification of ILO Convention No. 151 (Freedom of association and collective bargaining for public sector workers) and salary increase for the public sector workers, among others.

The forum was supported by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung – Philippine Office.

 

SENTRO statement on the 150th birth anniversary of Andres Bonifacio

DSC_0185TODAY we celebrate the sesquicentennial birth anniversary of Andres Bonifacio, the founder of the Kataastaasang Kagalanggalangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (Katipunan or KKK), which spearheaded the 1896 Revolution, the first anti-colonial uprising in entire Asia and spawned as well the first republican government in this region.

 

Katipunan evokes not only national pride but strikes a chord with today’s trade unionists and other social activists. It indeed triggered a “people’s rebellion” as it was widely supported and its vast majority of members and many key leaders, particularly at its early stage, came from the ordinary people. It had also close links with the then early forms of workers’ organizations, the various craft and area guilds or gremios – the proto-unions or precursors of contemporary trade unions. And it has proven that the masses, through their revolutionary movement, had actually governed the country at one point in our history – an inspiring reminder for today’s working class that we have the capability and responsibility to do so again as the elites have repeatedly shown that they are incapable of freeing and unwilling to free the majority from hunger, oppression and ignorance.

 

Remembering Bonifacio, therefore, conjures up bittersweet emotions as it reminds us both of his heroism and the treasonous tragedy that befall him and the Katipunan: How the emerging native elites hijacked the revolutionary leadership and redirected the course of the revolution against Spanish rule, including their subsequent surrender to and cooptation by the next colonizer, the US imperialism; how they murdered Bonifacio and his brothers in 1897; and how they eventually imposed a revisionist if not distorted version of history to favor the ruling class – which includes denying Bonifacio the right, the legacy and the honor to be designated as the first President of the first Philippine Republic.

 

More than a century since the 1892 founding of the Katipunan and the 1896 Revolution, the messages of Bonifacio and the Katipunan have continued to be relevant, especially their call for “kapatiran” (brotherhood/sisterhood) or for the people to unite, organize and mobilize to attain “kalayaan” (freedom), “katarungan” (justice) and “pagkakapantay-pantay” (equality). Likewise, “kabutihang-loob” (kindness/concern for others) and “kaginhawahan” (comfort/not living in destitution) were inculcated. In fact, they are not only timeless virtues but persistent demands and aspirations of the citizenry up to this day.

 

Hence, while formally independent, the Philippines, like all so-called developing nations, is still under the clutches of a “new” economic bondage that benefits merely a few, and perpetrated now through predatory global corporations and exploitative neoliberal programs – unfettered economic and financial liberalization, deregulation and privatization – enforced throughout the world primarily by neoliberal bodies (WTO, IMF-World Bank, regional economic blocs) and governments. Accordingly, despite the much ballyhooed successive “growth” in its gross domestic product (GDP), the Philippine poverty incidence has barely changed if not really worsened, whereas the country’s handful of super-rich has even become richer and more powerful. The neoliberal tentacles extend to the labor front as they institutionalize precarious or contractual jobs notorious for low or unstable wages and benefits, no security of tenure, and excluded from “traditional” unions and CBAs/CNAs – thus, a potent tactic of destroying trade unionism and the overall labor movement.

 

The call for “kapatiran” is an appeal for us to continue the struggle against neoliberalism (a rehashed type of capitalism), elitism, patriarchy and all forms of injustice. The elites, instead of fostering “pagkakapantay-pantay,” have repeatedly amassed untold wealth for themselves by “legal” and illegal means and trickery – the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam included. “Kaginhawahan” remains elusive amid impoverishment, meager income, skyrocketing costs of basic goods and services (food, education, etc.), joblessness, contractualization, inability to own a decent house, poor government social services, and thus an uncertain future. Providing solidarity to the oppressed demonstrates not only our “kabutihang-loob” but our resolve to secure for all of us a future where genuine “kalayaan” – freedom from poverty and repression – and “katarungan” reign.

 

Let this momentous event this year further arouse us to heighten our efforts and deepen our commitment in unmasking and fighting the multiple layers of crises currently or routinely exploding across the world – economic, financial, food, energy, and even climate change – that are mainly instigated by the greed for wealth and power, or in particular for bigger corporate profits as personified by neoliberal or capitalist-led globalization, a wicked design that intends to make obsolete even the moderate welfare state and to repeal the historic gains of the socialist and labor movements.

 

Incidentally, Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: “Haiyan”) will not be the last of its kind because of man’s unrestrained practices – led by the industrial countries’ pollution- or carbon-spewing factories – that poison the water, land and air. This in turn damages the ozone layer that protects the Earth and causes climate change or global warming resulting to volatile and dangerous weather, a phenomenon now accepted by most of the world’s top scientists. Failure to substantially and promptly reduce this carbon footprint – which the industrialized nations stubbornly reject, as shown during the UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw, Poland last Nov. 11-23 or only a few days after Yolanda battered central Philippines – will mean storms that are stronger, wider in scope and probably longer in duration.

 

Let us make all the culprits in the said multiple crises accountable as we renew our vows to fight for kalayaan, katarungan and pagkakapantay-pantay.

 

Ipagbunyi ang ika-150 kaarawan ni Gat. Andres Bonifacio!

Tanghaling Unang Pangulo ng Pilipinas si Bonifacio!

Ipagpatuloy at paigtingin pa ang mga aral at simulain ng Katipunan!

Mabuhay ang mga manggagawa!

Mabuhay ang kilusang paggawa!

PMA wins in certification election in an EPZ-located Japanese electronics firm

AFTER a second attempt in three years, a Japanese electronics company inside a Special Export Processing Zone (SEPZ) in the Philippines was unionized when majority of its regular workers voted to have a union in a certification election (C.E.) on Sept. 18, which was marred by sweet-talks and threats of “closure” from management.

Winning convincingly by 220 “yes” against 134 “no” votes, the yes-to-union-approval was a huge vindication for the Katolec Philippines Corp. Labor Union (KAPLU-PMA) and a great reversal of the shocking results during a similar C.E. in 2010, when the “yes” votes were routed by the “no” votes by more than 200 ballots.

Despite its devastating defeat in 2010, KAPLU – which was organized by and affiliated to the PMA – continued to advocate for the Katolec workers even without the assurance that they would eventually support the union.

For instance, KAPLU and PMA quietly assisted the workers from simple advice to their workplace problems to helping in some grievances at work and to the filing of money claims – selfless and actually risky efforts for a non-incumbent union then, which, however, were aptly rewarded with the C.E. victory last Wednesday.

Like in the 2010 C.E., a few weeks before this month’s C.E., the company management became surprisingly accommodating and generous to the rank and file employees, including holding games, team-building exercises and family day gathering, as well as providing or promising groceries and bonuses.

KAPLU revealed that the real motive behind this sudden and temporary “goodwill” of management was to “bribe” or entice the workers to vote “no” again or to reject once more the union, adding that after the “no” landslide in 2010, these unexpected benefits also quickly disappeared.

This “carrot” come-on was, as expected, accompanied by a “stick,” when management strongly warned the workers that voting for “yes” means choosing a bleak future since having a union would allegedly cause the shutting down of the Katolec Philippines Corp. (KAP).

Even after the Sept. 18 C.E., the Katolec management has continued to sow fear among the workers by spreading the threat of “closure.”

“Unions as ‘job destroyers’ are already old, rehashed and discredited black propaganda. The union will only ask the company what are rightfully due to the workers. Likewise, the Katolec Corp., here in the Philippines and in its international operations, are currently enjoying profitable business, thus closing its plant in Laguna is ridiculous,” the PMA explained.

According to KAP, the company has a total workforce of 599 employees as of March 31, 2013, and about 366 of them are regular rank and file.

Established in 1996, KAP is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Katolec Corp. in Japan. The latter, formally started in 1967, has offices and manufacturing and assembly plants in Japan, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Hong Kong, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Mexico.

Katolec firms are mainly engaged in the manufacturing and assembly of electronic components or involved in a so-called new type of business called electronic manufacturing service (EMS), and with clients among big companies in the electronics and transportation industries in many countries.

KAP’s assembly plant – its primary product is the printed circuit board (PCB) – is one of several foreign firms operating at the SEPZ in Laguna Technopark in Santa Rosa City, Laguna province. This 450-hectare private industrial estate, which straddles the cities of Santa Rosa and Biñan in Laguna, is a joint venture of Ayala Land, a premier property developer in the country, and the giant Japanese conglomerates Mitsubishi Corp. and Kawasaki Steel Corp.

KAPLU is a member of the Philippine Metalworkers’ Alliance (PMA), which has currently 25 incumbent affiliate unions in the metal and metal-related industries in the country, including automotive, electrical and electronics, iron and steel, and shipbuilding subsectors.

PMA is a founding organization of the new labor center Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO), in which Francisco Mero, PMA national president, was elected as the chairperson during its founding congress last Aug. 30-31.

PMA is also affiliated to the Geneva-based IndustriALL global union, which is composed of at least 50 million trade unionists in 140 countries and territories who represent “workers across supply chains in mining, energy and manufacturing sectors.”

IndustriALL was founded in Copenhagen only last year from the merger of three former global union federations (GUFs) – International Metalworkers’ Federation (IMF), International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers’ Unions (ICEM), and International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers’ Federation (ITGLWF).