KMU Denounces DOLE-Southern Mindanao for Anti-Worker Stance

Dec. 10, 2006

KMU-SMR appalled by DOLEs pronouncements on state of workers, unionism in Southern Mindanao

Kilusang Mayo Uno-Southern Mindanao Region derided yersterdays pronouncements made by the Department of Labor and Employment XI regarding the state of workers and unionism in the region. DOLE XI, as part of its anniversary celebration, divulged during yesterday mornings press conference at the Philippine Information Agency that 74% of companies in Davao have complied with the minimum wage mandate. The agency also reported on the decline of unionism in Southern Mindanao.

Romualdo Basilio, chairman of the militant labor center, said that DOLE XI has again shed its true colors as lowly capitalist mouthpiece in pushing workers further to privation and trampling on their constitutionally-guaranteed rights to form unions. It is very disgusting for this government agency to assume a pro-worker stand when all along they look for unbelievable excuses to justify the non-implementation of the miniscule minimum wage. He said that the 74% compliance of the minimum wage law among Davao regions industrial and agricultural companies is not something to be proud of.

Commenting on DOLEs line of reasoning that those who do not receive the minimum wage are probationary workers, Basilio said, Where in the law of the land did they fish out the presumption that newly-hired workers are exempt from receiving lower wages compared to other employees? This kind of logic is unacceptable coming from DOLE whose mandate is to protect the economic welfare and democratic rights of workers.

Basilio also criticized the agencys total abandonment of its responsibility to monitor companies with more 200 employees. In Compostela and in Davao del Norte, the most exploitative and repressive capitalists are foreign companies of the export banana industry that employ more than 200 employees. Because DOLE has disregarded their responsibilities, these workers are left vulnerable to further exploitation by their employers.

Basilio also expressed dismay on the agencys downgrading of the repercussion of the decline of unionism in Southern Mindanao. Presently, the DOLE reported, only 4% of the 1.6M-strong workforce of Davao region is unionized. He pointed, We are revolted of DOLEs seeming nonchalance over the alarming fact that out of 1.6M, only 68,000 are members of unions. They cannot claim that they advocate the organization of workers because experience would show that they have done nothing to actively promote genuine unionism. Basilio referred to cases of several unions where the DOLE opted to protect the interest of capital rather than uphold the rights of workers.

He said that it is not surprising that the DOLE would attribute the decline on the number of unions to the prevalence of contractualization. It is not enough to point out the obvious. Workers have known all along that contractualization benefits none but the capitalists alone. What workers want to know is whether this government agency takes the cudgel up to curb this anti-worker policy. Basilio said that contractualization is merely the tip of the iceberg. He said that aside from contractualization, employers have devised many other schemes to deprive workers their rights to organize. Labor flexibilization, he said, includes the set-up of dummy employers such as cooperatives and labor-only contractors as companies evade accountability to workers.

Basilio furthered that until now, the DOLE is still mum about the plights of the workers of Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa San Jose (NAMASAN), workers of Japanese-owned Fresh Bananas Agricultural Company in Compostela. They were arbitrarily terminated on August this year and have been on strike ever since. DOLE is still refusing to declare it a labor dispute and assume jurisdiction over the case. DOLE has also reported that for the past two years, there have been no strikes in the region, a clear denial of the several strikes launched by workers in Compostela from 2004 up to the present.

Regional Director Gloria Tango maintained that the relationship between workers and employers have matured because of the Labor Management Education Program (LMEP). How can a mature relationship exist when by their own pronouncements, workers are being denied their rights to organize? Only a rabid capitalist mouthpiece will declare that such maturity exists because of an overrated program. The only thing LMEP has done is to afford capitalists a venue to justify their exploitative actions. If anything, the LMEP peddles the myth of industrial peace, a scenario where workers are left with no choice but abandon collective assertion and actions and concede to the onerous demands of capital, he concluded.

Reference: Nelson Bautista, Media Officer 0920 962 5986228

Southern Mindanao Region (KMU-SMR)
Tagapamandila Ng Tunay Na Unyonismo
22B Aala Bldg, Anda St, Davao City Tel (63082)305.4962

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