Strikers get boost with nuns’ visit

Jul. 14, 2012

 “It’s no use to expose other people’s rights being violated if we keep mum on our own rights being violated.” –Noemi Degala, a nun of the Society of the Missionary Sisters of Mary (SMSM)

Davao Today

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The media as bearers of truth are victims too.

This was how a bishop and nuns describe it as they paid a visit, held prayers and lit candles to a picket line put up the striking RMN (Radio Mindanao Network) workers.

“The media knows the truth about the people’s condition as well as their perseverance in struggling against a dire system.  While they broadcast this, they are also victims.  They must organize themselves and unionize to benefit a more just life,” said Bishop Modesto Villasanta of the religious group Promotion of Church People’s Response (PCPR).

“It’s no use to expose other people’s rights being violated if we keep mum on our own rights being violated,” Noemi Degala, a nun of the Society of the Missionary Sisters of Mary (SMSM), said.

Degala, who speaks on behalf of the Sisters Association in Mindanao, added that “(What they are doing) is a just and legal process.  It is not just novelty.  They are sacrificing the income of the family, their life and their work.  What they are doing contributes to the fulfillment of human dignity.”

The recent addition to the list of supporters of the RMN Davao Employees Union (RDEU) was Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, who reportedly said that the strikers were doing the right thing.

“The right to strike is afforded to workers by the Labor Code.  They are exercising their right peacefully,” Duterte-Carpio was quoted as saying, adding that her government is willing to assist the workers sustain their strike on “humanitarian grounds.”

She said “lawyers and consultants will be available for them,” a move approved by her father Vice-Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who called his daughter’s support to the workers “a promotion of social amelioration.”

Sister Mafe Vargas of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines in Caraga region said, “The management should give what is due them, as they (workers) have been fair in not holding the strike without undergoing legal processes.”

PCPR’s Villasanta hoped their support will inspire the workers in their plight, “What they are doing is courageous especially now that the government imposes contractualization on our labor force.  Being in the church, we have seen their just cause.  May God bless their struggle and the welfare of their families.”

Management’s insincerity

Into their fourth day of collective action July 13, radio workers held a press conference Friday where they described the RMN management’s actions as “manifestation of insincerity and indifference” in resolving the on-going labor dispute.

RMN’s radio workers vow to pursue their cause and continue the strike in a peaceful and legal manner.  “We will not stop until the RMN management implements our MOA and resumes the CBA negotiations,” Fabe said.

They criticized the management’s move of padlocking the main gate of the station’s studio in Anda Street, calling it a “blatant attempt to make it appear that the union is violating the egress and ingress of the Labor Code pertaining to the strike.”

This after talks with the management panel and the regional National Conciliation and Mediation Board  Wednesday  bore no results.

RMN radio workers also condemned the attempts of their higher-ups to forcibly sneak three personnel — apparently not from the Davao station — in the transmitter site in Madapo Hills, Bankerohan village and the studio — to continue the station’s daily operations.  RDEU called this move “illegal.”

In reaction, lawyer Joffrey Suyao, Regional Director of the Department of Labor and Employment  said “They (the management) can’t do that.  It will defeat the purpose of the workers’ strike.”

Suyao added, the dispute between the workers and the management should be settled, and it won’t help by replacing striking workers with temporary employees.

RDEU said the management has managed to sneak equipment from the radio station:  three 3 units of microphone stands, two units of microphones, one piece of logbook, one unit of headset, one unit laptop adapter and a set of small speakers.

Journalists help out

Meanwhile, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) National Office, in a statement, called on “all journalists to stand by our colleagues in the RDEU (RMN Davao Employees Union) and to follow their example by organizing and likewise demand their due.”

On Friday, Davao journalists have started pooling resources for RMN employees, according to Jeffrey Tupas of the NUJP Directorate.  NUJP Davao chapter is “calling fellow journalists to help out” in any way they can.

The national NUJP office also called “on all media companies to look to the welfare of their workers and to provide them with humane compensation and working conditions as well as assure their safety on risky coverage.”

NUJP stated that “the measure of a free press is not only in its ability to freely deliver accurate and timely information to the people,” a move Filipino journalists and media workers, it said, have been doing despite facing physical threats and economic deprivations.

A free press, according to NUJP, is manifested when “those who work in media can do so (their tasks and responsibility) free of fear for their safety and well-being.”

Meanwhile, Sheena Duazo, spokesperson of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan),  urged the public to be one with the striking workers in fighting “the repressive and greedy broadcasting network.”  She added, its owner, Eric Canoy, “is a trusted ally of the anti-worker government of President Aquino.”

Since Tuesday, Bayan along with labor organization Kilusang Mayo Uno, the National Federation of Labor Unions, youth and students group Anakbayan and the Nonoy Librado Development Foundation, among others expressed their full support to the radio workers. (Alex D. Lopez & John Rizle L. Saligumba/

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