Mounting strikes, protests caused by Cheap Labor Policy

Nov. 08, 2012

Press Release
08 November 2012

Labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) blamed the Aquino government’s Cheap Labor Policy for the increasing number of strikes and workers’ protests at the company level, saying workers are fed up and are fighting back.

KMU cited the following:

(1) The ongoing strike at the Bacolod Columbia Marketing Inc., in Bacolod City over illegal dismissal and union-busting;

(2) The strike, launched last Wednesday, at the Prudential Custom Brokerage, Inc. in Surigao City over the company’s refusal to hike wages and threat to rollback benefits;

(3) The announcement by workers of First Farmers Holding Corporation in Talisay City, Negros Occidental that they will hold a strike over the company’s violation of the minimum wage.

It also cited protests by workers in Pambato Cargo Forwarder, Inc. over the retrenchment of Iloilo workers who will be replaced by contractuals and in Coats Manila Bay, Inc. in Marikina City over the management’s insistence on making wage orders “creditable” to the wage hike which will be approved in ongoing negotiations for a Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The labor center said it has monitored at least six unions in Mindanao who have filed Notices of Strike over various violations of workers’ rights.

“Capitalists across the country are getting more brazen in pressing down wages in order to boost profits.  That’s because the Aquino government is solidly behind them with its Cheap Labor Policy,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.

“At the company level, workers are being denied a significant wage hike, more and more contractuals are being hired, and workers’ rights to form unions and hold strikes are being attacked.  The Aquino government has approved policies that legalize these,” he added.

“There’s a limit to what workers can take.  Workers are fed up and are fighting back,” he said.

KMU said the Aquino government’s Cheap Labor Policy consists of the following: (1) refusal to hike wages by a significant amount; (2) wage cut via the Two-Tiered Wage System; (3) Legalization of contractual employment through Department Order 18-A Series of 2011; and (4) Various laws that make the formation of unions and the holding of strikes more difficult.

“We are calling on all Filipino workers to exercise their Constitutionally-mandated right to form unions.  We have to fight for our rights, which are enshrined in the Constitution but are being violated by the government and capitalists,” Labog said.

“We can effectively fight for our rights only when we have unions.  And now, more than ever, we need to fight back,” he added.

The labor leader cited Section 3 of Article XIII of the 1987 Constitution, which states that the State “shall guarantee the rights of all workers to self-organization, collective bargaining and negotiations, and peaceful concerted activities, including the right to strike in accordance with law. They shall be entitled to security of tenure, humane conditions of work, and a living wage.”

Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson, 0908-1636597

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