Sagara workers storm national government offices: Call for Aquino’s ouster due to union-busting, contractualization, meager wages

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Labor unions under the alliance of Coalition of Autoworkers and Related Industries Against Imperialist Domination (CAR-AID)trooped to the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) Main Office and Mendiola Shrine last April 21, condemning the recent union repression cases and to call for the end of contractualization of workers.

Majority of the workers who joined the protest come from the Lakas ng Nagkakaisang Manggagawa ng Sagara Metro Plastic Industrial Corporation – Independent (LNMSMPIC-Ind), which last April 8 had their Certification Elections arbitrarilycancelled by an Administrative Order from Benjo Benavides, Bureau of Labor Relations (BLR) Regional Director. The workers believe that the cancelation of the CE was unjust and illegal because only a Temporary Restraining Order from the Court of Appeals can issue such a decision.

LNMSMPIC-Ind union president Thaddeus Gecale called out that this case as another scheme of capitalist Sagara to block out their rights for higher wages and benefits. He also mentioned posters in the outskirts of the plant where workers were urged to vote “No,” which they traced to the blackproganda campaign of the counterfeit union federation of National Mines and Allied Workers’ Unions against the CE.

“Our experience only proves that the capitalist has everything in its arsenal – even the government – to hamper the exercise of basic human rights, and in preventing to solidify the unity of workers in Sagara,” Gecale said.The union trooped to regional offices instantly after the news of the election cancellation. However, their calls fell on deaf ears – as they were finally referred to the national bureaus to settle their case.

In agreement, Reden Bauyon, Chairperson of CAR-AID stated that in car industry related factories such as Sagara, union repression is more evident having low wages and no benefits. Added to this is the fact that 70%-80% of the workforce already comprise of contractual workers. According to him, the Aquino government has not even a lifted a finger in such workers’ issues; but has rather exacerbated them.

“We are welcoming Labor Day with the consistent trampling of workers’ rights including absence of job security andmeasly wages. For five years, BS Aquino has one by one implemented anti-worker policies such as the Two-Tiered Wage System, Herrera Law, labor flexibilization, militarization in the workplace, and many others that haveplaced the workers in a dismal condition,” said Bauyon.

Bauyon also stressed the need to increase the National Minimum Wage to P16,000 since the current cost of living is already too expensive for workers especially those with families – with an average of P317 minimum wage in Southern Tagalog, much lower for contractual and casual workers.

“Our continuous struggle against foreign domination and in the essential rights of the workers and the people will blaze a larger flame as we call for BS Aquino’s ouster and in the creation of the People’s Transition Council,” he added

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