Workers’ Birthday Wish for DoLE Secretary: ‘Longer Life—in Jail’

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Workers from the Liga ng mga Manggagawa Para sa Regular na Hanapbuhay (LIGA) wished DoLE Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz a “longer life in jail” on her birthday. This came as the labor group, together with striking workers from the Tanduay Distillery Inc., once again expressed disgust over the Baldoz’ outright lack of action to resolve labor disputes in the country.

Tanduay workers under the Tanggulang Ugnayan Daluyang Lakas ng Anakpawis sa Tanduay Distillers Inc. (TUDLA), who are now on their 25th day since declaring a strike, said that the Labor Secretary has been a mere spectator and has neglected her obligations in the midst of widespread contractualization and obvious employment of different labor flexibilization schemes, as well as evident violation of labor standards particularly in occupational health and safety.

In lieu of this issue, Gabriel Women’s Partylist representatives Emmi de Jesus and Luzviminda Ilagan authored a House Resolution for Congress to conduct an investigation regarding the Tanduay management’s Labor Only Contracting (LOC) and various human rights abuses on the workers. Gabriela also filed House Bill 4396 or the Regular Employment Bill which seeks to end contractualization that is already a norm among industrial factories.

The workers from Tanduay are victims of the illegal LOC themselves, who receive a meager P315 in daily wages as ‘part-owners’ of the Global Skills Providers Multi-Purpose Cooperative and HD Manpower Service Cooperative. The said cooperatives employ more than 90% or 397 of the total workforce in the company.

“Despite working directly in the production of Tanduay’s products for 5 to 11 years now, workers under these cooperatives are struggling to live with very low wages, the deprivation of benefits, and the absence of health and safety measures that we should receive. Lucio Tan is, by all means, violating the country’s labor laws, primarily employing widespread contractualization to further boost his profits in expense of the workers’ and their families’ suffering.” Anse Are, TUDLA President, said.

While the Bureau of Labor Relations has already released the results of the DoLE inspection stating that Tanduay has violated the Labor Code, the beverage giant remains rigid, using hired-goons to dismantle the strike by force, and refuses to recognize the contractual workers as their regular employees as stated in the Labor Code’s Article 280.

“This is no different than what other companies and business tycoons implement in their own factories—the denial of regular employment to justify very low wages and withdrawal of due benefits.” He added.

Tan, who owns Tanduay, is the country’s second richest man, with a net worth of P6.1B as of 2015. Henry Sy, who ranks first in the Forbes List of the Richest Filipinos, is also known for his exceptional implementation of contractual employment in all of his businesses. In the Southern Tagalog region, studies show that more than 70%-80% of all workers are contractual, who experience the worst working conditions in terms of compensation and health and safety.

Currently, other factories in Laguna face similar issues on contractualization such as the Sagara Metro Plastics Industrial Corporation based in Calamba City, wherein 15 contractual workers were suspended last June 9. This happened after the association of contractual workers Samahan Para sa Regular na Hanapbuhay have filed a petition for investigation by DoLE on the company’s Labor Only Contracting. 60% of the workers in Sagara at still contractual after an average of 5 years in service. Last April 8, the Certification Elections (CE) filed for by the Sagara workers’ union composed of regular workers, Lakas ng Nagkakaisang Manggagawa ng Sagara Metro Plastic Industrial Corporation – Independent, has been arbitrarily cancelled through a Malacañang Administrative Order. LIGA fears this may be a precedent case for massive union-busting in the country.

Meanwhile, another factory, Karzai Corp. in Cabuyao the workers’ organization Ilaw, Gabay at Pag-asa ng mga Manggagawa sa Karzai Corp. (IGPAK) successfully negotiated the reinstatement of illegally dismissed contractual workers. 90% of the workers in Karzai are contractual and are currently fighting for regularization.

“This crime—the massacre of Filipinos’ livelihood—takes place not only in our region, but in all corners of this archipelago. Just last month, we have witnessed how Kentex workers lost their lives due to the company’s apparent prioritization of profits over their compliance to occupational health and safety standards. As their families wept and sought justice, the DoLE, headed by none other than Baldoz, was consistent in playing spectator.” Ariel Velasquez, LIGA Chairperson, said.

“Like Aquino, Baldoz is fond of playing the blame-game, exempting herself from culpability in crimes committed under her nose, when in fact, her primary role as DoLE secretary is to make sure these companies are abiding by our laws and that our workers’ rights are always at the forefront. Then again, it is obvious that her side is with the employers, and not the workers—and this is why we no longer expect anything from her but further injury. We wish for her a longer life in jail on her birthday.” Velasquez added.

“This wish also goes out to Aquino. His pro-capitalist, anti-worker administration is a death trap for Filipino workers—a road to suffering— especially with the economic Cha-Cha now being baked that will allow 100% foreign ownership in the country. There is definitely no other way to save our jobs and our families but through unified action.” Ended Velasquez.

After today’s press conference at Bagong Alyansyang Makabayan National Office in Quezon City, the workers headed to Makati to hand a letter to the president of the Philippine Stocks Exchange and simultaneously launched a picket protest to pressure companies to boycott Lucio Tan’s businesses while there is a pending labor dispute in Tanduay Distillers Inc. #

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