Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Workers blame government for new power emergency

16 September 2014

For doing nothing during the last four years, a second power crisis is materializing under the watch of the second Aquino, the labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM) said in a statement.

“Had the government acted in advance, one of which was going back into generation as recommended by the 19th EPIRA Status Report of 2011, the President would not have been begging for emergency powers from Congress which the same body that enacted the failed Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) in 2001,” said PM spokesperson Wilson Fortaleza.

Fortaleza said that as early as 2010, red flags on the supply side have already been raised by experts and by the government itself.  Even the labor sector under the coalition Nagkaisa! had been calling on the government since 2012 to decisively address the twin problems of high cost and diminishing power supply.

“Yet the government opted to stay in the sidelines, waiting for the promised megawatts from private players to come online. But to no avail,” lamented Fortaleza

“Now PNoy has placed himself in a situation where his mother once failed: Presiding over a power crisis in a panicky and very costly manner,” explained Fortaleza.

The group said that since there is no more time to build an additional 600-700MW capacity to fill in the annual deficit beginning next year, the government is left with no option but to revert back to provisional and very costly mode of power contracting, similar to the notorious IPP contracts done by the Aquino and Ramos regimes.

“These instant, palliative solutions will bring us, poor consumers, more pain,” said Fortaleza.

But before Congress expressly grant PNoy emergency powers, the group said it is but judicious to declare first that EPIRA and privatization failed.

Second, the group said an audit of all the plants’ capacities as per contracts must be done first to determine the actual numbers since there are reports that power plants are not running on their full capacities or are not properly maintained.

Third, Malacanang must also show the real cost of the planned contract that it will enter into, for how long, to whom, and the actual terms it is willing to commit.

Fourth, with or without emergency, the government should strongly push for a shift to renewable energy.

And lastly, emergency powers must not be granted to the Executive if it has no clear, effective and doable plan to strategically address this oppressive, decade-old energy crisis.

Friday, September 12, 2014

PALEA calls for respect for agreement amidst buyout deal

Press Release
September 12, 2014

Amidst the buyout deal at Philippine Airlines (PAL), the Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA), the ground crew union of the flag carrier, today called on management to respect the agreement settling the long-running outsourcing dispute. The union expressed hope that a conclusion to the corporate battle over PAL will lead to the full execution of the settlement agreement as the prolonged buyout talks have delayed its implementation.

Last Monday, media reported that San Miguel Corp. and the Lucio Tan group had signed a deal for the latter to buy back the 49% share of the former for US$1 billion to be paid within one week.

“We expect that PAL management would faithfully and fully implement the terms of the agreement resolving the outsourcing dispute. Anything less would mean the resurgence of labor troubles at the flag carrier that could threaten PAL’s return to profitability,” averred Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and Partido ng Manggagawa vice chair.

In November of last year, PAL and PALEA signed an accord to settle the labor dispute arising from the implementation of an outsourcing program that led to the retrenchment of more than 2,000 employees in September 2011. Meanwhile PAL reported a US$1.49 billion profit in the second quarter of this year, reversing a trend of losses for the past several years.

“PALEA has reliably complied with its part of the settlement agreement such as dismantling the picketline and terminating labor cases. Whoever is in control of PAL, we demand that management do the same,” Rivera added.

The settlement provides for the rehiring as regular workers of some 600 PALEA members who were retrenched in 2011 but refused to accept the outsourcing scheme. The agreement also grants an improved separation package.

Rivera asserts that the resolution of the outsourcing dispute is one of the factors that led to PAL’s profitability this year. In the two-year long pendency of the outsourcing issue, PALEA’s supporters have called for a boycott of PAL.

PALEA’s struggle against contractualization has been a trailblazer campaign that has influenced industrial relations in the country. The Labor Department issued new guidelines on subcontracting called DO 18-A in the wake of the PALEA protest and the fractious labor movement united in support of the embattled PAL union.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Partido Manggagawa demands reinstatement of café workers

03 September 2014

A high-end café and restaurant located at the heart of Malate district in Manila is getting the ire of organized labor after its management sacked several workers upon learning of their move to organize a union some few months back. 

A picket led by Partido Manggagawa (PM) was held today at the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in Manila demanding the reinstatement of Edaville Minoza, Jesus Porlas, Parsamson Hadjirul, Edgar Pancrudo, Stephen De Leon, and Romy Castolo.  All of them were dismissed by the company in January and May of this year without valid reasons and apparently for initiating the formation of a union which is a guaranteed labor right.

According to PM, Hizon’s/ZA’s Café in Malate is a cozy place where celebrities and Manila’s VIPs come as regular guests.  But its workers, 54 in all, are unjustly treated by the company since the time of their employment.  Most of them had been working in the Café for more than ten years yet they are not enrolled in the social security system, Philhealth and Pag-ibig.  They likewise are underpaid, enjoy no job security and have no union representation.  

“This company violates almost all of the core labor standards.  Thus the labor department cannot play deaf and blind to this blatant breaches in labor rights,” said PM Chair Renato Magtubo.

A notice of strike, on the basis of management interference, illegal dismissal and union busting, was filed before the labor department by Hizon workers in January after the first batch of termination.  The case is still pending before the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB). 

Magtubo said the labor department has the obligation to order the immediate reinstatement of Hizon workers as their dismissal was clearly a retaliatory action by the management against legitimate union activities. 

He added that it is also the duty of the State, the labor department in particular, to enforce labor law compliance to all companies however big, powerful, or small they are.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Despite growth, labor underscores systemic failure in rising inequality

Press Release
August 29, 2014

Exclusive growth for exclusive group of wealthiest businessmen. 
This is how Partido Manggagawa (PM) reacted to the twin reports that came out the other day. The party reiterated its position that “walang naituwid, walang naitawid,” as the economy remained systemically non-inclusive.
The first report came from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), announcing the 6.4 percent growth posted by the Philippine economy during the second quarter.  This growth rate, according to the government, is considered to be the best performing in Southeast Asia.
The second report is an updated list of 50 wealthiest Filipinos released by Forbes Magazine which showed their combined wealth rising by 12 percent from $68.5-B in 2013 to $74-B this year.
In a press statement Thursday, Forbes Magazine said this year’s list reflected two driving forces of the Philippine economy: construction and consumption.  This jibes with the PSA findings which show consumption, propped up by the steady growth of OFW remittances, as the main driving force of the Philippine economy.
According to PM, the Philippines’ richest capitalists control the economy in an oligopolistic manner.  They own the industry, the banks, real property, the highways, the biggest media networks, as well as the privatized essential services like power and water.
PM chair Renato Magtubo said, “Growth, however fast and vast it is, makes no difference if it lurks in exclusivity for the country’s 1% while the 99% remain at the corners of terminal marginality.”
Magtubo said today’s growth remains jobless and in fact, an offensive narrative amid high prices of basic goods and services. 
According to PM, the country’s unemployment rate hardly changed from 7.1 percent in 2010 to 7% in April this year.  The same with underemployment, from 19.6 percent to 19 percent.  This unemployment figure is even worse if we compare it to the 1986 rate of 6.7 percent or the 5.2 percent in 1976.
So where did this GDP growth go? PM disclosed that the combined net worth of the richest 10 of the more than doubled since 2006. Henry Sy’s fortune alone for instance climbed by 217 percent from $4-B in 2006 to $12.7-B in 2014; Lucio Tan to $6.10-B from $2.3-B or 165 percent;  and John Gokongwei to US$4.9-B from US$700 million or 600 percent.
At the other end, workers’ real wage remained at starvation level, increasing only by 41% from Php258 per day in 2006 to Php363 in 2013.
In contrast the combined wealth of the richest 50 amounting to Php3.24 trillion is equivalent to a one year income of 26 million minimum wage earners.
Unfortunately only half the country’s employed persons are wage and salaried workers. The other half live on own account or self-employed.
Magtubo said these talks about economic cha-cha, term extension, impeachment, and the early onset of 2016 elections have overshadowed the discourse on inequality which workers believed is equally important if not more fundamental than issues of good governance. 
“In fact even in governance, the political side of inequality is even more pronounced with the three main branches of government ruled by multimillionaires,” added Magtubo.
The group said exposing, educating and mobilizing workers against this evil shall be its priority as the party believes that this is where the past and present trapo rulers perpetually fail. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Personal grudge nor personal ambition can’t justify term extension – labor group

14 August 2014

Seeking a prohibited term extension out of personal bitterness against the Supreme Court would be erroneous if not a fatal political move for the sitting President, the labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM) said in a statement. 

President Aquino the other day made it categorical that he is considering a second term via a constitutional amendment, purportedly to check on the powers of the Supreme Court which he claimed exercise restraint “more often” against the co-equal branches of the government.

The group likewise disclosed, based on reliable sources, that a broad movement aligned to the cause of extending the “tuwid na daan” will be launched soon to create an artificial clamor for continuing reforms and at the opportune moment PNoy will make a major announcement that he has listened to his “bosses” to finally seek a term extension.

This is the nth time PNoy vented his outburst against the Supreme Court after the latter declared his Disbursement Accelelartion Program (DAP) unconstitutional. 

But for PM, pushing a personal political agenda out of personal grudge against the justices won’t justify a still non apparent social objective of reforming the entire political system.  

“We, too, do not believe that the ‘Lords of Faura’ holds the paragon of righteousness in this country.  They are dressed in robes, as crook lawmakers are also clad in barongs, to cover their sins and partiality to the ruling class. Yet cleansing the whole system does not necessarily require having a second term. This is more the task of a revolutionary government, a power that his mother failed to exercise correctly in 1986,” said PM Chair Renato Magtubo.

Magtubo said workers have always been victims of delayed justice and unjust court rulings.  And similarly the two other branches of government consciously take the side of the capitalist class. 

“This situation did not change under PNoy’s term.  For the past four years wala pang naitutuwid, wala pang naitatawid,” declared the group.

PM said workers have more bad things to say about the country’s rotten political and economic system.  But they will neither look at the term extension nor the plan to amend the Constitution based on personal desires of few persons and big corporations as a sound option,” said Magtubo.