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Nagkaisa labor groups’ Labor Day demands are now in Aquino’s hands

Press Release
April 10, 2014

QUEZON CITY – Eight workers’ issues raised by labor group coalition Nagkaisa since May 2012 Labor Day are now in the hands of President Aquino to act on following a last minute series of meetings with members of his cabinet with the representatives of the group on Wednesday.

Final details of the issues were threshed out in meetings that took place on April 8 with the secretaries of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Justice (DOJ), and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and on the following day with the Department of Energy (DOE), said Alan Tanjusay, spokesman of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP).

“After more than 100 man hours of discussions with different government staffs, undersecretaries and secretaries within the two year period, we think it is more than fair enough to say that the ball is in the hands of President Aquino. These issues are now on his table,” said Gerard Seno, executive vice president of the Associated Labor Unions-TUCP and a convenor of Nagkaisa.

The issues that were finalized by the Nagkaisa and the cabinet level are for government to (1) ensure security of tenure of workers by criminalizing or eliminating contractualization of labor, enhance labor rights by deterring union-busting and actively prosecute extrajudicial killings of labor organizers and journalists (2) provide exemption and enhancement on minimum wage taxation, (3) institutionalize core labor standards in the agro-industrial plan, (4) address affordability and supply sufficiency of power, EPIRA reform, and labor representation in the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), (5) provide affordable housing program and non-violent transfer of urban poor communities from danger zones, (6) ratification of ILO Convention 151 – a convention concerning protection of the right to organize and procedures for determining conditions for employment in the government service, (7) approve into law the Freedom of Information measure and (8) ensure a jobs-led and workers’ sector participation in the planning and implementation of programs of the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Yolanda-hit areas.

The group also expects Aquino to make an unequivocal commitment to his promised regular dialogue with Nagkaisa on emergent issues affecting the working class.

Labor groups in Nagkaisa were always dismayed at Aquino’s alleged misunderstanding with workers’ issues raised by Nagkaisa every time he meets with labor group representatives over the traditional labor day breakfast since 2010 in Malacanang palace.

“If we want to emphasize how important these issues are for Nagkaisa, well, we have expended substantial amount of unions’ financial and manpower resources for these meetings to enlighten executives the need for government to address these issues that endangers Filipino workers and their families today. As representatives of workers, we have done our part in transmitting these concerns to the administration. We will now observe very closely how the president will respond to these issues and how he treats the working people in the light of May 1 Labor day,” said Frank Mero, chairperson of Sentro.

The group, however, emphasized that Nagkaisa will proceed with their Labor day activities regardless of Aquino’s response.

“With or without President Aquino’s imprimatur on these issues, Nagkaisa labor groups will go on with our May 1 Labor day simultaneous activities nationwide. President Aquino may chose or not chose to favorably or unfavorably respond to some or to all issues we have raised to his attention, he has that choice. But Nagkaisa will pursue resolution of the issues at will whatever the cost and in any possible way because these issues are legitimate and important for workers,” added Wilson Fortaleza, spokesman of the Partido Manggagawa.

Aside from ALU, Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), PM and Sentro, there are 46 other member labor federation and workers’ organizations in Nagkaisa. It was established in April 2011, the other members of Nagkaisa includes Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), Federation of Free Workers (FFW), Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK), Philippine Government Empoyees Association (PGEA), Confederation of Independent Unions (CIU) and KAMAO.