Monthly Archives: March 2011

The Global Network – Asia joins this year’s celebration of International Women’s Day

The Global Network – Asia, through the efforts of the Labor Education and Research Network, joined this year’s successful celebration of the March 8 International Women’s Day in Manila, Philippines.

Today, March 8, 2011 marks the 100th anniversary of the International Day for Women, which is commemorated yearly in many countries like the Philippines. LEARN echoed the advocacies of the Global Network in its statements and posters that put emphasis on the three key advocacy campaigns for 1) supporting the ILO Convention on Domestic Workers; 2) providing social protection for all; and 3) the enactment of the Batas Kasambahay or Domestic Workers’ Bill, which is still a pending Senate bill.

Some of the organizations that joined the celebration include the Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL), Akbayan-Youth, Kaisa-Ka, Amnesty International (AI), Asian Circle 1325, Initiatives for International Dialogue, Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA), Center for Overseas Workers (COW), Coalition Against Trafficking in Women – Asia Pacific (CATW-AP), People’s Recovery, Empowerment Development Assistance Foundation (PREDA), Development Action for Women Network (DAWN), WEDPRO, WomanHealth, Women’s Legal Bureau (WLB), Medical Action Group (MAG), Focus on the Global South, Free Burma Coalition Philippine Women’s Committee, Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) Women’s Committee, Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino – Kababaihan (BMP – K), Partido ng Manggagawa, Pambansang Koalisyon ng mga Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK), Kasarian-Kalayaan (Sarilaya), Bagong Kamalayan Collective, Inc. (BKCI), Buklod – Olongapo, Movement for the Advancement of Student Power (MASP), SCAP, Transform Asia, World March of Women (WMW), Youth and Students Advancing Gender Equality (YSAGE), and the World March of Women (WMW).

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Unions call for impeachment of Gutierrez, some SC justices

news00081AFTER a growing clamor to impeach some Supreme Court justices who allegedly delay the impeachment suit against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, several labor groups have also called for the ouster from the high court of anti-union magistrates, led by Associate Justice Presbitero J. Velasco Jr.

“It is high time to cleanse the supposedly anti-graft court of the Ombudsman as well as the venerable Supreme Court not only from crooks in robes and protector of robbers and tyrants, such as the erstwhile Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime, but also from the lackeys of unscrupulous employers,” the affiliate organizations of the Alliance of Progressive Labor announced.

The APL member unions cited Velasco’s leading role as the ponente or writer of the infamous “shaved heads are illegal strike” ruling in the Dusit Hotel Nikko case, which “dangerously altered the meaning of strike and threatened many labor and trade union rights and even basic civil liberties.”

Handed down by the Second Division of the Supreme Court in November 2008, the Velasco ruling set off howls of protests from across labor spectrum and prompted an investigation by the International Labor Organization, through its Committee on Freedom of Association.

Last November, the ILO Committee released its findings and recommendations that, though coated with diplomatic and prudent words, were essentially a rebuke of the actions of Dusit versus its protesting workers and the Supreme Court verdict as well.

In particular, the ILO suggested to the Philippine government to ensure its adherence to ILO Conventions 87 (Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize) and 98 (Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining), which the country has ratified as early as 1953 and which have both emerged as focal issues in the Dusit case.

The Dusit workers were forced to stage a picket – which is different from a full-blown strike – in January 2002 after they were prevented by the hotel from reporting for work after many male staff cropped their hairs in protest of the obviously dilatory tactics of management in the collective bargaining talks, which had dragged on for about 15 months already.

On January 26, 2002 Dusit terminated 90 of the workers, including 29 union officers of the Nuwhrain-Dusit Hotel Nikko Chapter that virtually decimated the union leadership, and suspended 136 other employees, among them women and other males who did not even cut their hairs but were union members.

Unfortunately, the National Labor Relations Commission and later the Eight Division of the Court of Appeals both favored the Dusit actions pushing the case to the Supreme Court.

However, the highly anomalous rulings of the NLRC and the CA’s 8th Division could have been rectified – which could have revived the people’s trust to the judiciary – when the Dusit case was elevated to the Supreme Court; but its Second Division not only affirmed the earlier glaringly flawed decisions, it had even further legitimized and reinforced them, while adding new and paradoxical legal doctrines, the APL said.

The Velasco ruling declared that when the workers “violated” the Dusit “grooming standards,” it caused disruptions in the hotel operations and thus tantamount to an “unprotected” mass action or not sanctioned by law and “should be considered as an illegal strike.”

It also asserted that when the employees went to work with shaven heads, there was “clearly a deliberate and concerted action to undermine the authority of and to embarrass” Dusit and “therefore, not a protected action” – again.

These and other “outrageous reasoning” cited in the Dusit ruling are described by the APL as “sadly and embarrassingly now part of the Philippine jurisprudence as G.R. 163942 and G.R. 166295.”

The NUWHRAIN-DHNC and later by at least 20 other different labor organizations filed several motions – for reconsideration and to intervene (MRs and MIs) – for the Supreme Court to review en banc the Velasco ruling especially since the latter has wide-ranging effects on the current labor, civil and constitutional rights, including the very basic freedom of speech and expression, thus warranting an automatic reappraisal of the entire high court, the APL said.

But all the MRs and MIs were quickly rejected by the Supreme Court’s Second Division forcing the petitioners as well as an allied trade union group abroad to file two related complaints in 2009 to the said ILO body in Geneva. Moreover, according to the then SC’s Clerk of Court, one of those who participated in the drafting and signing of the Feb. 9, 2009 resolution denying the MR was Associate Justice Ruben Reyes, who already retired a little over a month earlier or on Jan. 2. The Dusit union later filed disbarment case against Reyes.

Unions call for impeachment of Gutierrez, some SC justices

AFTER a growing clamor to impeach some Supreme Court justices who allegedly delay the impeachment suit against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, several labor groups have also called for the ouster from the high court of anti-union magistrates, led by Associate Justice Presbitero J. Velasco Jr.

“It is high time to cleanse the supposedly anti-graft court of the Ombudsman as well as the venerable Supreme Court not only from crooks in robes and protector of robbers and tyrants, such as the erstwhile Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime, but also from the lackeys of unscrupulous employers,” the affiliate organizations of the Alliance of Progressive Labor announced.

The APL member unions cited Velasco’s leading role as the ponente or writer of the infamous “shaved heads are illegal strike” ruling in the Dusit Hotel Nikko case, which “dangerously altered the meaning of strike and threatened many labor and trade union rights and even basic civil liberties.”

Handed down by the Second Division of the Supreme Court in November 2008, the Velasco ruling set off howls of protests from across labor spectrum and prompted an investigation by the International Labor Organization, through its Committee on Freedom of Association.

Last November, the ILO Committee released its findings and recommendations that, though coated with diplomatic and prudent words, were essentially a rebuke of the actions of Dusit versus its protesting workers and the Supreme Court verdict as well.

In particular, the ILO suggested to the Philippine government to ensure its adherence to ILO Conventions 87 (Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize) and 98 (Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining), which the country has ratified as early as 1953 and which have both emerged as focal issues in the Dusit case.

The Dusit workers were forced to stage a picket – which is different from a full-blown strike – in January 2002 after they were prevented by the hotel from reporting for work after many male staff cropped their hairs in protest of the obviously dilatory tactics of management in the collective bargaining talks, which had dragged on for about 15 months already.

On January 26, 2002 Dusit terminated 90 of the workers, including 29 union officers of the Nuwhrain-Dusit Hotel Nikko Chapter that virtually decimated the union leadership, and suspended 136 other employees, among them women and other males who did not even cut their hairs but were union members.

Unfortunately, the National Labor Relations Commission and later the Eight Division of the Court of Appeals both favored the Dusit actions pushing the case to the Supreme Court.

However, the highly anomalous rulings of the NLRC and the CA’s 8th Division could have been rectified – which could have revived the people’s trust to the judiciary – when the Dusit case was elevated to the Supreme Court; but its Second Division not only affirmed the earlier glaringly flawed decisions, it had even further legitimized and reinforced them, while adding new and paradoxical legal doctrines, the APL said.

The Velasco ruling declared that when the workers “violated” the Dusit “grooming standards,” it caused disruptions in the hotel operations and thus tantamount to an “unprotected” mass action or not sanctioned by law and “should be considered as an illegal strike.”

It also asserted that when the employees went to work with shaven heads, there was “clearly a deliberate and concerted action to undermine the authority of and to embarrass” Dusit and “therefore, not a protected action” – again.

These and other “outrageous reasoning” cited in the Dusit ruling are described by the APL as “sadly and embarrassingly now part of the Philippine jurisprudence as G.R. 163942 and G.R. 166295.”

The NUWHRAIN-DHNC and later by at least 20 other different labor organizations filed several motions – for reconsideration and to intervene (MRs and MIs) – for the Supreme Court to review en banc the Velasco ruling especially since the latter has wide-ranging effects on the current labor, civil and constitutional rights, including the very basic freedom of speech and expression, thus warranting an automatic reappraisal of the entire high court, the APL said.

But all the MRs and MIs were quickly rejected by the Supreme Court’s Second Division forcing the petitioners as well as an allied trade union group abroad to file two related complaints in 2009 to the said ILO body in Geneva. Moreover, according to the then SC’s Clerk of Court, one of those who participated in the drafting and signing of the Feb. 9, 2009 resolution denying the MR was Associate Justice Ruben Reyes, who already retired a little over a month earlier or on Jan. 2. The Dusit union later filed disbarment case against Reyes.

MARINO conducts Second TAP Agreement Conference; makes commitment to include TAP seafarers in its programs

The Mariners’ Association for Regional and International Networking Organization, one of the key industrial members of the Labor Education and Research Network, convened for the second time the seafarers under the so-called TAP (temporarily employed personnel) agreement in Swedish flagship on February 23-24, 2011 at the Hotel InterContinetal Manila in Makati City, Philippines, five (5) years after the initial one.

Some fifty (50) seafarers from various shipping companies as well as representatives from manning agencies, Social Security System (SSS), MARINO, SEKO, Akbayan and LEARN attended the meeting in anticipation of the former’s possible membership in both the Swedish Union for Service and Communications Employees (SEKO) and MARINO.

SEKO officials, who went all the way from Sweden, took part enthusiastically in the event. Among them is none other than the President of SEKO himself Janne Ruden, who, at the terminal part of the program, promised to respond to and include the reservations and concerns, respectively, of the seafarers in the next round of TAP discussions in Sweden. Some of the issues raised during the small group discussions and workshop include seniority-related matters regarding the transfer and reflagging of seafarers, pension and medical benefits, translation of important Swedish documents into English or Filipino, SEKO-MARINO cooperation and membership concerns, lowering the retirement age to better enjoy retirement benefits, provision of information packages, among other problems.

Overall, the event was deemed a success following the commitment made both by the seafarers and the seafarers’ organizations to launch more talks and cooperative engagements between them.

LEARN hosts Global Network – Asia regional training on social protection and participatory budgeting

The Global Network – Asia, under the coordination of the Labor Education and Research Network, held its regional training this year on February 22-24, 2011 at the LEARN Workers’ House in Quezon City. With a theme “Capability-building seminar on Advocacies on Social Protection and Participatory Budgeting,” the seminar was aimed at enhancing and sustaining the advocacies on social protection (SP) and participatory budgeting (PB) among Global Network – Asia members in six (6) countries namely Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Pakistan and the Philippines.

The participating organizations include the Self-employed Women’s Association (India), Cambodia Women Movements Organization (Cambodia), Community Legal Education Center (Cambodia), Labor Education Foundation (Pakistan), Federasi Serikat Pekerja Metal Indonesia (Indonesia), Bangladesh Institute of Labor Studies (Bangladesh), and several LEARN affiliates such as the League of Independent Banking Organizations (LIBO), Philippine Metalworkers Alliance/Federation (PMA), Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL), and Postal Employees Union of the Philippines (PEUP). During the 3-day activity, inputs were drawn from the lectures of resource speakers from LEARN Legal Department/Counsel, the Institute for Politics and Governance (IPG), Social Security System (SSS), Kampanya para sa Makataong Pamumuhay (KAMP or Dignified Life for All Campaign – Network), and Akbayan Citizens’ Action Party. After the series of discussions, a workshop was conducted in order to assess the possible action plans that can be implemented to sustain Global Network’s as well as its international partners’ advocacies on social protection and participatory budgeting. The role of various forms of media, especially the internet, television and radio, was also emphasized and they are considered as one of the strongest channels in disseminating information and policy interventions in line with SP and PB.