Monthly Archives: September 2011

Influential labor groups and social movements stage massive and nationwide protests during Pnoy’s second SONA

Broad labor groups and social movements representing different sectors of the Philippine society gathered their troops on Monday, July 25, 2011 to demonstrate President Benigno “PNoy” Aquino’s deficient efforts in combating corruption, poverty, jobs deficit, contractualization, and problems surrounding social protection, agrarian reform, education, reproductive health and labor rights despite delivering lengthy words in his annual State of the Nation Address (SONA).

This year’s protests against PNoy’s second SONA was led by LEARN-member Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) together with the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC), Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), A Life of Dignity for All Campaign (KAMP), Koalisyon Laban sa Kontraktwalisasyon (KONTRA), Church-Labor Conference (CLC), and many other labor groups, people’s organizations and social movements. The mobilizations in Metro Manila, which drew more than 7,000 people, started from Mendiola (Don Chino Roces Bridge) in Manila City to Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City. In the morning, members of the National Alliance of Broadcast Unions, another LEARN affiliate, assembled in front of a cathedral near the venue of the SONA to protest the government’s abandonment of state-run television stations. More groups also maintained presence throughout the day in various parts of Cebu, Davao, Cagayan de Oro and other major cities in the Visayas and Mindanao areas.

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Towards a reorganized and united workers’ guild: CBWA-C in 2011

The Construction and Building Workers’ Association of Caloocan (CBWA-C) sets in motion its newest organizing scheme that would cover more workers in Caloocan in a planning session facilitated by the Labor Education and Research Network (LEARN) on July 15-17, 2011 at Villa Consuelo Retreat House in Caloocan City.

A total of nineteen (19) CBWA-C members and officers reflected on their organization’s future track, compassed by LEARN’s seasoned educators and organizers. The initial results of the activity are the revitalization of the association’s leadership core and the inking of a new plan for the coming months.

Financial Management Seminar held in Mindanao

The Labor Education and Research Network (LEARN) in cooperation with the Federation of Cooperatives Workers’ Organizations (FedCoWorkers) conducted a Financial Management Seminar at the T’boli Hotel and Restaurant in General Santos City on July 12-13, 2011. Twenty-eight (28) officers and directors of 8 primary workers’ cooperatives participated in the activity.

The financial management seminar is in line with the requirements of the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) for the Directors and Officers of cooperatives to comply with the required training program as enunciated in Section 6, Rule 7 of the Rules and Regulations Implementing Certain Provisions of Republic Act 9520 or the Cooperative Code of 2008. It aims to help the participants develop their knowledge and skills in relation to cooperative finance, understand the flow of cooperative transaction and budgeting, and establish an internal control and risk management within the cooperative.

LEARN Gender Programme draws BWAS participants from Mindanao

As part of its efforts to incorporate women in the labor education agenda and social movement unionism of the Labor Education and Research Network, a two-day Basic Women Awareness Seminar was directed by the coordinators of the LEARN Gender Programme at the NFL Building in Barangay Lagao, General Santos City on July 9-10, 2011 which gathered thirty (30) women workers from all over the city.
Aside from the regular speakers, graduates of Basic Educators’ Trainings (BETs), many of whom are members of APL-WISE (Women’s Initiative for Social Empowerment), were also able to discuss, by themselves, several selected topics contained in the program of BWAS. It was thus indicative of their progress in the ladderized educational system of LEARN whereby graduates of certain trainings are given a chance to facilitate trainings themselves.

LEARN’s Gender component regularly holds Basic Women Awareness Seminars in various parts of the Philippines to make women aware of and eventually address key features of economic marginalization, political subordination, patriarchy, as well as the productive and reproductive divide. Sharing experiences and planning also form a huge part of the program which centers on feminist and trade unionist perspectives.

Global Network member FSPMI wins court battle over social security issue in Indonesia

After more than a year, the Central Jakarta District Court in Indonesia sided with the Federasi Serikat Pekerja Metal Indonesia (FSPMI or Indonesian Metalworkers’ Federation) regarding the implementation of the National Social Security Law in the country.

FSPMI chief Vonny Diananto said that the Social Security Action Committee (KAJS), a coalition of more than 1,000,000 Indonesian workers led by Said Iqbal (President of FSPMI) as its General Secretary, received the decision of the court that reads as follows:

“The decision related to the Citizen lawsuit about Social Security Case No.: 278/PDT.G/2010/PN.JKT.PST dated 13 July 2011…declare the defendants (the Indonesian President, vice president, parliament, and 8 Ministers) have ignored the National Social Security Law and are thus proven GUILTY.” The defendants are also obliged to pay court fees amounting to 2,181,000 rupiah (equivalent to 254.641 US dollars).

Despite rejecting another lawsuit, the court further ruled to punish the defendants by compelling them to immediately implement the National Social Security Act with the following specific decisions:

•Immediately create (by legislation) a Social Security Organizing Body;
•Issue a Presidential directive that would establish a National Social Security System; and
•Make adjustments to the social security organizing body in accordance to Law No. 40 of 2004 or the National Social Security Act

“This is proof that the government has violated the Law by not implementing Act No. 40/2004,” Diananto said in a statement. They expect to continue the battle to improve the social welfare system in their country by launching more legal as well as extra-legal actions, such as massive protests and street mobilizations, until they reach what they discussed with the Indonesian Parliament and Government to have 1) a healthy insurance system that will cover all people; 2. a pension system for formal sector workers; 3. a private and trustworthy social security body that will handle trust funds; and 4) a Tri-partite Controller Body that will oversee the Social Security body.

ACCUP rolls protests against new Coca-Cola wage scheme that endangers job security, raises discrimination and takes away workers’ wage bargaining rights

The Alliance of Coca-Cola Unions-Philippines (ACCUP), an affiliate of the Labor Education and Research Network, continues to hold massive protests against the management of Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines Inc (CCBPI), 100% owned by The Coca-Cola Company (TCCC), over attempts to replace annual wage increases determined through Collective Agreements and received by all union members with a new scheme of individual performance-based wage increments that could result in union members receiving no wage increase at all.

In an article submitted to the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF), is an international federation of trade unions representing workers employed in agriculture and plantations; the preparation and manufacture of food and beverages; hotels, restaurants and catering services; all stages of tobacco processing; ACCUP coordinator Danny Fuentes revealed that under the new 3P (Presence, Performance, Participation) system, the annual wage increases currently negotiated in three-year Collective Agreements and Operational Performance Incentives (OPI) paid in addition to wage increases will be abolished, effectively removing the right to wage bargaining. Instead workers will be paid wage increases only in accordance to an Individual Performance Evaluation that has 4 rankings: EP (Excellent Performance); SP (Satisfactory Performance); DP (Developmental Performance); and NP (No Performance).

Workers ranked NP in the first year of the Collective Agreement period will receive no wage increase or a minimal “lump sum” fixed by the management, but in the second year and third year of the Agreement will inflation, it would mean their wages will decline each year.

3P also threatens job security because under “periodic performance reviews” conducted every 2 months, workers ranked NP three times in a row will be terminated without warning. The new rule reads:

“Section 1: Failure to meet the required level of performance for three (3) periodic reviews within a twelve month period. First Offense – Discharge”

ACCUP argues that such a system is open to abuse and would allow unfair discrimination against union members by the supervisors who “evaluate” them subjectively: “… under P3 wage increases will just depend on the mercy of CCBPI management because the CCBPI management is the one who dictates and formulates the performance parameters. Every now and then they increase these parameters until it is no longer reasonable or attainable. So the performance ranking of workers will fall and they will get no wage increases and they can therefore be easily terminated.”

On June 14, the IUF-affiliated ACCUP expressed its opposition to the new wage system during a meeting with CCBPI management and on the same day submitted a letter signed by 20 union presidents demanding that the introduction of P3 be stopped. With complete and utter disregard for this opposition, CCBPI management proceeded to force through the P3 resulting in one CBA deadlock after another.

Collective Agreement negotiations with the San Fernando Coca-Cola Rank and File Union went to a deadlock on June 28. A day after, CBA negotiations with both the Kasamma CCO (CCCBPI Meycauayan dailies union) and the Coca-Cola Sales Force Union-Meycauayan also reached an impasse on the same issue.

On July 7 the San Fernando Coca-Cola Rank & File Union (SACORU), the San Fernando Coca-Cola Professional, Technical, Clerical and Supervisory Union and the Coca-Cola Sale Force Union (CCSU) picketed the Coca-Cola bottling plant in San Fernando. This is the first in a series of protest actions against the attempts by the management to impose the P3 wage scheme, which strips unions of wage bargaining rights and undermines their job security.

CLASS Nepal visits LEARN, forges a new partnership for knowledge-sharing and organizational linkage

A delegation from the Centre for Labour and Social Studies (CLASS) – Nepal, an NGO working in the areas of labour and social issues based in Nepal and recently affiliated with IFWEA, paid a visit to the Labor Education and Research Network Workers’ House in Quezon City, Philippines Saturday, 9 July 2011.

Bro. Rey Rasing, LEARN Executive Director, welcomed the officers of CLASS Nepal composed of Bro. Shankar Lamichhane, President, Bro. Yogendra Kunwar, Vice President, and Sis. Dipa Bharadwaj, Treasurer. They were here in the Philippines to attend the regional congress of the Union of Network International (UNI) and took the opportunity to meet LEARN. During the visit, a discussion on various issues surrounding the labour movement and national situation in the Philippines ensued. LEARN also shared its experience in the areas of education, organizing, research and gender programs as well as the issue of organizational sustainability. Bro. Shankar also introduced CLASS-Nepal and the work it is doing. With its affiliation with IFWEA, CLASS-Nepal will surely be able to learn and contribute to the upliftment of the working class and strengthen international solidarity.