Sentro Celebrates Labor Day with NAGKAISA, Demands Protection of Worker Rights

1 May 2012

His Excellency Benigno Simeon C. Aquino
Republic of the Philippines
Malacañang Palace

Re: Labor Day calls of NAGKAISA!

Dear Mr. President,

We, leaders of NAGKAISA!, write to you to convey our collective calls and to request Your Excellency for a dialogue.

20,000 of us are gathered here today at the foot of the historic Mendiola bridge to commemorate the 109th celebration of International Labor Day in the country. Similar rallies are being held simultaneously in key cities around the country under the banner of NAGKAISA!

For the first time in more than 20 years, 40 labor centers, major federations, alliances and labor organizations have decided to work together and collectively respond to what we see as wholesale attacks on workers’ rights – workers’ constitutional right to security of tenure is flagrantly ignored as various types of precarious work continue to proliferate; with their inadequate minimum wages, many of our sisters and brothers find it impossible to make ends meet; some of them do not even receive the mandated minimum wage; social services remain inadequate for many of our members while their demands for decent and adequate housing is almost always met with violent demolitions. Meanwhile, our right to self-organization is trashed with impunity at every opportunity.

These are the pressing issues that forced us to convene NAGKAISA! and hold a historic “Unity March” from Welcome Rotonda to Mendiola with the theme,“Bawiin ang Dignidad ng mga Manggagawa! Magkaisa! Makibaka!”.

In this march, the coalition is calling on Your Excellency to:
1. Address the worsening precarious work in the country. To ensure that workers’ fundamental rights are not trampled by labor flexibility measures such as contractualization, outsourcing and other measures imposed by employers, we are urging the Your Excellency to certify as urgent the passage of security of tenure bill for the private sector (HB 4853) and for the public sector (SB 2875) that is now pending in Congress. At the same time, the rampant hiring of job-orders in the government sector must end.

2. Support the workers’ demand for across the board wage increases for both the public and private sectors. We welcome Your Excellency’s pronouncement regarding the early release of the public sector’s pay raise. There is, however, still a need to equalize pay between the employees of the National Government and those of local government units. This would be greatly facilitated by revising the Internal Revenue Allotment formula currently being used by government.

3. Address the failures of market-oriented policies in public utilities. Your Excellency, we are encouraged by your recent pronouncement to stay the privatization of Agus-Pulangi dam. We believe that this is a positive move that should be followed by other practical steps that your government can take to lower the cost of oil and electricity. This includes the following: removal of oil and power from EVAT coverage; stopping the indexation of/or pegging the prices of natural gas and geothermal steam to the international prices of oil and coal, respectively; stopping the incorrect implementation of the ERC’s performance-based rate (PBR) methodology as this allows power firms to increase rates in anticipation of future expansion and other capital expenditures; and, reforming the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC). In the long run, however, we believe that we need to scrap the EPIRA law and the Oil Deregulation law.

4. Prevent the violent demolitions of informal settlers by issuing an Executive Order that would stop the demolition of informal settlers and fast track the development of decent and adequate housing for the poor.

5. Provide solid guarantees for workers’ right to self-organization. This would include measures that would strengthen right to self-organization and collective bargaining for all types of workers such as: ensure the immediate ratification of ILO Convention 189 for Domestic Workers before the ILO convenes the 101st session of its International Labor Conference this June 2012 in Geneva; certifying as urgent the passage of the Magna Carta for Domestic Workers; revoking PSLMC Resolution on Registration and Accreditation of Public Elementary and High School Teaching Personnel Organizations in the Department of Education, which curtailed the right to organize of teachers in the public schools and Circular No. 2011-5, which undermines the public sector workers’ right to collectively bargain.

6. Protect and generate secure and decent jobs for all. Massive destruction of decent jobs through outsourcing and contractualization must be prevented. A clear directive to protect unionized jobs must be issued. Rampant smuggling must be stopped to prevent further de-industrialization. A moratorium on the Government Rationalization Program or EO 366, which would lead to massive job losses in the public sector, must be imposed.
These are the major issues that compound the current woes of the working people. We are aware of the complexity of some of the demands that we are making. This is the reason why we are requesting for a dialogue where we can elaborate on our views.

Thank you very much Mr. President as we anticipate your positive response in the soonest possible time.

Sincerely yours,

Signed by the Convenors of NAGKAISA!


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