Monthly Archives: October 2012

SENTRO holds its first educators conference

 SENTRO holds its first educators conference

Labor leaders and educators gathered last 29 October at the Quezon City Sports Club for the first SENTRO Educators Conference. Representatives from LO Norway and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung also joined SENTRO leaders.

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LEARN urges Comelec asked to see Akbayan for what it is, a crucial advocate and ally of workers inside Congress

8 October 2012

HON. SIXTO S. BRILLANTES JR.
Chairman
Commission on Elections

Dear Chairman Brillantes:

The undersigned is the executive director of the Labor Education and Research Network Inc., a duly registered NGO or non-government organization founded in 1986 that provides various services (education, research, publication, networking, etc.) to workers in the private, public and informal sectors. LEARN has currently 13 full-fledged member organizations and about 100 partner organizations nationwide, mostly directly involved in the country’s labor movement and other social advocacies. Members of the LEARN Board of Trustees are in fact leaders of different trade unions and other mass organizations.

I am writing you in behalf of the said affiliate organizations of LEARN to express our categorical support for the Akbayan party-list in view of malicious attempts of some dubious groups to portray Akbayan as allegedly not representing the marginalized and underrepresented sectors of society. Hence, the outrageous calls to disqualify Akbayan from joining the party-list election next year.

Akbayan is in fact composed of organizations and individuals from the basic sectors of society – workers, farmers, informal settlers, women, youth, indigenous communities, professionals, etc. LEARN, for instance, is one of the many NGOs and people’s organizations (POs) involved in the party-building efforts as early as 1994 that eventually led to the formal establishment of Akbayan in 1998. These mass organizations again actively campaigned for Akbayan from the first PL polls in 1998 and in all succeeding elections, including next year. Moreover, Akbayan has championed in Congress a long list of advocacies as well as other issues and concerns that benefited the basic sectors that the party has vowed to stand up for.

Its role in pushing for the passage of the Security of Tenure Bill in Congress that would serve to protect the rights of contractual employees is a clear proof that Akbayan champions the interests of neglected and marginalized sectors of our country. Likewise, Akbayan was instrumental in the pushing for the Right to Labor Organization law which further strengthened the constitutional right of workers to organize. Akbayan has also consistently showed its support for the numerous struggles of the workers against the abuses of powerful corporate interests.

We urge Comelec to see Akbayan for what it is, a crucial advocate and ally of workers inside Congress. Its disqualification from the partylist elections will only deal a huge blow against the campaign of workers for better and decent work. Thus, we respectfully ask the Comelec to treat the said disqualification moves as nothing but a nuisance act or pure and simple heckling from groups envious of the achievements of Akbayan. Thank you.

Sincerely,

SIGNED
Reynaldo C. Rasing
Executive Director

Still fighting for justice: Dusit Hotel workers march to SC; denounce ‘martial law on labor’

Ten years after the workers of the Dusit Thani Hotel were arbitrarily dismissed from work and strangely upheld by the Supreme Court, a march-picket at the high court was held to show that their resistance had not waned even a bit.

Members of the National Union of Workers in Hotel, Restaurant and Allied Industries, led by the dismissed workers of Dusit Hotel Nikko who were still wearing their Dusit IDs, marched and staged a picket at the Supreme Court today to protest what they described as “martial law” in the labor front.

“While people think that martial law was revived through the newly enacted cybercrime law, the truth is, martial law has always been in effect especially in the labor sector,” Reynaldo Rasing, president of the Dusit Hotel Nikko Chapter (DHNC-NUHWRAIN), said.

The workers called on the recently appointed Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno to convene an en banc review of the anomalous decision in 2008 of the Second Division of the Supreme Court when Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco penned the infamous “shaved heads are illegal strike” ruling against the Dusit workers.

We would like to point out that the Court did not even bother to address the issue of reversal of a doctrine of law by a mere division; neither did the Court address the issue of improper constitution of the Second Division on the ground that Justice Reyes had then retired. The Second Division simply dismissed our motions for reconsideration without addressing these very serious allegations, Rasing added.

In 2002, members of the DHNC-NUHWRAIN were fired from work for shaving their heads in protest of management’s dilatory tactics in the then ongoing CBA negotiations. Union members were later forced to hold a picket – but not yet a full-blown strike – when Dusit did not allow them to enter the hotel premises to work.

About 90 workers were arbitrarily terminated, including 29 DHNC officers that virtually wiped out the union leadership, and 136 others were suspended. “It was obviously a union-busting act of the Dusit management,” Rasing added.

When the case was elevated to the high court, its Second Division declared – through the infamous “Velasco doctrine” – that the Dusit workers were indeed guilty of “illegal strike,” thus redefining if not distorting the definition of a workers’ strike.

In 2010, the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association declared that there were no sufficient grounds for the Supreme Court’s ruling because, in the first place, the Dusit workers did not actually resorted to any work stoppage. The ILO body also emphasized that the said decision of equating peaceful and lawful concerted action to illegal strike “will result in violation of the freedom of association.”

“Despite the legal setbacks, we, the Dusit workers, have remained optimistic to eventually achieve justice, considering the ‘small victories’ that we occasionally receive, like the ILO mission’s findings and recommendations and our unyielding commitment not to capitulate to the threats and cajoling and bribing attempts of Dusit – like its recent offer, which was done house-to-house, for us to accept so-called separation pays,” Rasing further revealed.