Workers’ plight worsened in 2012 – group

AS the country welcomes the new year, labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno said today that the plight of the country’s workers worsened in 2012, slamming the Aquino government for attacking workers’ rights in favor of big businesses’ profits.

KMU said the government of Pres.Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino intensified attacks on workers’ wages, job security and trade-union rights last year:

(1) While allowing prices to increase unabated, Aquino himself rejected calls for a P125 across-the-board wage hike nationwide in his Labor Day speech, claiming that the Philippines has a minimum wage higher than the country’s neighbors.

(2) The Labor Department enforced the Two-Tiered Wage System in almost all of the country’s regions. The scheme’s implementation in Calabarzon saw the imposition of a P255 floor wage, lower than existing wage levels in the sub-region, including the P337 in so-called growth areas.

(3) More than two years after it was filed, the P125 Wage Hike Bill or House Bill 375, which seeks to legislate a P125 across-the-board wage hike nationwide, has been kept at the level of the House Committee on Labor and Employment.

(4) Trumped-up charges were filed and arrest warrants were issued against three of KMU’s National Council members and a leader of the group’s Metro Manila chapter: Ronald Ian Evidente, KMU-Negros spokesperson, Hermenegildo Marasigan, KMU-Southern Tagalog chair, Roy Velez, KMU-National Capital Region chair, and Amelita Gamara, KMU-NCR deputy secretary-general.

(5) The following policies remain in place: (a) Department Order 18-A Series of 2011, which legalizes contractual employment, (b) Article 2636 of the Labor Code, which grants the Labor Secretary the power to assume jurisdiction over labor disputes, and (c) DO 57-04, which enforces the “self-assessment” of companies with regard to workers’ occupational health and safety.

(6) The year saw the implementation of “DOLE-DILG-PNP-DND-AFP Joint Guidelines on the Conduct of the AFP/PNP Relative to the Exercise of Workers’ Right to Freedom of Association, Collective Bargaining, Concerted Actions and other Trade-union Activities” which allows the military to interfere in labor disputes.

“Based on his 2012 record alone, it’s clear that Aquino detests workers’ rights to a living wage and job security and workers’ trade-union rights. Last year once again showed that Aquino is firmly on the side of big capitalists and against workers,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.

“It is not surprising that workers are suffering from worsening hunger, poverty and indebtedness while capitalists are having a grand time with increased profits. Because of the Aquino government’s policies, inequality in the country continues to worsen,” he added.

The labor center said that because of heightened attacks on workers’ rights, workers are fighting back – forming unions, launching strikes, and joining various protest actions. It said it has monitored 12 strikes last 2012.

“Aquino cannot claim that the situation of the country’s workers is improving. In fact, despite the existence of repressive policies, workers across the country have been forming unions and launching strikes,” Labog said.

“Aquino’s mantra of ‘industrial peace’ is not about addressing the causes of workers’ protests, but of repressing these protests. Aquino is no better than Arroyo, and the plight of the country’s workers and poor is the clearest proof,” he added.

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