BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
Retrenched workers and those in danger of being retrenched, as well as long-time contractual workers gathered today at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City to launch an association that, they say, would defend their rights.
The association is called the Samahan Laban sa Tanggalan at Kontraktwalisasyon (STK or Association Against Retrenchments and COntractualization). Among the organizations that cooperated in forming STK were the Kilusang mayo Uno (KMU or May 1st Movement), the Kilusan ng Manggagawang Kababaihan (KMK or Movement of Women Workers), and the Pro-Labor Legal Assistance Center (PLACE).
Some 15,000 workers in the Philippines have lost their jobs from November 2008 to January 2009 alone, government data show – while around 19,000 more were made to work for reduced working hours. The KMU chapter in Southern Tagalog, the Pagkakaisa ng mga Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan (Pamantik or Unity of Workers in Southern Tagalog), estimates that around 40,000 workers from the electronics and car manufacturing industries in the Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon) area would lose their jobs by the first half of the year. These two industries along with other industries engaged in export, such as garments and toys, are expected to be hit hard by the crisis as demand from export destinations such as the US weakens because of the crisis.
It is not just the local-based workers who are taking the axe. Government data further show that some 500,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) will be sent home this year due to the crisis. Some 5,800 OFWs have been sent home from November 2008 to January 2009, government data further show.
“Business and government are conspiring to further exploit workers amid the crisis,” said Gilda Sumilang, STK spokesoperson.
“They are using the crisis as an excuse to justify arbitrary retrenchments,” Sumilang said. “Others, meanehile, find additional excuses for not regularizing their workers, or for employing only contractuals. Others implement wage cuts, forced leaves, and other labor-flexibilization schemes.”
The STK calls among other things for a stop to retrenchments, the scrapping of the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DoLE) Guidelines on Flexible Work Arrangements, the generatiojn of local jobs, allocation of people’s money for social services, additional benefits from public and private insurance funds, the passage of the bill legislating a P125 wage increase, and controls on the prices of basic goods and services. (Bulatlat.com)