CTUHR 2016 mid-year monitoring highlights killings, workplace deaths, long-term contractualization

11 September 2016   At least forty cases of human rights violations against workers and urban poor were documented by the Center of Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) in the final 6 months of President Benigno Aquino III in office (January-June 2016). Extra-judicial killings, workplace accidents and long-term contractualization are among the glaring cases of worker’s rights violation. Four killed in separate killings due to counter-insurgency program Even as the Aquino administration prepared for its exit, it remained relentless in implementing its counter-insurgency program, Oplan Bayanihan. Four workers were killed and one child laborer narrowly escaped death  due to counter-insurgency military operations. In Negros, Benjie Sustento, a member of National Federation of Sugar Worker (NFSW), himself a land reform beneficiary was abducted, tortured and killed by an unidentified men last January (2016). Prior to his killing,his family reported that they were harassed by armed men and his brother was maliciously-charged with arson. In Pantukan, Compostela Valley, Teresita Navacilla, a leader of  small scale miners was shot  while tending to her retail store on January 30. She was brought to hospital but died 3 days later.  Community members suspected that members of the 46th IB-PA of the Armed Forces of the Philippines were behind the killing.  The 46th IB-PA-AFP is conducting a clearing opertions allegedly for entry of big mining firms. Navacilla  was very vocal in opposing  the entry of large-scale mining companies in Pantukan, Compostela Valley, primarily the National Development Corporation (NADECOR) and St. Augustine Gold and Copper Limited. Pantukan has been declared by the local government as “minahang bayan” (community mining site) to let the local communities engage in small-scale mining as part of their livelihood. Few days later, on February 9, also in Pantukan, Jennifer Albacite, a market vendor was shot dead. The community believes that she had been mistaken for her sister, Jennierose Porras, another community leader known for opposing big mining firms wanting to operate in said area.  Another victim, Ronnel Paas, a small scale miner was also killed following indiscriminate firing by the elements of 46th Infantry Batallion while another 14-year old child laborer was hit on his leg. The child narrowly survived. In an attempt to justify the operations, the troops alleged that Paas and the child laborer were members of rebel group, New People’s Army (NPA). Widespread contractualization in manufacturing Monitoring and surveys conducted by CTUHR among workers in manufacturing companies in Valenzuela City in Metro Manila (See related post) and in electronics companies in regions III, IV-A and VII confirmed widespread hiring of contract workers in various schemes. In a study conducted by CTUHR involving 120 workers from 59 companies in Valenzuela City revealed that most (5 out of 6) workers are hired on contractual basis for many years. Some companies repeatedly hire workers on three to five month contracts and refuse to grant them regular status despite long years of service in their companies. Some companies on the other hand, refuse to re-hire workers after the period of contract despite the fact that they would be hiring new employees to replace the “endo” workers. Meanwhile, a (junk)food producing company has been reported to continuously re-hire workers after “endo” period on the condition that workers use a different name, obviously a vile tactic of the company to skirt legal obligations to the workers. Recent monitoring of CTUHR on workers situation in the electronics industry also revealed a similar pattern. A total of 19 companies covered by CTUHR monitoring shows that contract and agency-hired workers comprise 20 to 80 percent of the workforce. In addition, companies also exploit on-the-job trainees from universities and training centers paying the OJTs lower wages even as they perform similar tasks done by rank and file and other agency-hired workers. More than a year after Kentex,  workplace deaths persist The pain and agony of families of workers dying  in their work did not stop even after the appalling conditions of workers were exposed by Kentex fire tragedy in 2015.  CTUHR documented six cases of workplace deaths, victimizing nine workers. Victims were mostly from construction and mining projects. On March 10,2016, three construction workers were instantly killed in Antipolo city when a wall of the residential building suddenly collapsed. In Marikina City, another construction worker, Ernesto Espaldo, died after he fell into a 10-foot hole. In Compostela Valley, four mining workers died when an underground flashflood and landslide buried the miners alive at Mt. Diwata, Monkayo, Compostela Valley.  According to Ecumenical Institute of Labor Education and Research (EILER), a labor education NGO, at least 40 people including some rescuers were killed, way above the conservative estimates reported by the media. Union rights violations CTUHR also monitored a number of cases violations of workers right to freedom of association and collective bargaining. About 69 unionists faced union busting, and 107 others experienced harassment in their workplace. 140 workers also complained of non-implementation of collective bargaining agreements and 1,104 workers in four companies struggled as their management either refused to bargain or bargained in bad faith. Strikes against long-term contractualization Breaking the barrier to organizing contract workers, long term contract workers organized themselves and reclaimed the rights denied from them. CTUHR monitored four workers’ strikes in the last six months,three of which  are in protest over long-term contractualization.

Strike of Nakashin workers in Davao (photo from Davao Today)

In Davao City, workers of Japanese-owned Nakashin Davao International Inc, manufacturer of frozen fruits and seafood for export, led by NagkahiusangMamumuo sa Nakashin (NAMANA) staged a strike in  May following the illegal dismissal of 75 workers who had worked for the company for 1-5 years.  The workers were recruited through a manpower agency—labor only contractor, prohibited under the law, but work as Nakashin workforce.   Instead of having a peaceful settlement, the Nakashin management  shut down its operation, even without filing a notice of closure or bankruptcy. Nakashin has a P300 million-worth food processing plant in Davao City. It is exporting its products to Japan and Europe. In Laguna, some 361 workers of sister companies-- Manila Cordage Corporation (MCC) and Manco Synthetic Inc. (MSI) launched a strike in protest against labor-only contracting (LOC), an illegal practice but nonetheless carried-out by the management. Striking workers led by their union Manila Cordage Corporation Employees Labor Union (MCC-ELU) and Manco Synthetic Inc. Employees Labor Union (MSI-ELU) under Organized Labor Association of Line Industries and Agriculture-Kilusang Mayo Uno (OLALIA-KMU) occupied the factory since May 5 to present. Apart from contractualization, the workers were also protesting over bad and unsafe conditions of work resulting to accidents and various illneses.  MCC/MSI manufacture and export  high quality cords and ropes used by ships. Since the strike, two (2) workers have died due to ill-health but the company did not budge. It refused to attend the hearing called by the the Department of Labor and Employment  and the latter seemed helpless in compelling corporations to comply with local laws. Such shameless company practice has been in existence for years and until present the government cannot hold them to abide the laws. In addition, workers in Ebara Pumps Incorporated in Laguna and another 70 contract workers of Soro-soro Ibaba Development Corporation in Batangas joined the cry against contractualization. On July 11, workers of Soro-soro Ibaba Development Corp. staged the strike against illegal dismissal of 80 union officers and members, discrimination apart from the lack of job security. The company, registered as cooperative is owned by Representative Rico Derol, of partylist group AGAP in the lower house of congress.###