By Leslie Ann Aquino
The Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) is planning to submit a letter to the International Labour Organization (ILO) to ask the latter to look into the current state of labor rights in the Philippines.
In a statement, KMU Chairman Elmer Labog said they will ask the international institution to look into the current state of labor rights in the Philippines, specifically some recent cases, wherein trade union rights and civil liberties of Filipino workers and trade union activists were said to have been severely abused and violated.
“Workers are informing ILO that President Rodrigo Duterte and his government continues to be increasingly intolerant of labor unions and unionists’ campaigns to assert their rights and welfare against the worsening crisis in the country particularly brought about by the steep rise in inflation which reflects the rising cost of the most basic commodities and services,” he said.
“Labor unions launching legitimate and peaceful strikes stand accused of being part of the destabilization effort against Pres. Duterte. The government’s response to labor disputes is militarization,” Labog added.
According to KMU, the letter will comprise a special complaint against the Philippine government in its violation of ILO Convention 87 Freedom of Association and Right to Organize and ILO Convention 98 Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining.
“The Philippine government is violating workers’ freedom of association and the right to organize, through red-tagging, vilification, threats and harassment; the illegal arrest and detention of trade union organizations and trade union leaders including trade union activists Marklen Maojo Maga, Juan Alexander Reyes Rowena and Oliver Rosales and Ireneo Atadero; and condoning and even encouraging violent attacks against strikes and workers’ picketlines,” Labog said.
Among the cases to be cited by KMU are the incidents wherein banana plantation workers were harassed by soldiers of Bravo Company under 66th Infantry Battalion of Philippine Army in a Village San Miguel, Compostela Town, Compostela Valley in Davao Region. Soldiers went house-to-house looking for the union leaders and members of KMU local affiliates.
It will also cite the case of the violent dispersals and attacks against the picketlines of workers on strike such as those of Nutriasia Plant in Marilao, Bulacan, Shin Sun Tropical Fruits in Compostela town, Compostela Valley, and Middleby Philippines Incorporated in Biñan City, Laguna.
“Unionists are not terrorists. Organizing workers into union, bargaining collectively, and holding strikes are rights enshrined in the Philippine constitution and in international conventions,” Labog said.
“Workers are now seeking dialogues with international institutions, and they even travelled from Mindanao to Manila to hold a campout in front of the Presidential Palace, because the labor and human rights violations are escalating. The attacks on workers must stop,” he added.
The labor group is expected to send the letter to ILO office in Geneva, Wednesday.