By Kilusang Mayo Uno
For the fourth consecutive time, the Philippines has been tagged as one of the “worst countries in the world for workers” on this year’s Global Rights Index report by the International Trade Union Confederation. This however is the country’s first time to be included in the ten-worst ranking together with South Korea and Kazakhstan.
National labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno expressed alarm over the country’s consistent low rankings on the ITUC Global Rights Index saying this reflects the fact that Filipino workers’ conditions are not getting any better and are even getting worse with the continuing government policies of cheap, contractual and suppressed labor.
“The ITUC report reflects the worsening conditions of labor in the country. Filipino workers’ rights are under attack by the onslaught of neoliberal economic policies of pressing down wages, legalized contractualization and suppression of workers’ democratic rights,” Jerome Adonis, KMU secretary general, said.
The ITUC Global Rights Index 2017 report ranked 139 countries according to 97 internationally recognized indicators on where workers’ rights are best protected in law and in practice.
The KMU meanwhile see the prevalence of contractualization, and its legitimization by the recently signed Department of Labor and Employment Order 174, as one of the key factor on the worsening violations against workers’ rights in the country saying contractual employment schemes deny 90 percent of Filipino workers of any employer-employee relationship status from which all international and local labor laws are based.
“Contractualization as the government’s employment policy has subjected majority of Filipino workers to gross labor rights violations and exploitation. Contractual workers, which according to Bureau of Labor Relations’ data compose 90 per cent of the total work force, are deprived of their basic rights to living wages, secured and regular jobs, to proper benefits and social protection, to unionize and to collective bargaining,” said Adonis.
The labor leader also claimed that the attacks against workers’ rights are being intensified by the Duterte administration’s imposition of martial law in Mindanao which is now being used as a license to curtail civil liberties and suppress workers’ legitimate and just demands.
“Duterte’s martial law only serves to further intensify the attacks against workers’ rights. Last June 2, a week since its imposition, martial law has been used as license to violently disperse and arrest workers of banana plantation giant Shin Sun Tropical Fruit Corporation in Mindanao who have been on strike for more than 2 months against contractualization and union busting,” Adonis said.
The KMU insisted that the Philippines’ consistently low rankings in the ITUC Global Rights Index report should serve as a wake-up call for the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte to break-away from the neoliberal economic framework of cheap, contractual and suppressed labor.
“Duterte can choose to uphold workers’ rights and dignity over corporate greed by rejecting the neoliberal economic policies imposed by the US through the IMF and World Bank. He can start by fulfilling his commitment to end contractualization and by lifting his anti-worker martial law,” Adonis said.
KMU meanwhile called on Filipino workers to unite in collective struggle to assert their rights and dignity against the escalating neoliberal attacks on labor.
“Only through our collective struggle can we assert our rights and dignity. We call on Filipino workers to unite and fight for our rights to living wages, regular jobs, to unionize, to collective bargaining and to strike which is now being trampled by neoliberal policies and Duterte’s creeping authoritarian rule,” said Adonis.