EJKs, ‘endo’ haunted workers in 2016, millennials, workers linking up
The broken promise of ending “endo” and the drug war’s spilling over into the ranks of trade unionists were the big issues that faced workers in 2016. Still like most Filipinos, workers bid goodbye to the bad news of 2016 and look forward to good tidings in 2017. A hope for this year is the forging of an alliance for real change between millennial students and militant workers.
With all the presidential candidates promising to stop the unjust practice of contractualization, 2016 enkindled in workers great hopes. More so, after President Duterte repeated his pledge with public assurances that endo will be scrapped and directed the Department of Labor and Employment to ensure this policy shift.
However, the draft DOLE order, supposed to be released two weeks ago, has been universally condemned by moderate and militant labor groups alike. If signed, it will continue rather than prohibit outsourcing, subcontracting and other forms of contractualization. The ball is now with Malacañang.
The labor coalition Nagkaisa thus calls on Mr. Duterte to junk the draft order and to live up to his promise to end “endo.” We are now waiting for the President to heed our cry.
The outsourcing dispute between Philippine Airlines and its workers’ union, Palea, is another source of bitter disappointment. For months, with DOLE mediating, Palea has been negotiating for the reinstatement of 600 dismissed PAL employees who had resisted “endo.” But last December, instead of enforcing a settlement agreement that provided for their re-employment, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello did a Pontius Pilate and left it to the courts to resolve the issue.
Meanwhile, as many have feared, the bloody war on drugs has spilled into the labor movement. In September alone, two labor leaders were ambushed (vigilante style), six farmers were killed, and a union officer was arrested by police—on trumped-up drug charges.
Partido Manggagawa Cebu leader Orlando Abangan was ambushed on his way home and former union president Edilberto Miralles was gunned down in front of the National Labor Relations Commission, just days apart; in Tarlac, policemen abducted Patricio Tago Jr., a union vice president, then imprisoned him allegedly for being a drug pusher. Calls for tripartite consultations and the convening of a task force on violent attacks on unionists have just fallen on deaf ears.
The culture of impunity is to blame for the drug war’s spillover into the unionist movement. The killings must stop. The war on drugs must be replaced by a war on poverty. As its more than 6,000 death toll show, the war on drugs is targeting mostly the poor and unemployed.
Increasingly disillusioned over the Duterte administration’s failed promises (ending “endo,” social reforms like a living wage, and change), militant workers and millennial students (who took the lead in spontaneous protests against the hero’s burial of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos) are linking up arms.
Labor’s traditional Bonifacio Day marches became an occasion for militant workers to join the #MarcosHindiBayani campaign. Student groups sent delegations to the traditional workers rally in the morning, and the labor groups sent contingents to the evening protest at the People Power Monument against the Marcos burial.
At the height of martial law, students and workers formed the core of the people’s open opposition that eventually led to the fall of the Marcos dictatorship.
Sadly, the so-called “democracy” that replaced it perpetuated the unjust and oppressive structures that mired millions in dire poverty.
After 30 long years of Edsa’s epic failure, Filipinos are now prey to historical revisionism and the political ambitions of the Marcoses. And with an incumbent President who has simplified the social crisis into an illegal drugs/criminality problem, millions of them face the danger of becoming an EJK victim.
Today’s generation of students and workers must face the challenge of completing the unfinished fight of the antidictatorship movement for genuine change.
RENE MAGTUBO, chair, Partido Manggagawa, email@example.com
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