Why we need security of tenure | Inquirer Opinion
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Why we need security of tenure

/ 02:24 AM May 30, 2011

WE WOULD like to point out the little-known fact that the hotel maid accusing Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund and erstwhile possible French presidential candidate, is a union member covered by a contract that guarantees job security.

This celebrated case of sexual assault could have gone the way of many—unreported and unknown—others if the victim had not been an empowered woman because of union protection and security of tenure. Personal courage and union membership gave the immigrant worker from Africa the guts to fight a rich and powerful man.

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The hotel maid works in the Sofitel Hotel whose employees are organized and represented by the New York Hotel Trades Council. A collective bargaining contract guarantees security of tenure for their members, which means that unlike ordinary workers in America, they cannot be fired without reason.

This incident underscores the need to provide job security for workers in general and women in particular. Thus we call on Congress to pass the proposed security of tenure (SOT) bill. The SOT bill is due to be reported out by the House committee on labor for plenary deliberation. We expect the SOT bill to be just as controversial as the RH bill. This time, the Catholic Church will be an ally, rather than an antagonist, of women workers.

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The hotel maid’s case is not exactly the same but is almost similar to a Philippine Airlines (PAL) ground attendant’s complaint against an abusive politician. Drawing from her personal store of courage, PAL employee Sarah Bonnin-Ocampo chose to pursue a case against AVE Rep. Eulogio Magsaysay and once she did, despite the indifference of PAL, the Philippine Airline Employees’ Association was there to support her. If the hotel maid and Sarah were contractual workers, they would have simply suffered in silence.

In a context where anybody can be fired at will, a lowly worker victimized by a company client learns to be docile for the sake of her livelihood. Women empowerment cannot be divorced from labor rights, given the fact that half of the work force is female.

—JUDY ANN MIRANDA,
secretary general, Partido ng Manggagawa,
[email protected]

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TAGS: Dominique Strauss-Kahn, job security, Labor issues, labor unions, Philippine Airlines, Sarah Bonnin-Ocampo, Sofitel Hotel
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