NYCHRP Condemns Unlawful Dispersal and Arrest of NutriAsia Workers, their Family Members, and Journalists

August 1, 2018

Reference: Rodrigo Bacus, Chairperson, New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), nychrp@gmail.com

NYCHRP Condemns Unlawful Dispersal and Arrest of NutriAsia Workers, their Family Members, and Journalists

nutriasia nychrp

Marilao, Bulacan — The Philippine National Police and over 100 private security personnel violently dispersed 300 Nutriasia workers, their families, and supporters while an ecumenial mass was held at the picket line. Many of the 300 were injured and/or arrested while many more remain missing. The police and security personnel then proceeded to destroy the personal belongings of the workers and the picket line that the workers built.

NutriAsia workers have set up a picket outside the Marilao plant since June 2, 2018. The primary demand of the workers, led by labor organization Nagkakaisang Manggagawa ng Nutriasia (United Workers of Nutriasia, NMN), is to end contractualization and regularize workers. In the Philippines, a majority of workers are trapped in a loop of contractual work where workers are fired every four to six month cycles. As a result, workers are left out of work. Workers were also protesting the unjust termination of workers after they formed a union, along with the subsequent illegal dismissal of 50 more workers after the latter showed support for those who were initially terminated.

The picket line was previously harassed and violently dispersed on June 14, after hundreds of policemen and company security personnel forcibly removed makeshift camps, physically assaulted workers and drove them out of the area.

In February this year, the Department of Labor Enforcement (DOLE) had already ordered NutriAsia to regularize over 900 workers after concluding that the company is engaging in labor-only contracting practices. The Department also reported that NutriAsia is violating labor laws and general labor standards, including illegal deduction for workers’ uniforms and underpayment of basic wages.

“The violent dispersal of the workers is a violation of their right to assembly and their right to form and join unions. Moreover, the police engaged in arbitrary arrests and detentions when they took 19 people in the area to jail without actual evidence of charges against them. The Philippines has been a signatory to the International Convention of Civil and Political Rights since 1986. The Government of the Republic of the Philippines is also a signatory to the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) since 1998. The actions of the Philippine National Police are clearly in contravention of the spirit of these human rights documents and the Philippine government needs to be held accountable for these violations,” said Rodrigo Bacus, Chairperson of New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP).

“We see this attack on workers as a blatant attack on our people and our ancestors. We will counter the attacks by police forces protecting exploitative corporations that are stealing people’s land and committing human rights abuses by any means necessary. We never hesitate to defend the rights of workers and the rights to land for our present and future generations. At the end of the day, these are rights that will not truly be upheld by any court or institution. They are human rights upheld by the people who call for liberation across the globe. Only when our people are liberated and only through workers struggle will human rights truly be sustained,” added Lauren Quijano of NYCHRP.

Journalists Hiyasmin Saturay and Eric Tandoc of Altermidya were among the people arrested by the Philippine National Police. They are currently still in jail despite a release order declaring that there was not enough evidence to hold them. The NutriAsia 19, as the arrestees have been called, were held for over 36 hours without charges and an unexecuted release order.

NYCHRP urgently requests that all organizations of workers including, unionized workers and those currently fighting for unionization, to join in calling attention to this workers strike. We ask for workers to show solidarity with Filipino workers by writing public statements of support that amplify the call to action to boycott all NutriAsia products and to seek justice and accountability for all those arrested at the NutriAsia picket line.

NYCHRP recognizes that when workers organize, they win and sees the courage and persistent struggle of B&H workers, laundry workers, nail salon workers, fast food workers, cab drivers who have organized and gone on strike all over New York City. We call for the end of the Trump-backed Duterte regime’s union repression and union-busting tactics. We demand NutriAsia immediately comply with the demands of the workers including regularizing the entire workforce, providing safe and healthy working conditions, providing a livable wage, and upholding their right to unionize.

If you would like to become a member of NYCHRP or another partner organization or to host an educational session about the NutriAsia strike with your organization, please contact nychrp@gmail.com. The educational session will be for workers to learn about current boycott efforts, and how to get involved in upcoming actions with Filipino migrant workers in solidarity.

SIGN THE PETITION TO SUPPORT NUTRIASIA WORKERS:  https://goo.gl/forms/sFQ4XsCVXgErDMe13

NutriAsia Donation (2)

NYCHRP Demands Human Rights Protection for All Human Lives at 2018 People’s SONA rally in New York City

Reference: Louie Sawi, Mass Campaigns Chair, New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), nychrp@gmail.com

NYCHRP Demands Human Rights Protection for All Human Lives at 2018 People’s SONA rally in New York City

NYCHRP at SONA 2018

Human lives cannot survive without having concern for their human rights. Since Duterte took office, he has failed to ensure the safety and well-being of the Filipino people.

After he launched his  “war on drugs,” over 20,000, poor urban dwellers, including children, have been murdered by the hands of the Philippine National Police and its agents. According to an investigation by Human Rights Watch, police planted guns, used ammunition, and drug packets on victims’ bodies to incriminate them in drug activities. Masked gunmen participating in the killings appeared to be collaborating with with police, refuting government claims that most killings have been committed by vigilantes or rival drug gangs.

Opposition to Duterte’s War on Drugs in the Philippines has led to the imprisonment of 509 political dissidents, critics, and human rights defenders. Even faith based leaders, organizers, and international peacekeepers are not immune to Duterte’s atrocious policies. A month ago, Methodist Church Missionaries Tawanda Chandiwana, Miracle Osman, and Adam Shaw were detained and interrogated by the police while participating in an international peace mission. After 27 years of missionary work in the Philippines, Australian nun Sister Patricia Fox was ordered by the Bureau of Immigration for deportation. Fathers Rey Urmeneta, Mark Ventura, and Marcelito Paez were murdered for speaking out against Duterte’s extrajudicial killings.

Duterte’s amped up anti-people campaign has recently veered to the absurd. The government’s newest policy, Oplan Tambay, demonizes marginalized youth and criminalizes those hanging out in their neighborhood. It has led to more than 50,000 accosted, arrested and detained in city jails. For example, on June 29, urban poor activist Nicolas Minguito was arrested in Olango Island for eating halo-halo outside his house.

Martial Law in Mindanao continues to violate the human rights of its community members. Seven days ago, 1,607 Lumad members from the region of Surigao del Sur, Caraga were displaced from their ancestral lands after a series of abuses inflicted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines. After over a year of its implementation, Karapatan, a national human rights organization led directly by impacted people in the Philippines, documented that Martial Law has led to 49 extrajudicial killings; 9,738 threats, harassment, or intimidation; 336,124 indiscriminate firing and bombings, 404,654 forced evacuations; and 979 forced surrenders in the region.

People have the right to be free from these civil and political rights violations, but are also enshrined with the right to stand up against oppressive governments and systems. The people that President Duterte is repressing are folks that are fighting fundamentally to assert their basic social and economic rights. Basic labor rights are being violated as Philippine local companies Sumifru, Shin Shun, and Coca-Cola harass their workers through union-busting, terrorist tagging, and employing state security forces to violently break-up their peaceful protests for safer working conditions and access to affordable health care.

The government’s policy of contractualization offers no income stability for temporary work. It’s inhumane for companies like Jollibee, NutriAsia, and DOLE to terminate the service of the workers after only a year or a few months on the job. The scarcity of white and blue collar jobs in the city force some community members to seek work in these call centers and export processing zones for multinational corporations, where they labor overtime with little sleep and little pay. Approval of a recent fare hike by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board won’t be enough to help workers afford to pay rent, feed their children, or send them to school, especially as the costs of basic goods and services – such as food, transportation, electricity, and water – increase due to rising inflation. Raising wages can improve workers’ lives; however, the government has failed to pass national minimum wage bills such as House Bill 7787 and other proposed legislation that increases the wages.

With the recent appointment of former President Gloria Arroyo into the Speaker of the House position, we know Duterte does not care for the interests of the people. That is why, we must fight. We must support our kababayans back home, in every way we can, to oust Duterte and his entire government out of office. We must replace that with National industrialization, genuine land reform, sovereignty and non-interference from oppressive/western powers like the US, and elect a government that supports scientific understanding of people’s conditions in order to uphold the rights of women, indigenous people, and national minorities.

More importantly, we must do our part, living in the belly of the beast, to stop the US from supporting the human rights abuses and fascism of the Duterte regime.

#StoptheKillingsPH

#EndContractualization

#NotoMartialLaw

#OustDuterte

#PeoplesSONA2018

NYCHRP Supports the Striking Workers of NutriAsia, Jollibee, and PLDT; Calls for the Regularization of Workers and an Increase to the National Minimum Wage

July 6, 2018

Reference: Rodrigo Bacus, Chairperson, New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), nychrp@gmail.com

NYCHRP Supports the Striking Workers of NutriAsia,  Jollibee, and PLDT; Calls for the Regularization of Workers and an Increase to the National Minimum Wage

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Infographic from Kilusang Mayo Uno

July 3, 2018, the workers of NutriAsia, allied under Nagkakaisang Manggagawa ng NutriAsia (United Workers of NutriAsia, NMN), called out an urgent alert as the Philippine National Police prepared to carry out a dispersal order from the Philippine government. The dispersal order comes in the wake of attacks on workers all over the Philippines, including an order from Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT), one of the largest telecommunications companies in the Philippines, to end its subcontractors, placing many workers in a limbo status. NYCHRP supports the undeterred spirit of the workers to struggle for better conditions, and support their calls for the end to contractualization (the practice of laying off workers every 4 to 6 months), a raise in minimum wage, and a genuinely free Philippines.

According to a Department of Labor report in May of 2018, Jollibee Foods Corporation and PLDT are ranked #1 and #3 with 14,960 workers and 8,310 workers affected. These estimates may even be undercounting the overall number of contractual workers considering that it counts the numbers by legal entity, as opposed to looking at the network of corporations associated with a particular brand. The same report counts DOLE Philippines, Inc. as #2 with 10,521 workers affected while DOLE-Stanfilco, a clear subsidiary or affiliate of DOLE, is ranked 20th with 1,131 workers affected.

Attempting to take advantage of the loopholes left behind by the Department of Labor and President Duterte’s claim to end contractualization, PLDT severed ties with many of its subcontractors, laying off 7,000 workers. Just a few months ago, NutriAsia similarly laid off many of its workers as their short-term contracts ended. The same fate occurred to workers of Jollibee in this same span of time.

Article 6 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) recognizes the right of each individual to work. Article 7 protects their right just and favorable conditions of work, including a decent living for workers and their families. The contractualization of Filipino workers and the widespread wage rates of under $10 a day violate the spirit of these protections. In the Philippines, commodity prices are increasing while wages remain stagnant. As a result, many Filipino workers are forced to leave their communities and families behind. Moreover, about three-quarters of the country are farm workers or peasants, people obligated to big landlords to do labor and, in some cases, pay off debt. Contractualization, low wages, and the semi-feudal, semi-colonial economy of the Philippines are fundamental violations of the people’s rights.

NYCHRP supports the leadership of workers to form workers organizations and fight against these conditions and the continued neo-colonization of the Philippines. NMN, PLDT Organization of Workers and Employees for Rights (POWER), Defend Job Philippines, and Kilusang Mayo Uno (May First Movement, KMU) are among the many organizations of workers leading worker strikes, worker occupations, and demonstrations across the country. We condemn the government’s response to these strikes by calling dispersals. We affirm that the workers are well within their rights to organize and form trade unions.

NYCHRP also supports the call for a genuine democracy in the Philippines, where workers and all peoples determine and uphold the rights to quality of life, land, and opportunity. Until the conditions of imperialism, bureaucrat capitalism, and semi-feudalism in the Philippines are abolished, the Philippines will not truly be free.

 

End Contractualization!

P750 Minimum Wage!

National Industrialization and Agrarian Reform for All!