PPP in the water sector: government-inflicted
drought to the people
Labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) condemned the newly implemented water
rate hike, describing it as glaring anti-people consequence of
Public-Private Partnership (PPP) which the Aquino regime is now eagerly
pushing in various economic sectors to allow big corporations rake in
Starting January 1, Manila Water Company and MayniladWater Services
Incorporated began implementing higher rates. Manila Water customers using
30 cubic meters will see their monthly bill go up by P19.52 (from P588.80
to P608.32) while Maynilad customers will see their bill increase by
P58.16 (from P744.26 to P802.42). The increases are the third installment
in the adjustments in basic tariff and consumer price index approved in
2008 as part of the privatization contract between the MWSS and the
“With added P19.52 to P58.16 to the monthly basic expenses of a common
worker, alongside the skyrocketing prices of oil and other basic products,
without sustainable work and living wage at hand, both our family’s
throats and pockets are being wrung dry,” said Roger Soluta, KMU
KMU noted that the latest water rate hike continues the barrage of rate
hikes which have burdened poor Filipinos in the metro since the government
entered into PPP arrangements with Maynilad and Manila Water for the
provision of water services in the 1990s.
Bayan said that today, the basic charge for water services in Metro Manila
has already soared by as much 1,000% since the privatization in 1997.
According to KMU, PPP is a conspiracy between the Aquino government and
big private corporations, most of which, foreign. Through PPP, the
government passes its responsibility to provide social services and
utilities to the private corporations, which in turn makes good business
out of it.
It said that as workers and people are experiencing deeper hunger and
poverty because of very high prices while their incomes remain stagnant,
big private corporations are raking in millions of profits.
Data also shows that from January to September 2011, Manila Water’s net
income grew by 5 percent to P3.1 billion from P2.98 billion in the same
period of 2010, and its core net income rose by 13percent to P3.3 billion
from P2.97 billion in 2010. Maynilad’s core net income, on the other hand,
stood at P4.49 billion in 2011, compared to P3.54 billion recorded in the
same period of 2010.
"Aquino has only been continuing the past economic policies of his
predecessors –privatization, deregulation and liberalization – which are
dictates of international banks and big foreign and local corporations,"
On January 2, new round of oil price hikes were also implemented by the
Reference Person: Roger Soluta, KMU secretary-general
Campaign: Kabuhayan at Katarungang Panlipunan, Ipaglaban!
Contact information: 0928-7215313
Workers imprisoned for exercise of union rights
PUBLISHED ON NOVEMBER 25, 2011
Who says lady justice is blindfolded and does not favor anyone? While
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo remains “detained” at the St. Luke’s Hospital, two
Karnation workers died in jail and 18 were imprisoned for three years for
having conducted a strike.
By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA – Who is the biggest criminal of them all?
Former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo can grow more ill and burrow
deeper into a luxurious hospital arrest while public pressure mounts to
charge her for electoral fraud, plunder and gross human rights violations.
But the working people, if charged in court even with trumped up charges,
face immediate arrest and years of imprisonment, difficulties in getting
court approval for bail and in mustering enough money for it, and
continued threat of imprisonment while their case drags on in court for
alleged acts committed during a labor dispute that have also been
“criminalized.” This, at least, is the example provided by the ongoing
saga of the “Karnation 20” workers, based on the appeals for help aired on
their behalf by the non-government Center for Trade Union and Human Rights
As if these were not horrible enough, the labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno
railed this week against the call of the Employers’ Confederation of the
Philippine (ECOP) to decriminalize employers’ violations of minimum wage
laws. The labor group describes this as “clearly callous and anti-worker.”
In an interview with BusinessMirror last week, ECOP president Edgardo
Lacson opposed bills in the House of Representatives seeking to legislate
a longer prison term for employers who violate the country’s wage laws,
saying the government should do the opposite and decriminalize such
violations. Lacson was reacting to House Bills 942, 1817, 1889, and 2884
authored by Reps. Reynaldo Umali, Emmeline Aglipay, Ben Evardone and
Joseph Victor Ejercito, respectively, which seek to extend the penalty of
two-year imprisonment to four years for such crimes.
Non-payment of minimum wages in the Philippines is one of the most rampant
and persistent violations committed by employers based on the labor
department’s survey. But few, if any employer on record, had been jailed
Strikers’ plea for freedom and support
This week the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) restarted
seeking public support for the campaign of the “Karnation 20,” a group of
workers arrested and jailed after they went on strike while employed at
Karnation Industries Inc (Pansy Accessories), a maker of home decor and
accessories. The workers went on strike complaining about illegal
dismissal, below-minimum salaries and benefits.
For three years since 2007 the Karnation 20 had been squeezed in a tiny
prison cell where forty to fifty inmates “had to fit in a 50 to 60 square
meter cell”. Fifteen got out only in December of 2009, and the last three
only in May of 2010, after they were allowed at last to post bail, which
they reportedly struggled just to be able to hand over to the court.
The other two strikers had died while in prison.
With “no space for everyone to sleep at the same time” in prison, the
workers contracted various illnesses. Melvic Lupe and Leo Paro died in
2008 and 2009, respectively, due to tuberculosis and complications. The
rest exhibited symptoms of beriberi, tuberculosis, skin diseases and
malnutrition shortly before they tasted temporary freedom. In jail, they
were reportedly fed little and at times, even late.
On paper, the workers’ alleged crime is “serious illegal detention.” Their
employers accused them of having padlocked the gates of the factory
premises when they went on strike on May 2, 2007. The workers claimed,
however, that they left the gates open, thus allowing the company to
continue its operations and allow vehicles, employers and residents to
enter or exit the factory’s compound.
In having granted them bail, the court has upheld the arguments of lawyer
Remigio Saladero, the workers’ counsel, that “the evidence of guilt is not
strong.” Saladero noted that the witness presented did not actually see
the accused workers putting the chains on the gate.
Last October however, the Regional Trial Court in Morong, Rizal, under
Presiding Judge Sheila Marie A. Ignacio, decided in favour of the
employers’ demand to increase the workers’ bail by another P20,000 ($462).
The court gave the strikers until Dec 31 this year to post the additional
bail. Failure to pay on time will mean another warrant of arrest and
imprisonment “of the falsely charged workers,” the CTUHR said.
The court decision flies in the face of Karnation’s still-unimplemented
labor department decision, released only last March although penned on
September last year. Karnation Industries was found guilty of illegal
dismissal of its workers and ordered to reinstate them “without loss of
seniority rights,” and to pay them their “full back wages” amounting to
P1.18 million ($27 thousand) from March to November last year.
The CTUHR expressed worries since last year that the company may still
evade the decision as it has only held Karnation Industries and not the
individual proprietors accountable.
“The owners, Mr. and Mrs. Willy Sia, were not made liable by the decision
supposedly because of lack of employer-employee relationship. Without any
specific individual being held accountable in this case, the workers may
still end up with nothing because Karnation has already changed its name
and there is no one to implement the decision,” said the CTUHR.
As the Karnation workers’ saga continues to unfold, they may not only end
up with nothing, they would have to cough up an additional P20,000 ($465)
before New Year or risk another arrest and imprisonment.
The workers told CTUHR that with an unresolved criminal case clouding
their record, they find it hard to get another job. Those who got employed
in construction projects, which are not regular jobs, are already
considered as “lucky,” the CTUHR said.
Some of the Karnation workers have also been reportedly forced to accept
jobs with very little pay. Polido Bagono or Boyet for example, works as a
security guard for a construction site for only P150 ($3.47), for almost
24 hours at the building.
“The ILO has already recommended in March 2010 to the Government of the
Philippines the dismissal of criminal charges filed against Karnation 20,
once it is settled that the charges were a result of their exercise of
union rights,” said Sapigao, program coordinator of CTUHR at the time. She
reiterated their call for “an immediate and expeditious resolution of this
case”, which is stronger now given the recommendation of the International
KMU slams capitalists’ unity vs. PAL workers
PUBLISHED ON NOVEMBER 5, 2011
Nov 5, 2011
MANILA — Labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) condemned today business
groups’ statement of support for the Philippine Airlines management whose
treatment of an ongoing labor dispute hasreportedly turned violent last
week. “The employers’ groups are overreacting to so-called illegal acts
committed by PAL workers to hide from view the PAL management’s long
record of abuses against workers,” said the KMU in a statement.
Business groups Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI),
Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI) and Federation of
Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FFCCCI) recently
released statements calling on the Aquino government to “enforce the law”
on PAL premises, where retrenched workers are holding a picket to protest
layoff and contractualization.
“What about Lucio Tan’s long record of abuses against the workers of PAL?
The leaders of the three business groups are making noise about PAL
workers’ alleged illegal acts while keeping silent on the PAL management’s
long list of anti-worker policies,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU
“As workers who champion strikes as workers’ potent weapon against
capitalists, we have repeatedly seen capitalists fabricate stories of
workers’ so-called illegal acts to call on the government to suppress our
ranks. We believe that this is what’s happening in PAL right now,” he
KMU said the business groups have through the years kept silent on the PAL
management’s fire-and-rehire scheme when this was implemented on PAL’s
pilots, flight attendants and ground employees.
“We vehemently condemn this call for nothing less than outright repression
against the workers of PAL. We have serious reservations about the
leadership of the PAL workers’ union but we stand firmly with the workers
of PAL in their fight against massive layoff, contractualization and
repression,” Labog said.
Irresponsible business elites
“The business groups’ statements display how irresponsible the country’s
big capitalists, who lead these business groups, really are. They are
imbued with a profit-first, me-first attitude that is detrimental to the
country’s workers and poor people,” Labog said.
The labor center said the country’s biggest capitalists have pressed down
workers’ wages and promoted contractual employment schemes.
“It is capitalist greed which is the target of the Occupy protests in the
US. In the coming weeks, we will continue with our protests against the
greed of big capitalists in the country, which has worsened hunger and
poverty here,” Labog said.
“We are calling on the workers and poor people to rise up for a
significant wage hike and for the junking of contractual employment
schemes. We simply cannot rely on capitalists to at least show some
compassion for us,” he added.