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Article

4 Jan 2021

Author:
Partido Manggagawa

Philippines: Workers were left fighting for rights amid rollbacks from govt. & employers during the pandemic in 2020

"Labor Yearender: Workers are in the frontlines of a fight against the pandemic of rights violations", 29 December 2020

...The severe lockdown shuttered the economy, and left workers and the poor without jobs and livelihood for months on end. The aid provided by the government reached only 3 million households out of 16 million Filipinos who were temporarily jobless during the lockdown....

To make matters worse, employers used the pandemic as an opportunity to deny workers their benefits and their rights. Workers were put on floating status for more than the six months allowed by law. Establishments reopened but replaced regular workers with new hires on endo status. Some employers shutdown their firms without paying workers separation and other benefits. Capitalist Grinches are exploiting the pandemic to bust unions as shown by the experience of the Arcya Glass Employees Union in Laguna and the First Glory labor union in the Mactan ecozone... [T]he Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)... released a series of orders and advisories that denigrated labor standards and rights... Labor groups called on the DOLE to dialogue but were repeatedly denied. Meanwhile the government banned protests and arrested those who tried using the pandemic as an alibi...

But workers are fighting back and are in the frontlines of the struggle to reclaim their rights. The Arcya Glass workers spent their holidays in the picketlines to protest the continued operation of the factory despite allegedly being permanently closed. The First Glory labor union has voted to go on strike to demand the reinstatement of 300 fired workers. Labor groups in the Philippines together with international union federations have formed the Caucus of Global Unions Pilipinas to call for the repeal of the Anti-Terror Law on pain of the country losing its trade privileges with Europe. Workers in four big factories in the Mactan ecozone have organized into unions as a result of recent grievances over lack of aid during the pandemic and long-running issues over wages and benefits. Certifications elections are due to be held next year in the four firms. We predict that 2021 will see a resurgence of workers’ actions to defend democratic freedoms and labor rights.

Part of the following timelines

Philippines: J.Crew gets First Glory factory to agree to hold union elections following accusations of union-busting after layoff of 300 garment workers & union president

Philippines: Workers accuse Arcya Glass factory of discriminatory dismissals and anti-union practices amid COVID-19 pandemic