Class Struggle in the Philippines

Trade union leader speaks in Vancouver and Toronto – Published on The Bulldet, by Roger Annis, August 9, 2012.

On August 2, Pete Pinlac of the MAKABAYAN labour and political center in the Philippines spoke at a public forum hosted by the Vancouver and District Labour Council (VDLC). It was an extremely informative and inspiring event that reflected years of crucially important solidarity outreach by the Labour Council that began in 2008.  

As explained at the forum by former VDLC President Bill Saunders, in 2008, the labour group organized a delegation of union activists to visit the Philippines and learn about its militant and embattled trade union movement. The delegation returned inspired by all that it learned. It resolved to do something in support of the workers and activists they met. The result has been a rich and rewarding relationship.

Rally for the union drive at Hanjin Shipyard.

Pinlac is a leader of the Movement for National Democracy (KPD) and its trade union wing, MAKABAYAN. He is on a speaking tour to Vancouver and Toronto, Canada hosted by the trade union movement and the progressive Filipino community.

Economic Crisis Spreads: … //

… Sub-Contracting:

In the telecommunications industry, where companies such as Canada’s Telus operate call center activity and where manufacturers locate assembly work, bosses face pressure of possible unionization and so the daily wage is higher than the minimum, around $15-$16 per day. But only 6,550 of the 800,000 workers in the industry are unionized. Here, as in other industries, the use of ‘sub-contracting’ of labour hinders union organizing. The large, multinational corporations avoid their responsibilities as employers by denying that they are the ones actually hiring and paying workers.

Sub-contracting is a big issue at the Hanjin Shipyard on the northern tip of Subic Bay. The shipyard is the fourth or fifth largest in the world and employs 21,000 workers. The company tries to duck its responsibilities to its workers by conducting its hiring through a sham ‘third party.’ MAKABAYAN and other unions are engaged in a tough battle to organize the workers into a union. An application is presently before the labour relations agency of the federal government.

This year, a very encouraging step was taken by unions. Nagkaisa is an initiative that brings seven of the eight existing union centrals (not including the KMU) into one, coordinating body. Some 40 workers organizations are affiliated. The key issues for which Nagkaisa is fighting are higher wages, job security and against labour contracting. The formation of the group was celebrated at a large rally march in Manila on May Day.

Lessons Learned:

Pinlac reported that one of the lessons that the union movement in the Philippines has drawn from recent experience is the need to organize unions on an industry-wide basis. To that end, MAKABAYAN formed the Communication Workers of the Philippines to focus on that industry. It has 6,850 members … (full text).

Comments are closed.