Globalization continues to wreak havoc over the working class. The unfettered market forces it unleashed have resulted to a steep decline in the country’s industrial and agricultural sector, precipitating a massive unemployment crisis and widespread poverty. This is exacerbated by the widespread use and abuse of precarious forms of employment.
At the same time, labor rights are routinely violated as the country’s labor justice system remains slow and litigious, legitimized by martial law-crafted Labor Code with all its anti-worker and anti-union features. This dismal situation in the labor front, mixed with the government’s counter insurgency program, proved to be deadly for trade unionists, journalists and activists.
In this light, the different labor groups, coming from diverse ideological orientations, banded together under the Labor Agenda Coalition to promote and advance the policy of full employment, increased social protection, labor justice and strengthened protection of labor rights. Among its more important features are:
Secure and quality jobs: The workers’ constitutional right to security of tenure must be upheld as central government policy. All policies, including monetary, fiscal, trade and industrial policies, must be redirected towards the creation of secure and quality jobs for all. All our trade commitments, both the bilateral and multilateral, must be reviewed and renegotiated to ensure more equitable terms that would lead to development of a self-reliant economy and benefit the domestic labor force.
Improve labor justice system: The foremost need is to amend the Labor Code to dismantle all anti-labor provisions including procedural restrictions on the right to strike, free ingress/egress of company goods and personnel during strikes, limitations on the issues that are strikeable, and cumbersome union recognition procedures. The labor arbitration and adjudication system should be reformed towards streamlining and achieving full efficiency.
Strengthen trade union rights: The Assumption of Jurisdiction powers of the Secretary of Labor should be limited to those in the essential services as clearly defined by the ILO. Labor laws and policies particularly those that safeguard core labor standards, as well as the freedom of association and organization and the right to collective bargaining and strike, should be changed to comply with ILO conventions.
Uphold civil and political rights: Justice must be rendered to all victims of trade union and human rights violations. Victims must be indemnified while the perpetrators must be apprehended and punish.
Social and Economic Reforms: Fiscal policies should be reviewed and the automatic appropriations policy should be repealed to maximize budget allocation for public services, including the allocations for healthcare and education. A thoroughgoing agrarian reform must be implemented to pave the way for industrialization. The Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992 (UDHA) should be improved and implemented to facilitate and provide affordable if not free housing units to every family of workers and the urban and rural poor. An unemployment insurance system must be adopted after a careful study.
To ensure the implementation of labor’s priority agenda, workers must be represented in government bodies whose decisions affect the welfare of the working class.
The Labor Agenda Coalition calls on all workers to renew their commitment to the emancipation of the toiling people.