Filipino Workers in Japanese Firms Oppose JPEPA

Filipino workers in Japanese firms based in Southern Tagalog oppose the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA). They shared their stories of struggle against what they deem as “greed for profit of Japanese investors at the expense of labor.”

BY EMILY VITAL
Bulatlat
Vol. VII, No. 40, November 11-17, 2007

Filipino workers in Japanese firms based in Southern Tagalog oppose the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA). They shared their stories of struggle against what they deem as “greed for profit of Japanese investors at the expense of labor.”

Ed Cubelo, president of Toyota Motor Philippines Corporation Workers Association (TMPCWA), said in the launching of No Deal! JPEPA last Nov. 9, “Ang mga manggagawang Pilipino ay nakakaranas ng matinding hambalos sa kamay ng mga kapitalistang Hapon.” (Filipino workers suffer from severe attacks in the hands of Japanese corporations.)

Japanese firms

Cubelo said that the rate of poverty in Region IV-A, also known as the Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon provinces), has increased over the years since Japanese corporations came in.

According to a study by Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan (Pamantik-Unity of Workers in Southern Tagalog), 171 of the 984 Japanese investments are located in Calabarzon. Most are automobile and parts manufacturing firms like Toyota, Mitsubishi, Isuzu, Honda and others. Japanese capital also dominates the electronics sector. The most popular ones are Fujitsu, Matsushita, Toshiba and TDK. These corporations are located in 57 industrial enclaves in Calabarzon.

Labor repression

Cubelo cited cases of union-busting, harassment and other trade union rights violations. He said that all of the workers in Soutech company were illegally terminated; fifty-four workers were retrenched in Masuda to preempt the formation of a union, one died after working for 32 straight hours; women workers in Sun Ever Lights, an electronics company in Laguna Technopark, were sexually harassed by company guards and police elements during one of their protest actions.

Cubelo said that Toyota workers suffered the most. He said that it took them15 years to form a union. Cubelo related, “When we finally succeeded, the Toyota management illegally dismissed 300 workers.”

Cubelo said that the previous two decisions of the Supreme Court (SC) regarding their case were favorable to the workers but the management did not implement the SC decision. “Tatlong beses din nilang binalewala ang imbestigasyong ipinatawag ng Kongreso. Tingin nila mas makapangyarihan sila kaysa sa batas ng Pilipinas.” (The Toyota management also ignored three times the summons of Congress to attend investigations. They think they are more powerful than the laws of our country.)

Workers of Nissan Motors Philippines experienced the same treatment from their Japanese employers. The Nissan management refuses to enforce the SC ruling which favored the workers. On Sept. 5, striking workers were violently dispersed by security guards and policemen during a protest in front of the company gates in Santa Rosa, Laguna.

The Pamantik paper titled, “Calabarzon workers and the imminent danger posed by JPEPA,” also cited the three assassination plots to silence the workers in Yazaki-EMI in Cavite. On December 11, 2006, Jesus Buth Servida just came out from Gate 2 of EMI-Yazaki when motorcycle-riding men fired at him.

Pamantik also reported rampant cases of contractualization, dismissal, union busting, harassment and violent dispersal experienced by workers in Aichi Forging, Honda Cars, Enkei, Nikko Materials, Toshiba, Nippon Paints, Daiwa-Seiko, FCC, Keihin, Uniden, National Panasonic (Matsushita), Yutakam Fujitsu Ten, Imasen, Isuzu, Chiyoda, Gunman Gohkin, Yazaki-Torres and others.

JPEPA

In their study, Pamantik stated, “The JPEPA assumes maximum advantage for Japanese investments in the Philippines. The JPEPA aims to penetrate and remove the remaining constraints in the entry and operation of Japanese investments in the Philippines.”

Under Article 139 or the Improvement of Business Environment of JPEPA, both parties will form a sub-committee to supervise and facilitate the favorable environment necessary for business and investment activities.

Pamantik asserted, “Whether it is the Department of Trade and Industry, Philippine Economic Zone Authority or another sub-committee, it will be partial to the interests of Japanese investors. With JPEPA, the Philippine government, PEZA or any sub-committee are expected to intensify attacks on the workers’ fundamental rights so as not to disappoint Japanese investors.”

Data from Organized Labor Association in Line Industries and Agriculture-Kilusang Mayo Uno (OLALIA-KMU) revealed that as of June this year, that there are 459 labor cases from Southern Tagalog pending at the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC). Of these, 25 were resolved with 19 in favor of the employers.

Cubelo said, “Ramdam na naming ngayon pa lang ang magiging epekto ng JPEPA. Ang panawagan, ‘No Deal! sa Japan.” (We are already experiencing the ill effects of JPEPA. Our call, ‘No deal with Japan!’) (Bulatlat.com)

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