Tony Pascual of NAFLU-KMU warned all labor groups in the country to beware of the employers’ renewed calls for tripartism, a “loaded dice that seeks to favour the capitalists in every roll”.
By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA – A leader of a labor federation allied with the labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) criticized as “hypocritical and dangerous” the call of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines for “genuine tripartism.” This call was aired by ECOP in their 32nd national conference held shortly after Labor Day in a five-star hotel in Pasay City. Tony Pascual, secretary-general of National Federation of Labor Unions – Kilusang Mayo Uno (NAFLU-KMU), said that tripartism is actually a deceptive tool of the capitalist class against workers.
Tripartism is a three-way negotiation of representatives of employers, workers and the government to “settle” various issues.
“It (tripartism) is a loaded dice that seeks to favour the capitalists in every roll,” said Pascual. He challenged the employers’ group to just respect the democratic and union rights of their employees, and to stop calling for venues such as so-called tripartite meetings or formations, which “experiences show the employers have used only as opportunities for bullying the workers into submitting to intensified exploitation while deceptively dressing up the same tripartite meeting as a democratic exercise.”
Pascual added that if the employers’ group were really sincere in working for an “inclusive growth” and in respecting their employees’ rights, then “they should have urged its biggest multinational members to truly respect and adhere to their workers’ democratic rights. They should have condemned rather than awarded the biggest labor rights violators such as Dole Philippines, Nestle and SM.”
Pascual said that the biggest employers in the Philippines already have the ears and whatever parts of the government they need to advance their quest for profits. He said it clearly shows in the workers’ years-long demand for substantial wage hike which the government and the employers have been strongly and similarly opposing like in a duet, through the regional tripartite wage boards and through the media.
The labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) also has a standing invitation to President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino to debate with labor the merits of the legislated P125 wage hike. In the recent national conference of ECOP, employers criticized the P125 wage hike bill as counter-productive if “not linked with productivity.” They did not reply, however, to computations made by non-government Ibon, using government data, that “The total cost of the proposed wage hike will only be Php135.6 billion which, subtracted from total profits, will still leave establishments with Php759.6 billion in profits. This is only a 15.1% cut in their profits.” ()
Tripartism means trade union repression?
Pascual warned all labor groups in the country to beware of the employers’ renewed calls for tripartism. Aside from its being a deceptive tool against workers, Pascual added that gauging by what ECOP considers as top models of industrial peace and tripartism, it seems that ECOP is also giving prizes for trade union repression.
The Dolefil management, ECOP’s latest grand Kapatid Awardee, “has had a long history of trade union repression, coercion, trade union rights violations and health and safety infringements in the workplace,” said Tony Pascual. As such, “awarding this company and its current union for industrial peace gives a worrying signal that it is okay for employers to violate their workers’ rights, so long as a union supported by the management would opt to ignore it,” Pascual explained.
(See related story: Arm-twisting in Dolefil)
ECOP also cited the multinational Nestle and the biggest mall chain SM. Nestle had been accused of masterminding the murders of two succeeding union presidents in the thick of a collective bargaining struggle with the company. SM, meanwhile, has been dubbed as the “contractual king” among employers as its mall chains reportedly employ more lower-paid contractual employees than regular, unionized ones. In past workers’ strike launched by an SM union, SM has been known also to deploy a large number of “blue guards” and use violence as well as sexual harassment on the predominantly female strikers.
At least, based on records, SM has not yet equalled the bloody force used by Nestle Philippines to subdue its workers’ strike. But KMU organizers said that while in Nestle the gates were decked out like a military garrison at the height of its workers’ strike, in SM malls the employers drowned out the programs of its employees by cranking up the volume of huge sound systems they installed beside the picket-lines at the entrances and exits of SM malls.