Why are wages pressed down to starvation levels? Why is contractualization so rampant today? How could workers’ rights to decent wages, security of tenure, and to form unions be trampled upon with impunity?
Progressive workers say that a law, which was named after a former yellow labor leader and senator, Republic Act 6715 or the Herrera Law laid the basis for these virulent attacks on labor rights.
Why Workers Abhor Assumption of Jurisdiction (AJ) orders
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had barely warmed her seat in Malacañang when her administration significantly increased the use of assumption of jurisdiction (AJ) orders to quell workers’ strikes. From 2002 to 2003, AJ orders emanating from her labor secretary increased three-fold. In this decade, the years 2003 to 2005 saw the highest number of labor disputes muzzled with AJ orders.
In fact, from 2003 up to present, the Arroyo administration never gave workers a chance to win strikes. The number of AJ orders issued by her labor department always exceeded the number of actual strikes since 2003 up to present. (See table below). This suggests that during much of this decade, most if not all of the strikes launched in this country had been stopped by the government — the striking workers ordered to return to work with threats of layoff and criminal charges if they resisted — while more labor disputes had been prevented from blossoming into actual strikes. (Click here to read more)
After the Herrera Law Weakened Workers’ Rights, Another Labor Code Revision in the Offing?
Two decades after the Aquino government successfully rammed through the first major revision of the country’s Labor Code to the detriment of workers’ rights, the Employers’ Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) recently aired its desire to revise it anew. As with previous attempts to change the Labor Code, their stated reasons boil down to the ‘imperatives of creating jobs to improve the economy.’
Their announcement followed the first major public appearance of ex-Senator Ernesto Herrera, leader of the government-backed Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP). Herrera is the principal author of Republic Act 6715 of 1989, dubbed as the Herrera Law, the first major revision of the Labor Code, which was passed in 1974 during the Marcos dictatorship. It was followed a few weeks later by the “Wage Rationalization Act” or RA 6727, which provided for the creation of regional wage boards, composed of representatives of the government, corporations, and labor, for the purpose of determining wage increases. This, workers asserted, was meant to weaken the national unity and struggle of workers for legislated wage increases. (Click here to read more)