CEBU City, Sept. 15, 2011—Church people and workers called on government to put an end to exploitative working conditions and create just labor policies that give workers their right to security and decent living.
In a conference held by Church People and Workers Solidarity in Cebu City on Sept. 12-15, church people and labor leaders threshed out through a series of testimonies and workshops the problems of unjust labor policies in the country.
Participants came out with a statement at the conclusion of the four-day convention stressing four primary concerns of Filipino workers—contractualization, unjust wages, the violation of workers’ right to organize and migration of Filipino workers.
“Ignoring its inherent immorality, the legalization of contractualization allows capital to violate the workers’ basic right to security. Regular employees are now terminated summarily and then coerced to re-apply as contractual laborers together with new applicants, in total disregard of their many years of service,” partly read the conference statement which participants formulated at the end of the four-day convention.
The group decried the practice of contractualization which “deprives workers of the benefits of tenure and prevents them from organizing themselves into legitimate labor unions.”
They said the system is identical to a “modern version of slavery, with contracting agencies simply replacing the slave traders of old.”
Highlighted with excerpts from Catholic Church’s social teachings, the statement also denounced the practice of certain companies to ask workers “to sign vouchers certifying that they are paid the minimum legal wage, when in fact, they have received less, under the threat of termination.”
It also criticized the present government’s anti-labor policies citing its pro-capital stance as in the case of PAL vs. PALEA labor dispute.
The statement likewise noted that both past and incumbent administrations have done nothing much but to encourage more the continuous outflow of migrant workers because of lack of domestic opportunities.
“Focused on increasing the remittances to prop up a failing economy, the government has put in place exploitative labor policies to avoid facing up to the basic need of generating employment for its citizens. The social cost of forced migration to Philippine society is equally staggering,” it further read.
Among other things, the statement also recommended the establishment of the Church People and Workers Solidarity “as a permanent organization to serve as an instrument to assist workers in their struggle for dignity and rightful recognition as partners in the pursuit of peace and progress in the country; to task current convenors to serve as the transitional leadership body charged with defining and establishing the needed organizational structures for the new group; and to mandate the transitional leadership group to formulate and develop programs and services that the CWS would undertake in behalf of workers.”
CWS Convenor and Jaro Auxiliary Bishop Gerardo Alminaza read the statement on Sept. 15, together with some representatives from Religious women and labor leaders during the closing Eucharistic celebration led by Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral.
The church people and workers conference was convened in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s encyclical on Human Work (Laborem Exercens). (CBCPNews)