Photo by KMU

Workers of Champion detergent company and multinational banana corporation Sumifru, both on strike due to unfair labor practices, held a protest action at the DOLE on Thursday morning to present the true state of Filipino workers under three years of the Duterte administration.

“The workers are here to show the true state of labor under Duterte. Three years into his presidency, Duterte has not only failed to fulfill his promise to workers to end contractualization, he has failed to raise wages or protect workers from unsafe working conditions,” said Elmer Labog, chairperson of the militant trade union center Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU).

The Champion and Sumifru workers’ unions are both affiliated with KMU. They are protesting the illegal termination of union members, the continued implementation of labor-only contracting (LOC), and unsafe working conditions, among other gross violations of labor rights and laws.

“Instead of regularization, Duterte’s failed promise led to mass termination of contractuals. Workers have exhausted all legal processes under Department Order 174 and Executive Order 51 to assert their status as regulars, yet the inhumane and anti-worker practice of contractualization remains,” said Labog. 

For instance, the Champion workers had gone through the proper legal channels, with an inspection of the company finding that the company was guilty of LOC. But DOLE reversed the results. When the workers legally formed a union, the Champion management engaged in union-busting and fired the union members.

Labog added, “The government connives with capitalists in ensuring that workers remain contractuals, while those who fight for their rights as regular workers to unionize, collective bargaining and to strike, have been terminated and brutally attacked.” He pointed to the recent violent dispersal of the Champion workers’ strike last June 28.

KMU announced that thousands of workers from different labor centers under the banner of the “United Workers’ SONA” will march on July 22 to condemn Duterte’s anti-worker government and assert their demands for regular jobs, living wages, and respect for labor and human rights.

Elmer Labog, chairperson

The Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) is an independent labour center promoting genuine, militant and patriotic trade unionism. It is genuine because it recognizes the struggle between labor and capital and upholds the legitimate interests of the working class; militant because it relies on the workers collective struggle in defending trade union and democratic rights; and patriotic because it seeks to end imperialist domination and control over the Philippines.