A livelihood project for women by the staff of a Philippine NGO has made it to the list of finalists in a UN Women-sponsored tilt in Singapore.
Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research’s (EILER) “Project Stitch”, a sewer’s cooperative project for women in Manila’s poor communities, was chosen by Project Inspire as one of the finalists in its “5 Minutes to Change the World” call for video entries. Project Inspire is sponsored by the Singapore Committee for UN Women and MasterCard. EILER’s Staff who entered in the competition is composed of Soleil Erika Manzano, Marian Santos, and Jose Maningat.
“We are very happy with the inclusion of Project Stitch in the list of finalists. By making it to the finals, we have already contributed to raising awareness on the plight of Filipino garment workers who carry the burden of raising their families amid limited economic opportunities,” said EILER Staff Team Representative for the Project Stitch, Soleil Erika Manzano.
Manzano said Project Stitch aims to aid Filipino women workers displaced from shutdown of several garment factories by organizing them in cooperatives and equipping them with entrepreneurial skills. The project also aims to enable the displaced women garment workers in empowering their fellow women in the poor communities by equipping them livelihood skills.
Last year, a Philippine project dubbed as “Hapinoy” won the grand prize in the search for innovative ideas on women empowerment and social change.
Aside from the grand prize, a People’s Choice Award will be given to the project with the most Facebook votes.
“We do hope another Philippine project will win again in the competition. In Facebook, we can help the project win by voting “Project Stitch” in Project Inspire’s Facebook account,” Manzano said.
Project Stitch page for voting: http://www.5minutestochangetheworld.org/get_involved_2012finalists_ProjectStitch.php
Project Inspire’s main page:
Real value of Filipino workers’ wages has been stuck at 1995 levels, a labor NGO pointed out today as it raised the need for Congress to abolish the current wage-fixing mechanism under regional wage boards.
Citing the data from the Bureau of Employment and Labor Statistics (BLES), Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER) said the latest index of compensation as of 2009 was 112.9, which is exactly the same as during 1995. The group said real value of wages stagnated even with wage orders issued by the regional wage boards.
The index of compensation is a measure of the real value of average wages and social security benefits received by wage and salary workers in a year. Data is released by BLES under the Yearbook of Labor Statistics.
“The fact that real value of workers’ compensation stagnated for 15 years despite pay increases clearly tells us that wage boards failed in its mandate to raise standards of living of Filipino workers. It also tells us that workers have long been denied of a significant wage increase,” said Anna Leah Escresa, EILER executive director.
The group also noted that worker’s compensation in 2009 was much lower compared to its value in 1989, the year when the regional wage boards were created under the RA 6727 or the Wage Rationalization Act.
Source: 2010 Yearbook of Labor Statistics, BLES-DOLE (View original table)
Escresa also urged labor groups to avoid falling into the trap of haggling a wage increase before regional wage boards “since the basic problem is the wage-fixing mechanism itself.”
“Based on its record, regional wage boards have granted increases not exceeding P26 since its inception in 1989. So directing calls for wage increase to wage boards is just like waiting for crumbs,” Escresa said.
“If labor groups really want significant increase that will cut across regions, then they should direct their demands to Congress. That would make sure that they won’t suffer the dismal offering of wage boards,” she added.
EILER strongly backs House Bill 375 filed by Anakpawis Party-list that calls for a P125-across-the-board nationwide wage increase.
The group rejected the P13 maximum wage hike proposed by the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP), saying it would not really be felt by workers.
“Wage boards have granted as much as P26 and yet real wages have remained stagnant. What more could P13 do especially with today’s nonstop price hikes?” Escresa said.
Bringing discussion of labor issues in workplaces gets more innovative as the Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER) released today educational comic series “Breaktime.”
“Breaktime” utilizes at least two talking avatars (or profile pictures) of workers to present and dissect issues on wage, employment and labor rights in a light way. The exchange of lines resemble the chat function of social networking sites.
The first release of the educational comics featured Ely and Lara, two fictional workers in a factory in Metro Manila discussing how wages are pressed down by the government and capitalist.
EILER said the plot will be developed in the next Breaktime series to touch on other labor issues such as contractualization, unionism, collective bargaining, among others.
The recent death of at least 10 workers in the Eton Residences construction site in Makati City should prompt the labor department to review and terminate existing subcontracting chains particularly in the construction sector, a labor NGO said today.
Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research, Inc. (EILER) said the tragedy exposed the lack of moral and legal responsibility of Eton Properties Philippines, Inc., the primary investor in the construction project, due to existing subcontracting arrangements.
“As we mourn for the death of 10 construction workers, we also lament that Eton can easily escape liability from the tragedy due to the subcontracting arrangements. Eton would be exonerated at the end of the ongoing probe initiated by the labor department since it can easily pass blame to its subcontractors,” said EILER executive director Anna Leah Escresa-Colina.
“We urge the Department of Labor and Employment to look not just on the health and safety compliance of the construction project but also on the subcontracting schemes that Eton employs for the project,” she added.
Escresa-Colina noted that big construction investors, like Lucio Tan-owned Eton Properties, normally tap a web of subcontractors which employ contractual workers for specific parts of a construction project to minimize labor cost, since subcontractors generally pay lower wages.
She cited the case of those who died from the Eton tragedy are earning only P260 a day, or way below the P404 approved minimum wage in the National Capital Region.
“What we see from the tragedy is that subcontracting chains obscure employee-employer relations, downgrade health and safety mechanisms and reduce compensation levels,” Escresa-Colina said.
“We have seen a similar experience in Hanjin Shipyard, where dozens of subcontracted workers died from work-related accidents. How many more workers should die before the government does something to protect workers from irregular and hazardous work arrangements?” she added.
EILER said that there are only around 100,000 regular workers of the total 1.8 million workers in the country’s construction industry. It said 1.79 million of this figure are contractuals or project-based who are earning very low wages, citing a 2008 study by the Hong- Kong-based Asia Monitor Resource Center.
The labor NGO said the Eton tragedy also calls for a review of the DOLE Department Order No. 18-2002, which legalizes labor-only contracting and other irregular work arrangements, and department Order No. 57-2004, which exempts workplaces with more than 200 employees from government inspection.
The group also warned the government in its promotion of construction projects under the public-private partnerships (PPP) model, saying the Eton tragedy is one fine illustration of the social costs that the construction boom may incur on the safety and job security of Filipino workers.
Season’s greetings from the Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research, Inc. (EILER)!
12 December 2010
Reference: Anna Leah Escresa-Colina, Executive Director, EILER, 0908-864-2151
The labor department’s push for self-regulation in business process outsourcing (BPO) firms in the country will only embolden outsourcing firms in violating labor rights with impunity, a labor advocacy group warned today.
Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (Eiler) said Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz’s promotion of self-regulation in BPOs essentially puts BPO workers closer to abuse of their employers as the government abrogates its role to protect and uphold labor rights in BPOs.
“We are seriously alarmed with Secretary’s Baldoz’s pronouncement since such move emboldens foreign outsourcing firms in preserving dismal working conditions in BPO hubs and in implementing worse forms of labor exploitation,” said Eiler executive director Anna Leah-Escresa Colina.
“If the government itself cannot protect BPO workers from dismal labor conditions and uphold workers’ rights in BPOs, how can we expect foreign firms to do so under self-regulation,” she added.
Eiler said Secretary Baldoz’s pronouncement that self-regulation will allow companies a “built-in flexibility to do business” bodes worse forms of contractualization, irregular work and skewed pay schemes in the local BPO industry.
BPO firms are currently “centers of contractualization and irregular work” as it has 208,316 non-regular workers, or close to one-third of the total 731,548 non-regular workers in all industries. Non-regular workers include contractual, casual, seasonal, apprentice and probationary workers.
“Also, there is no single existing union in the local outsourcing industry which employs around 600,000 voice and non-voice BPO workers, an alarming fact which self-regulation will definitely not address,” said Escresa-Colina. If self-regulation is encouraged where there is absence of worker’s organization to represent workers, it would merely be part of a “good publicity stint” for the BPO sector.
“Instead, self-regulation will point to stricter regulation of BPO workers’ activities and unfettered abuse of workers’ rights by these foreign companies. It virtually hands BPO firms all the power and mandate to do whatever they want to do with Filipino workers.”
“Rather than pushing for self-regulation in the BPO industry, what DOLE should do is to promote the rights of BPO workers inside the workplace. Supporting the House Bill 2592 (HB 2592) or the BPO Workers Welfare Act filed by Kabataan Party List would be a good step forward,” she added.
HB 2592 pushes for the recognition of BPO workers’ right to self-association and collective bargaining, as well as protection of employees from sexual and political discrimination, among others. #
Before 10.10.10 was Globalization 10.
Labor NGO Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research, Inc. (EILER Inc.) kicked off its lecture series on globalization last Oct. 9 at the UP College of Mass Communication with a marathon discussion on globalization’s impact on workers and the rise of ecozones.
“Globalization 10 Lecture series” is a 10-part series that seeks to dissect globalization’s effects on various sectors and the growing people’s resistance to it.
The lecture series, which was part of the run-up to EILER’s 30th anniversary next year, was marked by presentations from a wide array of speakers that included progressive legislators, a researcher, and a labor leader.
“Thirty years have passed and yet the economic crisis and its impact on us continues to worsen up to now. It was only two years ago when the world saw what is dubbed as the “Greater Depression. Thus, it is highly necessary and timely to refresh and deepen our understanding of imperialist globalization,” said Analea Escresa-Colina, EILER’s executive director.
IBON Foundation policy officer Paul Quintos gave an overview of neoliberal globalization and its grave consequences on the working peoples of the world, concluding that monopoly capitalism is a system that is full of crises and contradictions.
“The crisis which imperialist countries tried to avoid via neoliberal policies now unfolds as a broader and deeper crisis. The system is generally headed for a crash,” said Quintos, who was also Eiler’s former executive director.
Other speakers in the lecture series launch include Anakpawis partylist Rep. Rafael “Paeng” Mariano (Globalization and overall effects on poor sectors); labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno chairperson Elmer “Bong” Labog (Globalization: Attack on wages, jobs and labor rights); former Anakpawis Rep. Joel Maglunsod (Globalization, charter change and labor law reform); and Helen Simplina, executive director of Crispin B. Beltran Resource Center (Enclaves of Sorrow: Globalization and Special Economic Zones).
If you want to request a copy of the powerpoint presentations, you can e-mail us at eile...@gmail.com.
In the run-up to its 30th anniversary in February 2011, the Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research, Inc. (Eiler Inc.) will hold a lecture series titled “10 Days of Education on Globalization.”
The ten lectures will seek to dissect globalization’s neoliberal attacks on wages, employment and trade union rights, as well as its adverse impacts on women, children and the environment. It will also tackle legislations and policies crafted under the framework of liberalization, privatization and deregulation. Towards the end of the series, the people’s resistance to globalization policies and the struggle for a just and human society will be discussed in detail.
Educational discussions will be given on Saturdays starting on October 9, wherein the lecture series will be formally launched. Photo exhibit on Eiler’s history and its various programs and activities will also be set up in every educational discussion.
Unions/organizations interested in the lecture series may co-sponsor a particular educational discussion/s. The terms of co-sponsorhip may cover logistical/financial assistance.
The educational discussions lecture series is as follows:
(Venue for each lecture to be announced soon)
Launching of the lecture series — 8 a.m.
Laboring under Globalization: Wages, Jobs and Righst under Siege — 9 a.m.
Enclaves of Sorrow: Globalization and Special Economic Zone — 1 p.m.
Venue: UP College of Mass Communication (UP CMC) auditorium, Ylanan Road, UP Diliman
The Struggle for Genuine Land Reform and National Industrialization
Venue: UP College of Mass Communication (UP CMC) auditorium, Ylanan Road, UP Diliman
Women, Child labor and Social Services under Globalization
Modern-day slavery: Globalization and Migration
Cracking the Code: Globalization and Labor Laws
Siphoning wealth: Globalization and foreign trade
On Globalization, Education and Culture
When Uncle Sam meets Mother Earth: Globalization and the Environment
US-led Global War and the People’s Resistance Worldwide
Capitalist Crisis and Socialism as Alternative
The recent spate of natural disasters in the country – Ondoy, Pepeng and Santi – and the way their destructiveness was intensified by human errors brought home to many Filipinos the reality of climate change and its relation to socio-political concerns. (more…)