Workers, Aquino meet one week before Labor Day

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014


PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III is set to meet several labor organizations Thursday in Malacanang, exactly one week before his fourth Labor Day celebration to discuss several issues concerning workers.

In a statement released by the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), the Nagkaisa coalition said that they have been invited by the Office of the President for a meeting at 9 a.m. at the Heroes Hall in Malacanang.

"We are invited to attend to a non-ceremonial pre-Labor Day dialogue with the president," said TUCP spokesman Alan Tanjusay.

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Based on the program, first part of the dialogue is dedicated to Cabinet Secretaries' presentation of response to the issues raised by the Nagkaisa technical working groups.

Representatives of the labor groups will then be given time to respond to the presentations I the second part.

Finally, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz shall summarize the discussions before Aquino is scheduled to make a speech.

The eight issues earlier raised by Nagkaisa are ensuring security of tenure of workers by criminalizing or eliminating contractualization of labor, enhance labor rights by deterring union-busting and actively prosecute extrajudicial killings of labor organizers and journalists; providing exemption and enhancement on minimum wage taxation; institutionalizing core labor standards in the agro-industrial plan; and addressing affordability and supply sufficiency of power by forming a Presidential Task Force on Power composed of tripartite representatives, EPIRA reform, and labor representation in the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

Also waiting for Aquino's response are issues on providing affordable housing program and non-violent transfer of urban poor communities from danger zones; ratification of ILO Convention 151—a convention concerning protection of the right to organize and procedures for determining conditions for employment in the government service; approving into law the Freedom of Information measure; and ensuring a jobs-led and workers’ sector participation in the planning and implementation of programs of the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Yolanda-hit areas.

"Labor groups had been very patient in discussions with several key government agencies’ executives in making them understand about issues that deeply hurt the working class," said Associated Labor Unions President Michael Mendoza.

"It's now up to him (Aquino) how he wants to be treated by the working class on May 1. We in the labor sector already did our part for him not to repeat his previous Labor days disconnect with workers’ issues," said Mendoza.

Aside from his responses to the issues, Partido Manggagawa head Rene Magtubo said they will also zero in on Aquino's sincerity in addressing their concerns.

"This is a very important occasion for PNoy (Aquino) to distinguish himself from past presidents who gave token attention to workers' issues during May 1 Labor Day rites… Labor leaders will analyze, measure, and weigh his every word," Magtubo said.

In previous Labor Day celebrations, Aquino held regular breakfast sessions with labor groups during the actual Labor Day. (HDT/Sunnex)

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