Philippines: Action of Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU)

The Philippines’ genuine, militant and anti-imperialist labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno stands with the workers and peoples of the world in defending the right to strike. We stand with the International Trade Union Confederation in upholding the right to strike.

We condemn big capitalists and pro-capitalist governments who want to render the International Labor Organization inutile when it comes to upholding workers’ right to strike. They don’t want the ILO to be of any help to workers who hold strikes against the neoliberal austerity measures being implemented by pro-capitalist governments especially in Europe in response to the persisting global financial and economic crisis.

Even as we condemn attempts by big capitalists and pro-capitalist governments to any form of support for workers who hold strikes, we trust that workers will not be deterred by such attempts, even if they become successful. We trust that workers will continue to use various forms of protests including strikes to fight for higher wages, an end to contractual employment, against illegal retrenchment, and for their trade-union rights. We trust that workers will continue to exercise this most vital right until a day comes when this right’s existence and justness will become unquestioned by anyone.

We Filipino workers join today’s Global Day of Action for the Right to Strike by holding a protest in front of the government’s Department of Labor and Employment, which has historically acted as a tool of big capitalists in attacking workers’ right to hold strikes.

The government, through the DOLE, has in recent years bragged about the reduction in the number of strikes in the country, despite the worsening conditions faced by workers.

While we in the labor movement take such boasts as a challenge to increase the number of unions and strikes in the country, we condemn the DOLE’s role as an accomplice in illegal dismissals which capitalists carry out against workers who try to form unions. The DOLE has either provided capitalists with the names of workers who try to form unions, which capitalists use as a basis for illegally dismissing the workers, or turned a blind eye to illegal dismissals aimed at preventing workers from forming unions.

The Labor Secretary heading the DOLE continues to possess the power to assume jurisdiction over labor disputes, a violent weapon against workers’ right to strike. This power enables capitalists to issue back-to-work orders, fire workers who refuse to heed such orders, file criminal charges against such workers, and even bring the police and military to workplaces. The Hacienda Luisita massacre, which happened in November 16, 2004 and left seven people dead, is proof of the violent nature of this power.