Philippines

“Today, we pay tribute to our medical workers who battle the COVID-19 pandemic at the frontlines, in service of the people".
NEWS RELEASE | 31 August 2020
 
On National Heroes Day, workers under the banner of United Workers paid tribute to the hardwork and heroism of frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
In a symbolic protest action at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City, the workers from Kilusang Mayo Uno, Nagkaisa! Labor Coalition and Paggawa paid tribute to the 38 fallen medical workers by offering flowers. They also paid tribute to heroes of the working class, some are included in the Wall of Remembrance of the Bantayog ng mga Bayani.
 
“Today, we pay tribute to our medical workers who battle the COVID-19 pandemic at the frontlines, in service of the people. They are our modern heroes. We also remember heroes of the working class from the past, from Gat Andres Bonifacio and Amado V. Hernandez, to Ka Lando and Ka Bert Olalia, and Crispin ‘Ka Bel’ Beltran, who led the Filipino people in the most trying times of our nation’s history, who fought for our freedoms and the greatness of our country. We give them a high salute!” said Elmer Labog, Chairperson of Kilusang Mayo Uno.
 
Labog added that leadership emulated by Filipino heroes is very much needed in this time of pandemic and crisis, something the Duterte Administration and the IATF utterly failed to do, to the detriment of people’s health, rights and livelihood.
 
As they remember those who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty, the workers reiterated their call for free mass testing, to secure the safety of workplaces and to provide hazard pay to all the frontliners in different fronts of activity during the pandemic.
 
hero day 2
 Chairperson Kilusang Mayo Uno Elmer Labog
 
“We know there are people dying including many of our frontliners.  But we see  our frontliners still bravely fighting. Despite low pay and lack of PPEs, they care enough to make life worth living in this time of pandemic. Despite the threat to their own lives, our health care workers are courageously healing those who are sick. They are risking their own lives in order to make a better life for us.  They are our living heroes fighting on the frontlines and worthy to be recognized with our concrete attention on National Heroes Day,” said Atty. Sonny Matula, President of Federation of Free Workers, and Chairperson of Nagkaisa Labor Coalition.
 
Trade unions press for regular free testing, quarantine leave, hazard pay for health workers in the private sector, and much needed rest for frontline workers. They also demand that those who are under job orders or contract of service schemes need to be regularized under the civil service law as mandated by the Universal Health Care Law.
 
As millions of workers lose their job due to the pandemic, the worker’s coalition challenged the Duterte government to institute meaningful reforms and economic policies that promote and build local industries, mobilize local resources, and generate jobs for Filipinos.
 
"We owe our very lives to the heroism of the toiling masses. Though unwell, the Filipino people are still alive to endure the twin scourges of a pandemic and a global economic slowdown. On this year's National Heroes Day, we say thank you to those who produce and distribute our needs, to those who toil in farms, to those who are deemed essential but are paid with starvation wages, to those who transport both people and commodities, to those at the medical frontlines, to people of science who are in frantic search for a vaccine, to those who create art to shield us from depression and hopelessness. In the same manner, we are reserving our most scathing cuss words against a bungling and incompetent regime that is more concerned with plunder and its ratings with vulturous credit and finance institutions,"  Paggawa spokesperson Leody De Guzman.
 hero day
Media conference: Chairperson Kilusang Mayo Uno Elmer Labog
 
United Workers urged fellow workers to persist in unity, organizing and building unions,  to advance the urgent demands for people’s health, jobs and rights in the face of the COVID pandemic and the worst economic crisis in the country.
 
References:    Elmer Labog, Kilusang Mayo Uno Chairperson (09081636597)
                     Atty. Sonny Matula, Nagkaisa Chairperson (09178079041)
Australian unionists stand in solidarity with their brothers and sisters in the Philippines #Stopredtagging

 Elmer Bong Labog, leader of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) union federation in the Philippines, called on Australian unionists and internationalists to stand in solidarity with their brothers and sisters on a Solidarity Tour in Perth, Melbourne, Canberra, and Sydney.

Melbourne Meeting

Melbourne: over seventy-five internationalists hear Elmer’s call for solidarity

“The intensive harassment and repression of trade union members and working people in the Philippines deserves to be condemned by all who value basic human rights and the rule of law.”

On his solidarity tour, Elmer met with union members and leaders from the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU), the Electrical Trades Union (ETU), UnionsWA, Public Services International (PSI) Asia Pacific, Victorian Trades Hall Council, Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU), Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU), Australian Nurses and Midwives Federation (ANMF), Australian Council of Trade Unions, (ACTU), the Financial Services Union (FSU), and the NSW Teachers Federation.

And union members responded to Elmer’s call, with strong numbers of activists attending the events. 

 GlennWA Meeting

In Perth, Elmer Labog met with the Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA Perth Activist Group. After being welcomed by AMWU Secretary Glenn Thompson and meeting with UnionsWa Secretary Meredith Hammat and WA Greens leader Alison Xamon MLC, Elmer attended a wreath-laying ceremony at Solidarity Park in commemoration of the forty-six union members murdered in extra-judicial violence under the Duterte regime. 

 Solidarity Park WA

Perth: Wreath Laid in Commemoration of Murdered Philippine Unionists

In Melbourne, more than seventy-five Victorian unionists gathered to hear Elmer and Meryle in conversation with Brother Thy Yann from the Building Woodworkers Trade Union of Cambodia (BWTUB)  and Andrew Dettmer from the AMWU – Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union about trade union repression across the Asia Pacific.

The delegation met with Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) President Michele O’NeilLuke Hilakari Secretary of the Victorian Trades Hall Council, and Kate Lappin, Regional Secretary of Public Services International (PSI) Asia Pacific.

 ACTU Meeting

In Canberra, the Philippine delegation spoke with federal parliamentarians about the urgent need for the Australian government to pressure the Duterte regime to end the killings. They called for Australia to end its military aid of the Philippines military, which has been implicated in wide-spread human rights abuses against civil society activists and campaigners.

 Peter Solidarity

Canberra: Parliamentarians hear about trade union repression in the Philippines

“The right of working people to organise is guaranteed by international standards and national laws, including the ILO Convention on Freedom of Association, but these are being ignored by the Duterte regime in the Philippines. We call on the Australian government to suspend military assistance to the Duterte Regime.”
Elmer and Meryl spoke with: Senator Penny WongAdam Bandt MP, Senator Tony Sheldon, Senator Kim CarrSenator Tim AyresJosh Wilson MPPat Conroy MPPeter Khalil MPGed Kearney MP, Julian Hill MP, and Josh Burns MP
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