DAVAO CITY – A labor group said President Benigno Aquino III gave “wrong information on strike data” and “mocked the seriousness of the right to strike” in his 5th state of the nation address (sona) to “salvage an already ostracized presidency”.

In an emailed statement, Romualdo Basilio, secretary general of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (May 1st movement) Southern Mindanao, said that for the Davao Region alone for the year 2013 “contrary to Aquino’s claim of one strike only, we recorded three (3) strikes launched due to illegal lockout and union busting.”

Basilio said that their affiliate unions Yoshida Farms Labor Union in Santo Tomas in Davao del Norte, Brokenshire College Faculty and Staff Union in Davao City and Freshmax Workers Union in Compostela Valley all launched strikes last 2013.

“(In 2012) contrary to Aquino’s claim that there were only two (2) strikes ever recorded, three (3) strikes by KMU-affiliated unions in Region 11 were documented,” he said.

Basilio said the RMN Davao Employees Union launched a strike for 9 days July of 2012 while Freshmax Workers had an eight-day strike November 2012 and Brokenshire College Faculty and Staff Union last December 2012.

In his Sona, Aquino quoted data from the National Conciliation and Mediation Board which is tasked to negotiate between company management and workers, that since 2010 less than 10 strikes are launched each year.

Aquino said that out of 152 “notices of strike and lockout in 2013, only one was launched.”

The Freshmax Workers Union, which Basilio said is based in Typhoon Pablo hit Compostela town in Compostela Valley provinced launched a strike twice as “labor unrest brewed in 2013 when capitalists exploited the disaster situation to retrench workers and break unions.”

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The labor leader also said that  “fewer strikes do not a harmonious relationship between labor and management make and is not a measurement of industrial peace”.

Basilio said that the “number of union membership in the country is dwindling due to legalized contractualization.”

“Majority of the workforce is automatically barred from exercising the right to strike (and to form unions because they are contractuals),” said Basilio.

Basilio said that the “strike as a final and severely restrictive measure of redress for the working class, is not appropriate material for a punchline.”

“But what is to be expected of a haciendero President who has never had to work a day in his entire life?” he said.

Meanwhile, Basilio said that unionized workers in Southern Mindanao experience “trade union repression” where  union leaders are “harassed and criminalized in the exercise of their right to organize.”

He said their union leaders Artemio Robilla and Danilo Delegencia, who are workers of banana company Dole Stanfilco in Maragusan, Compostela Valley “were falsely charged with murder for going against the company’s repressive policies.”

“Aquino’s claim of industrial peace and positive labor climate is a figment of his imagination. He lied as a last-ditch attempt to rally support for a presidency that has already been unmasked to be of the same make and mold as his corrupt predecessors,” said Basilio.

Davao Today sought the opinion of the Department of Labor and Employment on this matter but have yet to receive a response. (davaotoday.com)

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