Transnational union of Filipino migrant, domestic and care workers advances the fight for dignity and social and economic justice

Transnational union of Filipino migrant, domestic and care workers advances the fight for dignity and social and economic justice

The founding Congress of the Pinay Careworkers Transnational held in Quezon City in the Philippines on December 16-17, 2022, is a tremendous step forward in the fight for economic and social justice and winning dignity and respect for some of the most vulnerable workers in the world.

Mabuhay ang PINAY: SENTRO Statement for the founding Congress of the Pinay Careworkers Transnational (PINAY)

In today’s interconnected world, the crucial role of migrant workers is obviously clear. From professionals, to agricultural, blue collar, and domestic workers, entire economies depend on migrant labor. This is especially the case for the Philippines, which hails our Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) as modern day heroes. Yet, despite their important contributions, migrant workers experience widespread violations of their human and labor rights – both in the destination and origin countries.

Because of this, and the need to protect their rights, interests, as well as work towards their empowerment, the Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) announced with great joy the formation of Pinay Careworkers Transnational (PINAY), a transnational labor union of migrant Filipino care and domestic workers. In its inaugural Congress this 16-17 of December 2022, PINAY establishes itself as a space for organizing the collective strength of care workers in the Philippines and the many destination countries for OFWs.

Representing mostly women members based in Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, Taiwan, and the Philippines, the transnational union aims to work towards the complete protection of migrant careworkers across the entire migration cycle, from their recruitment until their departure to the destination countries.

PINAY’s establishment is the product of decades of organizing work made possible by the cooperation of labor organizations in different countries. We look forward to the continued growth of this transnational union towards the empowerment of the millions of OFWs in every corner of the globe.

Mabuhay ang mga manggagawang Pilipino, mabuhay ang mga OFW, mabuhay ang PINAY!

Solidarity message from the IUF Asia/Pacific Regional Secretary to the founding Congress of the Pinay Careworkers Transnational – a transnational union of migrant, domestic and care workers

Sebagai tanggapan atas tuntutan untuk memperkerjakan kembali pekerja perempuan yang diberhentikan secara tidak adil, Manajemen Phillips Seafood memberhentikan BPJS mereka.

Sebagai tanggapan atas tuntutan untuk memperkerjakan kembali pekerja perempuan yang diberhentikan secara tidak adil, Manajemen Phillips Seafood memberhentikan BPJS mereka.

Pada 25 November 2022, serikat pekerja bertemu dengan manajemen Phillip Seafood Indonesia untuk menuntut 40 pekerja harian perempuan yang diberhentikan secara tidak adil agar diberikan pekerjaan dan dialihkan ke posisi permanen. Manajemen menolak dan mengulangi perkataannya bahwa para pekerja tersebut gagal meningkatkan “kecepatan” mereka dalam memenuhi target harian.

Lima hari kemudian, pada tanggal 30 November, manajemen menghentikan iuran untuk BPJS Kesehatan mereka.

Mengabaikan protes para pekerja perempuan, Manajemen AS yang mengunjungi pabrik Phillips Seafood di Indonesia fokus pada permesinan

Mengabaikan protes para pekerja perempuan, Manajemen AS yang mengunjungi pabrik Phillips Seafood di Indonesia fokus pada permesinan

Pada tanggal 1-2 Desember 2022, tim Senior Manajemen dari Phillips Seafood – termasuk Manajemen AS – mengunjungi pabrik daging kepiting di Lampung, Indonesia, untuk melihat kondisi mesin dan peralatan. Mereka mengabaikan protes besar-besaran para pekerja perempuan atas pemutusan hubungan kerja yang tidak adil terhadap pekerja harian yang saat ini menuntut untuk diberikan pekerjaan tetap. Mereka tidak berhenti untuk bertemu dengan perwakilan serikat pekerja. Mereka tidak melakukan uji kelayakan. Mereka tidak meminta hasil penilaian dari status pekerja, beban kerja, kondisi kerja atau target harian. Mereka berfokus pada penggantian dan perbaikan mesin. Apakah ini mencerminkan nilai- dan kurangnya nilai moral – dari sebuah perusahaan yang mengaku sebagai pemegang bisnis keluarga di Baltimore?

Setelah 20 tahun menjadi pekerja lepas, pekerja perempuan pengolahan hasil laut di Indonesia meminta diangkat menjadi pekerja tetap. Namun, Phillips Seafood memberhentikan mereka.

Setelah 20 tahun menjadi pekerja lepas, pekerja perempuan pengolahan hasil laut di Indonesia meminta diangkat menjadi pekerja tetap. Namun, Phillips Seafood memberhentikan mereka.

Selama puluhan tahun, Sri Rezeki, Eti dan Suwarni setiap hari bekerja mengupas kepiting dan memisahkan daging dengan cangkang kepiting di Pabrik Phillips Seafood di Lampung, Indonesia. Sebagai pekerja harian, mereka bekerja di bawah tekanan kuat untuk memenuhi target harian yang berubah dengan cepat yang diukur dalam kilogram daging kepiting. Mereka menderita karena pekerjaan yang berlebihan, mengalami cedera dan menghadapi ancaman kesehatan yang buruk. Setiap pagi selama 20 tahun, mereka bersiaga menunggu SMS dari manajemen untuk mengetahui apakah mereka mendapatkan jadwal bekerja ke pabrik atau tidak. Hal tersebut merupakan bentuk ketidakamanan dan kecemasan tambahan dalam pekerjaan yang sudah tidak aman.

 

Sama seperti bisnis restoran milik keluarga, Phillips Seafood yang berpusat di Baltimore, AS, yang berinvestasi dalam memperluas produksi daging kepiting di Pabrik Lampung, Sri Rezeki, Eti dan Suwarni – bersama dengan 37 pekerja harian perempuan lainnya berhenti menerima SMS dari Manajemen di tanggal 30 Agustus 2022. Sejak saat itu mereka efektif diberhentikan.

Ketika Serikat menuntut untuk mengetahui mengapa 40 perempuan itu tidak lagi dipanggil untuk bekerja, manajemen menyatakan bahwa hal itu terjadi karena “kinerja yang buruk” – gagal memenuhi target harian mereka. Namun kesamaan Sri Rezeki, Eti dan Suwarni  dengan 35 buruh perempuan yang dipekerjakan sebagai buruh harian selama 20 tahun dan dua perempuan lainnya, Rusmiyati dan Desiyanti, yang bekerja selama 13 tahun, adalah mereka secara resmi meminta untuk dijadikan pekerja tetap. Mereka telah meminta untuk diangkat menjadi pekerja tetap pada 2010, 2012, dan 2017.

Setelah serikat pekerja mendapatkan pengakuan dari perusahaan pada akhir tahun 2021 (setelah perjuang selama 12 tahun untuk hak-hak serikat pekerja) dan merundingkan kesepakatan bersama pertamanya, diringan untuk pekerjaan tetap bagi pekerja harian perempuan meningkat pada tahun 2022. Sebagai tanggapan manajemen secara sederhana berhenti memanggil mereka untuk bekerja. Hanya setelah serikat pekerja menuntut para perempuan ini untuk melanjutkan pekerjaannya dan dijadikan pekerja permanen, Manajemen mengklaim bahwa hal itu terjadi karena “kinerja yang buruk”. Setelah mereka bekerja selama 20 tahun. Jadi pertanyaannya tetap: Bagaimana perusahaan seperti Phillips Seafood dapat memutuskan bahwa pekerja harian perempuan di Indonesia yang mengekstraksi dan menyiapkan daging kepiting untuk restorannya di AS selama dua dekade, memiliki kinerja yang buruk dan sekarang mereka berhentikan begitu saja?

RSPO “mixed”? may contain forced labour, environmental destruction (we don’t know)

RSPO “mixed”? may contain forced labour, environmental destruction (we don’t know)

Anyone trying to buy products that are environmentally and socially sustainable and not harmful to human rights or the environment faces an immense challenge. Not only are more and more environmental and human rights groups turning certification labelling into a profitable business (more business than protection), their claims seem less and less credible. Deforestation and biodiversity loss continues at an alarming rate, while child labour and forced labour continues to be widespread, with no sign of declining. What is declining is people’s confidence in large multinational corporations with extensive global supply chains being able to live up to their sustainability claims.

Underpinning the gap between these claims and the reality is the issue of traceability. Companies must know exactly where each and every ingredient came from, the impact of how it was grown, raised, caught and/or produced, how it travelled through the supply chain and under what environmental and social conditions, to end up in the final product. Only through traceability can they know. And they don’t know. One reason is that the responsibility of monitoring and reporting is outsourced to third-party certification agencies, foundations and organizations, including NGOs, who are effectively paid to police themselves.

Block chain is presented as the technological answer. But block chain only ensures no one can tamper with information inputted along the way. So if the information inputted (by humans) is unreliable, then block chain preserves the integrity of the lie. It cannot be tampered with.

Another reason traceability is problematic is that there are grey areas where it is unclear where the ingredient or produce came from. In fisheries this includes distant water fishing (DWF) fleets mixing the catch at sea and deliberately mislabeling the point of origin. Or seafood companies semi-processing in informal peeling sheds before bringing the product into their factories. In agriculture, sugar, tobacco, and palm oil are not sourced from identifiable farms or fields, but are presented by buyers and “middle-men” as a single crop. Or under coffee and cacao certification the certification bodies allow the misuse of farmers’ names and farm locations to claim that it meets all the requirements. And farmers still don’t get the promised premium.

This is clearly demonstrated by the “mixed” trademark of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). The “mixed” certification label means that RSPO certified the palm oil used in the product under its Mass Balance supply chain approach. Mass Balance means that palm oil made from palm kernel harvested in plantations certified as free from deforestation, environmental destruction, and human rights abuses is mixed with palm kernel from plantations not certified as free from deforestation, environmental destruction, and human rights. So “on balance” RSPO and its corporate customers hope it turns out okay in terms of the environment and human rights.

We could liken it to the warning of possible allergens in packaged food labelling: “this product may contain traces of nuts”. This usually means food products containing nuts were manufactured on the same line, so traces may have ended up in the current food product. So what this really means is: we don’t know, there could be traces of nuts, so be careful. It’s precautionary. What the RSPO “mixed” labeling means is: we don’t know, and we won’t find out. It’s irresponsible.

The distinction between palm oil and palm kernel is significant. Most people (as informed consumers) believe that sustainable palm oil and 100% traceability concerns the palm oil plantations themselves. This is logical since deforestation, habitat destruction, biodiversity loss, greenhouse gas emissions from destruction of forests and peatland, forced labour, child labour, excessive pesticide use, land grabbing and displacement of indigenous peoples all occur on or around plantations. But within the industry palm oil is the product of palm oil refineries and traceability refers only to the ability to track palm oil shipments to the refinery itself. It is not traceable to the plantations.This allows a crucial grey area of flexibility. Companies can include palm kernel within the cope of sustainability if they have good examples to promote, and exclude it when forests are burning or human rights are violated. Like “mixed”, the interchangeable use of palm oil and palm kernel allows a very flexible use of traceability, which in turns allows deniability.

The “mixed” RSPO label means that you are consuming a product that was made with some sustainable palm oil, and some unsustainable palm oil. There might be some deforestation and and rights abuse mixed in there, RSPO doesn’t know. But why doesn’t RSPO know? The reason is that there is still no system for monitoring and control to ensure compliance. This is partly because the entire system of regulation, monitoring and enforcement is privatized and financed by the companies using the RSPO certification labels.

As long as private industry certification organizations can monopolize a commodity or industry, they can limit the choices people make. In the case of the Maldives, union members of BKMU fish tuna sustainably with single pole lines with no by-catch, no harm to other species and no nets causing damage to the environment. But the distant water fishing (DWF) fleets backed by their own governments and the certification bodies can denounce tuna caught sustainably in the Maldives by unionized fishers, force it off the supermarket shelves in Europe, and replace it with marine species caught through destructive drift net fishing. There is no discussion of traceability when it comes to massive DWF trawlers killing a multitude of other marine species, destroying coral reefs and ocean habitats, and using abusive labour practices, including forced labour. It still ends up in supermarkets as sustainable, because the certification bodies, their “alliances” and corporate-backed NGOs say it is.

The only way for people to be certain that the products they consume aren’t linked to environmental destruction or human rights violations (and therefore really have a choice) is to ensure that the environment and human rights are protected. Palm oil companies and their buyers must stop lobbying against stricter environmental, labour and human rights legislation. They must stop undermining the efforts to protect the rights of rural communities and indigenous peoples – especially with regard to land rights. Palm oil companies and their buyers must stop the aggressive repression of trade union rights and guarantee all workers – especially migrant workers – have full and unconditional access to the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining. Rural communities, indigenous peoples, marginal farmers and workers must be self-organized, collectively represented, and be able to protect their rights and interests. Only then can we ensure the protection of the environment and human rights that people want and expect from the products they consume. There are no mixed messages in that.