By CESAR RENERIO
North Central Mindanao Region
National Democratic Front of the Philippines
The National Democratic Front of the Philippines – North Central Mindanao Region resolutely unites with the struggle of the workers of Pacific Activated Carbon Co. Inc. (PACCO) in Gracia, Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental. Amidst the severe exploitation and oppression of the company against the workers, the latter have resorted to their last legal means — the strike.
For a long time, the workers have suffered from low wages and the denial of benefits and the right to organization. Their agony has been aggravated since March 2011. With the bankruptcy of the other companies owned by Herman Montenegro, the fruits of the labor of the poor workers of PACCO were used to pay for his countless financial liabilities.
They were forced to continue working without a definite wage. These last 17 months or so, the PACCO worker only receives a measly P100 to P500 a week, and is given a transportation allowance so that he may not fail to report to work every day. This wage is far from enough to cover even the daily food expenses of the average worker’s family. Some of them were already driven to seek other jobs.
This is what motivated the workers to unite and found their union to serve as a collective instrument to struggle for the right to work, to demand the payment of the months-worth wages denied them as well as for benefits, and to launch a strike. But the capitalists answered their just demands by expelling them from their jobs, forcing them to make unpaid vacations, suspending them from work and other forms of repression primarily directed against the officers of the Workers’ Union of PACCO (WUPACCO).
The more than three months of determined struggle in the picket line however is now facing the threat of dispersal after the reactionary labor agency declared the strike illegal.
The situation in PACCO clearly demonstrates how, in the midst of the class struggle between the capitalists and the workers, the reactionary government and its labor agencies always defend the capitalists’ interests. The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is useless in unambiguously upholding the interests and welfare of the workers. Indeed, it investigates the demands of the workers but fails to enforce decisive actions whenever the capitalist’s violations are uncovered after the investigation.
The National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) and National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) further exposed their pro-capitalist leanings when they decided that the victimized workers are the ones who have something to account for. They criminalized the workers’ strike, sued the workers with trumped-up charges, and expelled them from work without any hope of receiving anything from Montenegro.
Job security for the working class in our society is one casualty under the present semi-feudal and semi-colonial conditions. Any time, the companies they work for may close due to the effect of the crisis of the world capitalist system or the maneuvers of the local comprador bourgeoisie, including Montenegro, who think of nothing else but the accumulation of profits from the exploitation of the cheap labor-force. All this comes from the lack of genuine industrialization in the country. The factories and manufacturers in our country produce nothing more than raw or semi-processed materials intended for export to the world market. These are not used for the development of agriculture, which necessitates genuine agrarian reform as the basis of genuine development of our society.
Noynoy Aquino only pays lip service with his “righteous road” and allegedly providing job security for the Filipinos. Like him, the Montenegro family comes from the ruling class. They both mercilessly oppress and exploit their workers. Can the people put trust in the president who, until now, is inutile in serving justice for the workers and peasants of their very own Hacienda Luisita who were massacred in the picket line for struggling for their right to the land and work?
Only through strong organization and determined struggle can the PACCO workers attain further strength to continue demanding for their rights. They should unite with the other democratic classes and sectors who are engaged in struggle like them. They must understand that the solution to their problem regarding the exploitation and oppression of PACCO can only be fully achieved with the fulfillment of genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization in the context of the national-democratic revolution now being launched in the countryside, and the following socialist revolution and construction.
If the legal struggle proves futile for them, the guerilla zones are always open to those who are ready to embrace armed struggle and join the New People’s Army.
We challenge the local government officials of Tagoloan and the province of Misamis Oriental to show their service to the people by defending their oppressed constituents. We also encourage the military and the police, who receive their salaries from the people’s taxes, to take sides with the poor who pay for their salaries and not with the greedy capitalists.