Saturday, April 11, 2009

The following story and appeal comes from the Clean Clothes Campaign, working to improve the conditions of workers in the garment industry worldwide.
Philippines: more legal harassment of labour activists‏
Authorities in the Philippines are abusing their legal system as a means to repress workers' rights. A new court case against 33 labour-rights activists and factory workers is politically motivated and aimed at suppressing labour rights in the country.
Support our partners in the Philippines and write a letter today to the Philippine embassy in your country, or send a letter through our website at:
The workers, most of whom are women, are officials and members of three labour unions active in garment industries in the province of Cavite, just South of the capital Manila. They organised a strike in their factories in September 2006 to protest against the factories' refusal to negotiate for a collective bargaining agreement with the unions. Two days after their initiation, the peaceful strikes were violently dispersed by local police forces and agents of a private security company, who attacked the strikers with clubs and other crude weapons, injuring dozens of the workers.

Despite continued violence, the strikers persisted for another ten months before a group of uniformed and masked men with fire-arms entered the heavily-guarded factory compounds and threatened some of the strikers at gunpoint with death.

Following the violence, both unions issued criminal charges against the police and the security guards. Around the same time, the police also filed criminal charges against the 33 activists, accusing them of violence on the same occasion. Although the case against the police is still being investigated by the prosecutor of Cavite province, the same authority last week issued arrest warrants against the unionized workers.

The arrest warrants come at a time that the Filipino justice system seems to be increasingly used by authorities as an instrument to suppress dissent. The international community is currently putting pressure on the government to act against the large amount of extra-judicial killings of political dissidents. The authorities,especially elements from the military and the police force, are widely seen as being behind these killings.

It seems that the authorities have now changed tactics, and are starting to use the judicial system to stifle dissent, like they also did in the similar case of labour-rights activist and lawyer Remigio Saladero Jr.,who currently faces arrest over a murder charge that is widely seen as trumped up by the authorities
See: Philippine Labour Rights Lawyer Faces New Round of False Charges at:
Support our partners in the Philippines and write a letter today to the Philippine embassy in your country, or send a letter through our website at:
Please go to one of the links highlighted above to send the following message to the President of the Philippines.
Your Excellency,
I have been informed by the Clean Clothes Campaign that there has been a continued effort by the Government of the Philippines to intimidate labour and human rights activists and thwart their efforts to combat impunity for violence against labour leaders.
In one particular instance in the province of Cavite, 33 officials and members of the Nagkakaisang Manggagawa sa Chong Won (NMCW) and the Kaisahan ng mga Manggagawa sa Phils. Jeon Inc. (KMPJI), as well as two officers of the Solidarity of Cavite Workers (SCW) have been indicted for alleged violence against security personnel and the PEZA police force at the Chong Won and Phils. Jeon factories on Sept. 25, 2006 and Sept 27, 2006. These workers merely defended themselves against attacks from armed security people who were trying to violently break up the legitimate strike that the unions had initiated two days earlier.
The CCC sees the criminal charges against these union leaders as a way in which your government, through the Prosecutor of Cavite Province, covertly tries to intimidate these unionists, and obstruct their activities.I also refer you to information about a similar case against labour-rights activist and lawyer Remigio Saladero Jr., who currently faces arrest over a murder charge that is widely seen as trumped up by the authorities ( )

I send this email to urge your government to:
***End the campaign of intimidation against labour leaders and supporters;
***Invite the International Labour Organization to do a full and independent investigation into labour-related human-rights violations in the Philippines;
***Drop the criminal charges against the workers as well as the labour and human rights advocates, activists and organizers included in the above-mentioned case.

I stand in solidarity with the workers of the Philippines and look forward to the day when they will enjoy the full benefits of internationally recognized labour rights.
Yours sincerely,

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