Thousands of port workers storm Palace anew for job security
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Some 3,000 North Harbor workers and residents of communities near the port area once again marched to Mendiola to assert job security amid the port’s impending privatization.
Led by the Alliance of Port/Transport Workers and Porters in North Harbor (APTWP-NH), the workers demanded that the Terms of Reference (TOR) of the privatization be modified, since it guarantees workers of their jobs for only two years after the awarding of the contract to the winning bidder.
“We demand that the Terms of Reference be changed on this point to provide job security to workers,” said Jake Azores, president of APTWP-NH and United Dockhandlers, Inc., a local union.
“But because the winning bidders are not acting on our legitimate demands, we ask the government to act. We demand government action for workers’ protection from massive layoffs,” he said.
At least 7,000 North Harbor port workers and vendors stand to lose their jobs because of the port’s privatization. Hundreds of families living near the port terminal, meanwhile, face demolition threat.
“Until we are assured of our job security, we will not stop in mobilizing by the thousands to Malacañang,” said Azores.
“And they haven’t seen our full strength yet,” said Azores, citing his group’s Sept. 15 mobilization to Mendiola which was attended by some 3,000 workers. “We can close down the port area, and they know it,” he added, vowing bigger protest actions if their demands remain unmet.
Rey Sumayo, president of the National Federation of Workers Unions-KMU (NFWU-KMU), meanwhile slammed the “propaganda offensive” by winning bidders Harbor Centre and Metro Pacific Investment Corp.
A paid ad came out last week, denying that there will be massive layoffs when the privatization deal pushes through. “They are trying to fool the workers and the people. The TOR explicitly guarantees employment for just two years,” said Sumayo.
“Harbor Centre is also known for being a Harbor of Contractualization. There are no unions there because workers are contractuals and the management busts unions,” he added.
After the North Harbor workers’ mobilization last Sept. 15, news came out that say thousands of jobs will be available in the port because of the privatization. “They are trying to win the public over and pit it against the North Harbor workers,” said Sumayo. “But it’s a big lie. In fact, they are going to downsize the workforce once they takeover.”
“There are two ways Harbor Centre and Metro Pacific Investment Corp. can layoff workers: One, by computerizing aspects of the harbor’s operation. Two, by replacing workers with workers from their other companies,” he explained. ###
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