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SM’s massacre of trees, an extension of massacre of workers’ rights – KMU

“Henry Sy’s massacre of trees in Baguio is an extension of his long-standing massacre of workers’ rights. The two have the same cause: Sy’s insatiable greed for profit.”

This was labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno’s statement today, as it lambasted multibillionaire and ShoeMart owner Henry Sy for the uprooting of trees around SM Baguio which started yesterday.

SM’s plan of uprooting 182 trees in Luneta Hill in Baguio City for its expansion started yesterday, with SM refusing to stop despite a 72-hour temporary environmental protection order released by a court and popular opposition to the plan.

“Henry Sy has consistently shown disregard, even disdain, for workers’ rights for years. If he can attack the rights of the very people who created his wealth, what prevents him from uprooting trees that for him only stand in the way of amassing bigger profits?” said Roger Soluta, KMU secretary-general.

“Sy has promoted contractualization in his mall, made salesladies follow a very taxing work regimen, busted the workers’ union there, and repeatedly dispersed workers’ strikes. He has been ruthless to people, now he is showing that he is also ruthless to nature,” he added.

The labor center, with which the Sandigan ng mga Manggagawa sa Shoemart is affiliated, cited the following facts:

>> More than 90 per cent of SM workers are contractuals. They are hired for a contract lasting for a few months and are merely re-hired when the contract ends.
>> SM has been refusing to hike workers’ wages in violation of wage orders since 1991.
>> SM salesladies are subjected to a notoriously taxing work regimen: they are made to stand all day with almost no rest, are only given a few minutes to go to the bathroom, are frisked before they go to the bathroom, and are subjected to sexual harassment.
>> All four workers’ strikes in SM’s history were met with violence in the hands of security guards who were former soldiers.
>> Leaders of the SMS were illegally retrenched from work in 2003 and were immediately replaced with pro-management leaders.

“But Sy is only able to do all these, including the uprooting of trees, with the approval of the national government. We condemn the Aquino government for allowing Sy to uproot the trees in Baguio and to continue attacking workers’ rights,” Soluta said.

“Despite the Aquino government’s hype about ‘regularizing’ workers and ending contractualization through its new department order, SM workers remain contractuals. Despite its rhetoric about protecting the environment, it continues to side with big capitalists who are destroying the environment to advance their selfish interests,” he added.

Reference Person: 
Roger Soluta, KMU secretary-general
Contact information: 
0928-7215313

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