Martes, Pebrero 28, 2012

Defend Job Philippines Interview

Defend Job Philippines Interview 

Can you tell us any background how Defend Job Philippines started? What specific activities you do in Defend Job Philippines? Does Defend Job a grassroots organization? What is the structure of the group?  How do you sustain your organization economically in terms of campaigns and projects?

Defend Job Philippines was created by women workers of Triumph international who were victims of illegal and unjust lay off on June 2009. The workers established Defend Job as a workers center helping workers victims of the global crisis. As a campaign center DJP organize workers and also networks with unions and other organizations. Our organization has a board of directors. The donations from the workers and organizations embracing the campaigns for jobs and justice are used for our campaigns.

I’ve heard that you support worker struggles most especially in the Philippines, how does it looks like? Do you have any aims or goals that you want to achieve? What are they? Do you also build networks with other workers struggles in other places in the Philippines? What specific trade that workers do and what company they are connected with? Does support from Defend Job limited only for employed folks or not at all?

We support workers struggle such as those who are victims of dismissal and other unfair labor practices of companies; contractualization, low wages and the attacks on the right to organize. Our aim to contribute in terms of campaigning workers issues affected by the global crisis. To educate people about how big multi national corporations and the government is passing the brunt of the crisis to the working people by implementing flexible labor policies such as contractualization and outsourcing. Because Defend Job is a campaign center for jobs, our stress is the issue of joblessness, its  roots----we do not have our own industries to absorb the millions of our labor force and farmers also do not have their own lands resulting them to be landless and displaced.

Does the group was formed in connection with Triumph case? How does Defend Job find out about the case? What exactly happened with the Triumph case? Is it true that there are working people in Triumph being kicked out or dismissed by the company? When and why this happen?

We filed a legal case against Triumph International at the National Labor Relations Commission because Triumph dismissed 1663 workers on June 2009 when the company abruptly closed its two factories in Taguig City. The closure is unjust, the Labor Code said that there should be 30 days notice prior to termination of employment or closure but the company already closed the factory when they announced the closure. The closure aims to bust the union of Triumph workers which is Bagong Pagkakaisa ng mga Manggagawa sa Triumph International. The union fought for 34 years for the rights and welfare of the workers and the company want to get rid of our union because they want to take away all our hard won victories for the welfare of the workers such as wages, benefits and regularization of contractual workers.

How many workers being dismissed? What are the workers responses after being dismissed? How the workers lived after being kicked out? Do the workers set demands from the company after dismissal? What kind of economic alternative being made by workers after they were dismissed? I was informed about the cooperative being organized by dismissed workers with Defend Job in the midst of their struggle; could you please tell us more about these?

1663 were dismissed from work. We formed a picket line in front of the company to denounce the illegal and unjust closure and dismissal because it is not true that the company is incurring losses. We stand firm that the closure is anti-worker, unjust and inhumane because: The company is not losing its business. In fact, Triumph International boasts in their official website the total revenue of $1.6 billion annually. It is still the number one lingerie company in the world. In the Philippines, the company sold P1.2 billion worth of underwear products in 2007 and the company’s asset grows from P189.8 million in 1989 to P745 million in 2007. Despite company’s open declaration of closure, the management still operates its Sales and Marketing Department, maintained 142 personnel and will also hire another 128 personnel. As a matter of fact, the company filed retrenchment and not permanent closure as their main reason at the Department of Labor and Employment. Mr. Dieter Streicher, Managing Director of Triumph International Philippines also said that they are looking forward for future investments in the Philippines. We stand firm that Triumph International should stop in worsening the miserable condition of the workers. The Global Restructuring Program must not result in the massive retrenchment and displacement of workers and their families not only in the Philippines but to other production centers worldwide. 2. We demand for the unconditional reinstatement and re-hiring of workers of Triumph International Philippines and Star Performance Incorporated. In addition, moving out of materials and equipment of Triumph International Philippines should be stopped. 3. We demand to Triumph International for unemployment pay of wages, salaries and benefits of the retrenched workers until such time that the dispute has not been settled, workers considered back to work or reinstatement of workers has not been made by Triumph  International. 4. We denounce the Philippine Government in conniving with the German Multi-National instead of safeguarding the rights of the Filipino workers to job security. The government should take decisive action for the benefit of the workers. 5. STOP the harassment and repression to us by Triumph International, Philippine Government and the government controlled Food Terminal incorporated police forces.

We established our own garment workers cooperative as an expression of our struggle for livelihood and social justice. Displaced workers are the members of the cooperative. We are making solidarity bags for their activities and they are paying us decent pay for our work. It is a product of hardwork of every displaced worker of Triumph International who are unwaveringly fighting against injustices committed by the German-Swiss lingerie company.   It symbolizes the courage and wisdom of the Triumph International workers.  Patronizing our solidarity collections is supporting the fight of the Triumph workers to defend job and opposing the policy of the capitalist to pass the brunt of the crisis to the workers in the midst of the global crisis and also means feeding the worker’s families and children who are also directly displaced due to the massive lay-off.

What kind of relationship does the Triumph Company upholds among their workers since then? Does working conditions behind Triumph have any subtle and dramatic changes? If so, what are they?

Our Union has been around for thirty two years since Triumph operates its business on March 1975, and since then management of Triumph never stopped in busting our Union in different manner and forms as we unwaveringly fight for better working condition inside the factory. We experienced quite a number of bloody dispersal in the picket line on our 6 times of strikes. Even the government connive with them because Triumph management hired hundreds of policemen to dragged the strikers and throw them in the police truck. We were bombed with water cannons, two (2) officers were handcuffed and one of them is a pregnant woman hanged and dragged by the mobile patrol because her hand was tied up on another woman inside that mobile. In that incident three (3) of our officers were detained in the municipal jail including this pregnant woman.  There are total 25 Union leaders dismissed for the reason of merely organizing and educating our members and exercising our rights to collectively bargain and right to mass action and or strike. On 1985 475 active union members were also laid off by Triumph management. And now these worst things happened to us and our family, because they wanted to pass the brunt of crisis to us, workers who spent our whole life to make the company grow and prosper.

What kind of conditions do people inherit while working for Triumph? Do divisions occur among fellow workers who are working there? If so, what are the root causes of these? Do workers have been given a chance to improve conditions while being at work? Could the workers able to get their demands from the company? What mostly are these demands, if any?

Our first collective action happened on 1976 when workers demand for proper ventilation inside the factory. It is one of our victorious actions that strengthened our union and demand for a Collective Bargaining Agreement with the company where we demand for increase in salaries and wages, benefits, regularization, safe and healthy working condition, funds for workers education and welfare programs and other legitimate demands. To improve our working condition is by means of collectively asserting and fighting for our rights led by our union. The company will not give it to us unless we will fight.  

Do the workers organize themselves independently after being dismissed? Or there were outside organizations that extend support with them later on? If so, how they were able to get in contact with these outside organizations? Do the workers had able to reach contacts with outside groups since then or have experienced in the past? Is there a worker organization like union or something that was being formed?

After the dismissal, our union led the collective actions including the campaigns. Workers organized different forms of actions such as forum on the globalization and fighting against it, symbolic protest, mobilization in front of Triumph Office, Department of Labor and Employment and Malacanang Palace. We also had solidarity actions with Triumph workers in Thailand and other countries and conducted internationally coordinated actions. Solidarity organizations from outside are organizations, unions and groups we worked since we are working inside the company. We are helping each other to achieve common good for the workers interest and welfare. When the mass retrenchment happened to us, Triumph workers initiated to form a campaign center that will unite different unions, people’s organizations, institutions and other sectors to fight for jobs and justice in the midst of the global crisis. Since then, Defend Job Philippines is embraced by many workers and other sectors.

I’ve heard about the militant actions such as pickets/strikes as protest being taken by dismissed workers with Defend Job fighting back against Triumph, how does it happen? When did it start?  Can you please tell us more about these? Does such actions still happening nowadays? Are these actions on a legal basis?

Strike is a strong, courageous and sharp collective weapon of workers to demand for our rights and welfare and contributes for the fundamental changes of our society. At Triumph, it started on June 2009 after the company abruptly shut down the factory. We set up a picketline at the vicinity of the factory to guard the massive relocation of machines and raw materials out from the factory. Workers and our families sleep in the picketline. While we are on guard, various activities are happening in the picketline; educational discussion on different Issues affecting the workers, mass meetings, symbolic protest and solidarity evenings. We experienced many strong typhoons in the picketline while on strike and also violent dispersals led by goons, security guards and police inside the industrial complex. These actions are happening nowadays especially that workers rights are under attack. Workers are push to collectively act and to strike because of the inhumane and unjust working and living condition inside and outside the factory.

Can you please give us any profile information or any backgrounds about Triumph Company? Where they are originally base from? In what places in the Philippines they operate? What they do and what are their products?

Triumph International is an international underwear manufacturer. Founded in Heubach,W├╝rttemberg, Germany 1886 by the two families Spiesshofer & Braun. The first foreign subsidiary was established in Zurzach, Switzerland which has become the company’s headquarters. The multinational manufacturing and marketing organization operates in 120 countries around the world. It is one of the leading underwear producers in the world and in 2010 had an annual turnover of 2.2 billion Swiss Franks, and over 36,500 employees.  In the Philippines, they have two factories in Taguig; Triumph International Philippines Incorporated and Star Performance Incorporated where elegant and expensive underwear for export to Europe are being made.

What is the current status of the Triumph case at the moment? Is it still ongoing? What sort of actions being carried out by Defend Job and by the workers themselves presently? Do the workers who have been kicked out still want to go back working for Triumph, especially when workers demands will be given by the company in the end?  Or this logic isn’t possible at all?

Right now, the legal case in the level of the National Labor Relations Commission. On August 2011, the case was being dismissed by the said Commission in favor or Triumph International. We filed a Motion for Reconsideration and still waiting for the response and will pursue our case to the Court of Appeals.

What can you say about workers self-management means no bosses, as an alternative example like in Argentina last 2001? Is it possible here in the Philippines that worker take control of the means of production and distribution? And not always depend their job and lives to the capitalist/company/corporations?

We have a good relationship with No Chains in Argentina. They are two self manage cooperatives of workers initiated by La Alameda in Argentina and now with Dignity of Returns in Thailand and we are working to learn from them and from our own experience as well to develop such kind of workers collective.

Ok finally, there might be people who maybe interested to support and help you out with your struggle along the way or extend solidarity with you most especially with dismissed workers in struggle, what kind of support you need or how could they help you?

Thank you for supporting the Triumph workers struggle and also our struggle for jobs and justice. We are encouraging you to write letter of appeals to NLRC. We are also inviting you to join us in our actions not only for Triumph workers but to all people and workers affected by the destructive effects of the global crisis. Please share to the world the stories of our struggle and solidarity. You can also patronize the solidarity collections that our workers collective or cooperative are producing such as bags and other items.

Thank you very much. Any last words ….

Maraming Salamat po. Defend Job. Defend Life. Union Organizing is a Right. Not a Crime. Regular Jobs. Not contractualization. Justice to all Workers victims of unjust lay off.

Linggo, Pebrero 26, 2012

Subversion, Multiplicity and the Rise of the Post-Left and Social Ecology: Thoughts and Experiences in the Archipelago 4th Anarchist Gathering Series Report

Sunday, February 19, 2012. The awaited discussion entitled Subversion, Multiplicity and the Rise of the Post-Left and Social Ecology: Thoughts and Experiences in the Archipelago turn out successful. People come and participated freely by introducing themselves to everyone, fulfilling significant tasks and serving free food. Everyone enjoys and friendly.  A mix in between volunteers and tireless activists of the Local Autonomous Network or LAN and new faces of different individuals that are active in people’s organization, academe, artists and young professional who embraced literary works were there.  Women and men are involved. Around 20 people gathered. The activity was set in a comrade house in a generous and open atmosphere. The day was a bit windy where people would feel the imminent blow. There are people who came early ahead of time and there are others who rush up later. The discussion started and facilitated at 4pm. The speakers accompany facilitation and prepared materials and gadgets. Speakers and participants work hand in hand in mutual sharing of tasks. Everyone is not alien towards each other.  No artificial bullshit keeping the phase as humanly as possible. Educational process is alive.  There was no space for speaker-listener distinction that reinforces hierarchical dynamics. A more liberational one was encourage through formal and informal basis on what is best or might work for everyone according to needs. Spontaneity is considered. No people giving orders .

The gathering is mainly organized by the Local Autonomous Network or LAN. This series come out monthly and become regular. The first one was set by the last quarter of 2011.  LAN in due respect  is quiet active for some years in various autonomous activities and projects like Food Not Bombs, info shops, publishing, anti-police violence campaign and so on. Some individuals or activists of LAN are also involve in social and ecological struggles supporting other autonomous causes (indigenous communities and peasants) that were politically unaware of any anarchist convictions of sorts, much of its theory or anything along these lines. Most of these folks negate due to necessity by fighting for their land and their people spearheaded by colonizing interests such as corporation that will rob resources via mining and other profit-motive operations.  Knowing that a particular intrusion will spoil the environment, way of living and communities, people fight back.  In many cases, NGO’s will support their causes in a legalistic way by whatever funding from the sky could able to provide, only to marginalized them and depriving their will of freedom and rebellion until being snatch in accordance with the law. Other leftist groups are quiet the same, are masked behind institutional plunder.

 LAN has no membership only volunteers believing in the cause of revolutionary change through creativity and action here and now.The speaker for the topic in Subversion, Multiplicity and the Rise of the Post-Left is Marco Cuevas- Hewitt. He is an Australian-base Filipino, an anarchist involve in various actions and projects in Australia. He was in the Philippines for a visit with a friend meanwhile meeting local anarchist activists. He is writing a paper on the said topic. Marco’s speaking counterpart is Bas Umali presenting Social Ecology: Thoughts and Experience in the Archipelago. Bas Umali focuses on anarchist history in the Philippines and how it emerges in its current state. He’s an author, a family man, down to earth individual and the main proponent for Indokumentado Productions. Other than theoretical work and family, he does facilitate activity with communities and LAN.

The topic on subversion addresses literally not only mean to destroy something but “creative subversion”.  The production of new ways of being, seeing, valuing, doing, relating is one of the features of “creative subversion”.  We create in order to negate and not vice versa.  It is argued that it’s not enough to reclaim one side of the master-slave dialectic.  A need also to subvert the very ground upon which such relations are founded. Binaries are displaced, rather than simply inverted.

The politics on multiplicity represents a rejection of the politics of unity associated with Hegel’s identity-difference dialectic. Politics of unity went hand-in- hand with centralized command structures such as old left and new left versions of unity.Some features of the post-leftist valorization of multiplicity are; commitment to addressing micro oppressions within the left, rejection of the logic of representation, decentralized modes of organization, new forms of community not bound by essences.It is quiet common for the post left currents that rather seeking to replace capitalist modernity with an alternative form of modernity; the post-left sensibility questions the modernist paradigm itself.  They consider emphasis on imagination rather than reason. They demonstrate politics of subversion, rather than inversion. The refusal of Hegel’s (1807) master-slave dialectic. And politics of multiplicity, rather than unity. The refusal of Hegel’s (1807) identity-difference dialectic.

The author’s main argument herein has been that the valorization of subversion and multiplicity is an important step toward achieving such autonomy since history has shown that the inversion of power relations and the policing of unity have only lead to restoration of everything the left has claimed to oppose.The second topic Social Ecology: Thoughts and Experience in the Archipelago presented by Bas Umali formulated ideas about how people have done to the environment. The ecological crises are unprecedented and are clear that people need to take sides sooner rather than later base on the facts and figures showed. Our chance of survival is at stake if the motor of progress maintained by capital continue raping the biosphere. It is argued that traditional way of life and spiritual beliefs in every social forms that primarily gives honor to nature and other species living on it is very important basis to learn about. The advancement of science and religion will greatly affect the environment including all other life forms that are naturally connected on it.

Linggo, Pebrero 12, 2012

Mobile Anarchist School Project in 2012 Appeal for Solidarity (Philippines)

Mutual-cooperation and non-hierarchical relationship are social relations can be traced during Paleolithic age. Like many communities existed around the world, primitive communities in the archipelago had its tradition of such social relations. Though not visible at larger scale, due to the dominance of authoritarian regimes and centralistic politics; anarchistic relationships sporadically and spontaneously occur in our relationships in family, community, workplace, agricultural and fishing communities, community-based organizations, indigenous communities among others.

History as what it is portrayed in centennial celebration typically focuses on personality and events that reinforce the concept of nation-state. It has special attention to hosts of “heroes” who campaigned for the ouster of colonial administration while proposing another government that will reign over the archipelago. Many authors have the habit of appreciating the dominance of Spain over the archipelago by pointing out the superiority of Monarchial Spain and relating it to the inferiority of decentralized and autonomous communities and baranggays.In broad strokes, barangganic was the social set-up of the primitive communities in the archipelago encountered by the Spaniards. Every barangay was autonomous but connected to many baranggays and communities through primarily blood ties. Usually, confederation of large baranggays can be found in river mouths where trading activities taking place on a massive scale.  Magellan’s misfortune in 1521 was brought by unfriendly attitudes of other Cebuano communities; Raja Humabon was the only leader accepted him but changed his attitudes right after Lapu-Lapu’s forces massacred his men.

There were several expeditions followed the Portuguese route which was also unsuccessful. The network of support of primitive baranggays proved to be formidable that it's able to dish out outsiders who were not welcome and seen to be unfriendly. Ruy Gomez de Villalobos expedition in 1543-1545 had luck after 16 months wandering around the archipelago looking for food and waiting for winds that would blow them back to Mexico. They had made friends to dozens of local chiefs and able to gather detailed information about trading, foreign contacts, political and economic condition of the archipelago. Their valuable information was useful to preceding trading expeditions.      

Magellan’s mission based on the contract he signed by the King of Spain was basically to make trades with the locals, he was strictly advised not to use hostilities against Muslims and locals. The faith conversion could be seen as a tactic to make commercial negotiation effective, indeed our ancestors who were deeply religious changed their faith, local gods subdued and converted local chieftains into Christians and many communities follow suit and pledge allegiance and loyalty to Christ and priests. Countless resistance failed due to the betrayal of locals who kneeled down before Christ and dismissed Diwata, Batahala and other local gods. Scholars and historians commonly attributed the failure of local resistance to lack of centralized organizational pattern which the monarchial Spain has. Personalities like Rizal, del Pilar, Jacinto, Mabini, Aguinaldo, Bonifacio and many others were the activists highly influenced by republicanism; they advocated and campaigned to oust the colonial government to be replaced by the local version which is basically patterned to European design.

Isabelo de los Reyes did not take off from the monopolistic idea of nation-state; he rather started from the local communities. He studied local culture through folklore to enrich his understanding on the subject matter that he believed to be the contribution of the communities of the archipelago to humanity. Many years before the 1896 revolution broke out, Isabelo as a media man was one of the consistent critique of the colonial administration, he was said to be more popular than his contemporary activists who were based in Europe. Spanish authorities arrested him and jailed together with more than 300 dissents. When he released wrote another letter encouraging people to go to the mountains and launch guerilla warfare against Spain; he was arrested for the second time and exiled to Montjuich, Barcelona where he befriended with radical journalists suspected to be anarchists. When released participated the anarcho-syndicalist actions in Barcelona and other parts of Spain. In 1901, before Leon Colgosz assassinated McKinley, he returned home and initiated the establishment of Union Obrera Democratica or UOD, the first workers union in the archipelago.    
Authoritarian left was introduced in 1930s, Bolshevik influence started to dominate the resistance movement and eventually replaced the anarcho-syndicalist planted by Isabelo de los Reyes. The dictatorship of the proletariat became the viable alternative for the workers and marginalized communities, and the movement were organized under the centralized politics of the Communist Party adhering Marxist and Leninist ideology.  During the 60’s, Chinese idea of people’s protracted war through guerilla warfare begun to out fashion the insurrectionary method of the Bolshevik.  Marcos dictatorship provided a condition for uprising. Hundred thousands of people were organized by the leftist group were the National Democratic Front was the most influential. During the late 90’s, the largest left block started to decreased strength, an internal debate caused fragmentation and led to formation of smaller political blocs. Also during this period few anarchist individuals and collective surfaced and consciously presented anarchist alternatives and methodologies, many youth warmly accepted and embraced the idea and consistently and creatively conducted activities through non-hierarchical pattern. Currently, autonomous movement is exploring systems and exerting extra effort to install mechanisms which will ensure education that intended to increase the capacity of collectives and autonomous individuals in carrying-out autonomous actions. 

The Mobile Anarchist School Project

Volunteers of Indokumentado Productions and Mindsetbreaker Press who are currently active in autonomous movement utilizing various methods such as conferences, workshops, consultations and protests actions are proposing for a “Mobile Anarchist School” project in 2012. The need for education and advocacy work to amplify existing campaign that generally focus on environmental issues, political marginalization, patriarchy, poverty and hunger that is widespread throughout the archipelago are amongst the main area of concern that the two collectives wanted to work on.  The aim of the project is to provide information, analysis and plans to marginalized communities, students, out-of-school youth and Local Autonomous Network or LAN. The project is also intended to share skills to local network related to writing, advocacy, campaign, public speaking and research.

About Indokumentado and Mindsetbreaker Press

Indokumentado Productions was formed two years ago (2010), its primarily aimed to produce and distribute documents independently to cater the perceived needs of the autonomous movement. Autonomous activists in the archipelago has very limited materials focused on local context, most materials are barrowed or donated from the west. Written and video documents produced by Indokumentado are derived from local history, context, analysis and experience based on anarchist framework. Indokumentado is very active in various campaigns such as Occupy Luneta, Food Not Bombs, alternative education for marginalized communities and street actions. Mindsetbreaker Press was also formed in 2011. Its objective is to re-print and publish and distribute anarchist literature. Likewise Mindset is also active in autonomous movement in providing relevant materials and organizing events that would provide information and will lead to actions.  

Mindset and Indokumentado are both active in facilitating activities attracting youth and young professional in various activities. During 2011, volunteers of Indokumentado and Mindset were occupied of activities which follows: mini gathering of autonomous network which consist of sets of  activities involving workshops and discussions on history, prehistory, current issues, ecology and gender issues. Organized a protests action during state of the nation’s address. Regular conduct of food not bombs in various marginalized communities in Metropolis (Taguig, Makati, Sucat, and Luneta, Manila). Produced and reproduced materials and documents like journal, pamphlets, fliers, posters, stickers edited videos, and made media release. Organized gigs with discussions on currents issues and ideas on anarchism. Actively participated occupy Luneta and conducted series of activities and protest action in public national park drumbeating the issues on poverty and hunger. Participated public discussion also in national park on issue of hunger and poverty. Art workshop for kids. Free market and sharing of gathered toys , shoes, dress and other stuff. Some of the activities conducted in the first quarter of 2012 are spill over of lazy years momentum like food not bombs in Sucat combine with art workshop and discussions on gender and medical assistance for kids. Since the collectives and people involved in activities mentioned above do not had a venue to assess and reflect the events to measure success, it is safe to say that it provided critical information and skills to both public (external to the movement) and the movement. Thus, meeting new faces in every activity that the two collectives able to connect and coordinate.
Please donate to the Mobile Anarchist School Project. contact:

Miyerkules, Pebrero 8, 2012

Local Autonomous Network 4th Anarchist Gathering Series continues...

Local Autonomous Network or LAN presents ongoing discussions in connection to the anarchist gathering series that started in the end quarter of 2011. This event is the 4th one that publicly raises theoretical and critical analysis on related issues concerning the present day as well relevant history of struggles in different social angles and unmediated formations. The upcoming discussions will spearhead two topics entitled " The Rise of the Post-Left" and "Social Ecology, Thought and Experience in the Archipelago". This will happen on February 19, 2012, Sunday starts at 2pm, at 7298 Cypress St. Marcelo Green Village, Bicutan, Paranaque City.

Contact Info:

Linggo, Pebrero 5, 2012


Happy new year!

Mindsetbreaker Press introduces a newly constructed blog space as a venue of anti-authoritarian ideas and actions that sprung  in the outskirts of Philippine archipelago and beyond. Watch out for more action- oriented news and reports in the struggle for liberation and autonomy. See you on the streets!