Int’l Trade Union Confederation condemns Philippine mass arrests

November 5, 2019 — The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) condemns a new wave of police repression of Philippine trade unionists. The offensive was launched when police simultaneously raided three premises of human rights and trade union organisations, arresting and detaining 57 people members of labour and civil society organisations. Repression operations are ongoing.

In the evening of 31 October 2019, bus workers were holding a union meeting in Bacolod city, capital of the province of Negros Occidental, when the building was raided. Elsewhere in the city, eight people, including four children, were held at gunpoint by police. Witnesses there reported that non-uniformed men entered the property and planted firearms. All 43 adults arrested were charged with the illegal possession of firearms.

Further raids are ongoing, and more trade unionists could be targeted in the coming hours and days. Faced with this abuse of power, trade unions are taking precautionary measures to safeguard their members’ safety.

“Under the cover of being tough on crime, this government is targeting human and trade union rights defenders as part of a deliberate political strategy that relies on the suppression of people’s rights and freedoms,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

The ITUC represents 207 million workers in 163 countries and territories and has 331 national affiliates.

This latest crackdown occurs amid a broader climate of government repression in the Philippines. The ‘war on drugs’ has been responsible for a reported 27,000 extra-judicial killings since it was launch by President Duterte in 2016. Both the ILO and the United Nations’ Human Rights Council have resolved to send high-level missions to probe the human rights situation following widespread reports of extra-judicial killings and repression of trade unions and their members.

While the government has recently pledged to investigate the killings of 43 trade unionists in a meeting with the ITUC in August, no progress has been reported and the government is yet to accept the ILO mission to the country, while the violence against activists continues with impunity.

“The rule of law is paramount and security services must treat everyone with impartiality. What we are seeing in the Philippines is a blatant appropriation, by the ruling party, of government forces to undermine labour organising and, more generally, to attack voices of dissent in order to consolidate its political power.

“The international union family will not let this go. We are demanding that the government stop the killing and repression of trade unionists and receive the ILO mission to investigate the situation as a matter of urgency,” said Burrow.
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UNI Global Union condemns police raids and arrest of Anne Krueger in the Philippines


Free Anne Krueger and Filipino labour organizers

TORONTO, Nov. 2, 2019 /CNW/ – Unifor strongly condemns the arrest and detention of 57 members of labour and civil society organisations in the Philippines.

“I call upon the Filipino government to immediately drop the trumped-up charges against Anne Krueger and all detained labour organizers. The sudden, widespread arrest of nearly 60 activists is a reprehensible fear tactic, clearly aimed at suppressing a growing movement for workers’ rights,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.

Mary-Anne Krueger (known as Anne) is an organiser for the contact centre workers’ association BIEN in the city of Bacolod. Anne and BIEN have been active in working with UNI Global Union in the Filipino contact centre sector.

Unifor supports the work of BIEN, and has a shared goal of good jobs for telecommunications workers around the globe.

The home of Anne Krueger, where she lives with her partner Michael de la Concepcion and five small children, was raided by armed Filipino police at 9 p.m. on October 31, 2019. According to reports, the offices of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) were also raided, and in both cases, witnesses report the planting of evidence.

“Anne and her fellow organizers deserve thanks from their government for their advocacy, not political retribution. Their labour family in Canada is watching, and demands their immediate release,” continued Dias.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

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