Bayanko partners with TUCP

FROM A DISTANCE - Carmen N. Pedrosa - The Philippine Star

Last Wednesday, Dec.10, Bayanko, the crowdsourcing movement for constitutional reform of the Philippines partnered with TUCP, the largest labor union movement in the Philippines.

Signing for the partnership agreement was its president, former senator Ernesto Herrera and vice-president Ruben Torres. TUCP has 4 million members. Earlier the Bayanko crowdsourcing movement had asked Herrera to be a member of the panel of advisers for Bayanko for drafting a new constitution.

Its 4 million members cover almost the entire spectrum of organized groups in the country — women, universities and farmers. Bayanko will sign partnership agreements with these groups in the next few days.

The scope for the partnership is wide and the numbers stupendous. But we hope the partnership will do more than just count the numbers. Inevitably the TUCP has the potential to be a well-oiled political machine for the majority. Something similar to the Labor Party of the UK and the Democratic Party in the US.

The TUCP-Bayanko partnership will work together to achieve that as a means of empowering the majority of the people. That means getting involved in policy making.

In my opinion, the labor movement in the Philippines should use its potential as an organized sector to bring about constitutional reforms needed by the country.  It has chapters all over the Philippines. It is not only about the number of members they have. Thursday’s signing of the partnership agreement was a major triumph for Bayanko’s constitutional reform crowdsourcing movement.

We hope that in time the partnership will help labor fulfill its role as a guardian of the people’s sovereignty similar to the Labor Party in the UK. It is a counterforce to the Conservative Party in Parliament where policies are debated and passed.

For a background of The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), here are the important points to know. It is the biggest confederation of labor federations in the Philippines. A Wikipedia entry writes it was founded on Dec. 14, 1975 by 23 labor federations which saw the necessity and importance of uniting themselves into a strong and dynamic labor center.

Today, the TUCP, is the most representative labor center in the country. It is composed of some 40 federations with members in all sectors and industries (from agriculture to manufacturing to services) including government employees and workers in the BPO industry. It also has members coming from associations/organizations of groups from migrant workers, the informal economy, drivers, urban poor, youth groups, cooperatives, alliances, coalitions and other civil society groups.

Like many others who are not informed, part of the work of the TUCP has been on migrant workers especially on violations of wage agreements by foreign employers where they are unable to get sufficient legal help.

On the other hand, TUCP’s work in the domestic labor scene continues towards building democratic organizations run/led by members. It is heartening to know that under Herrera’s leadership the workers movement is in good hands and is not limited to wage bargaining or strikes.

TUCP has been going from strength to strength because it remains focused in strengthening the workers movement and training skills patterned after the Singaporean labor organizations. As Herrera told Bayanko there are many economic opportunities open to Filipino workers without their having to go abroad. TUCP looks out for joint ventures with other labor groups abroad as connections for persuading factories to make their  products in the Philippines.  

Much of TUCP’s work is for an “an economic policy which promotes national interest and international competitiveness; and further strengthening internal and international solidarity among the unions of the world.”

It continues to recruit members while working for reforms in the labor movement. It also works with foreign partners in the promotion of green jobs and sustainable development.  It actively works against child labor and protects workers in the informal economy. Indeed, it has many members from the informal economy that includes street vendors.

Its partnership with Bayanko’s crowdsourcing movement would come in under civic advocacy.

TUCP runs a Workers’ College for skills training; implements socio-economic projects (including organic fertilizer production). So in a very real sense, although it is a labor movement it promotes employment possibilities at the same time. At the meeting we learned that it works not only for union members here but also for Filipinos and their families abroad with their connections.

TUCP is an affiliate of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and its Asia-Pacific Regional Organization (ITUC-AP). It is also the Secretariat of the ASEAN Trade Union Council (ATUC) which is composed of 15 National Centers in 9 ASEAN countries.

The Bayanko-TUCP partnership is consistent with its activities as a party-list. There is a Trade Union Congress Party.

The idea of a strong labor input in politics will help ensure the economic stability of the country especially if it is structured in a parliamentary federal government envisioned for the country by Bayanko.

By coincidence, after the partnership signing and as I write this column the UK’s Labor Party leader Ed Milliband announced that the party will actively set its own program for deficit cuts that will shield the worker and poor sectors from the Tory plan to reduce deficit spending.

Miliband said that the Tory fiscal plans will mean disintegration of public services.

Labor hopes a new, broader debate on the deficit has been opened up by the revelation in the autumn statement showing “the deficit was not falling as fast as planned due to an insecure labor market and falling living standards, in turn reducing tax receipts. He said Labor was locked in a fight for the soul of the country.” This is the kind of participation in government policy envisioned by TUCP.

* * *

In a post in Bayanko’s page in Facebook, member and adviser Jose Alejandrino said that the movement hopes to consolidate the different partnerships into a grand rainbow coalition. The group supported and continues to support the campaign to give the national award for actress Nora Aunor, an icon of the masses and considered as one of the best actresses the local movie industry has produced. She was denied the award by President Aquino.

Different organizations have now been formed to reverse this decision under a new government.

All the leaders of this multi-sectoral coalition will be asked to participate in the drafting of a new Constitution, together with inputs from a panel of advisers and Bayanko members.












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