Philippine Workers Under Attack, Solidarity Tour, Mylene Cabalona
SF Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines & International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philipines, United States
June 27, 2022
As part of the Kapit-Bisig [Link Arms]: Solidarity Tour for Labor Under Attack in the Philippines, Filipino worker-leaders are visiting the United States to strengthen solidarity with unions, worker organizations, and community groups based in the US, as well as educate them on the situation of workers in the Philippines in the face of attacks against the labor movement there and intensifying worker struggles globally. Mylene Cabalona (President of BIEN) was invited to join the AFL-CIO convention from June 10-15 in Philadelphia. Mylene just visited Washington DC by invitation of Communication Workers of America (CWA) for lobbying advocacy work.
The Philippines was named by the International Trade Union Confederation as one of the worst countries for trade unionists due to the persistent violations of labor rights and relentless killings of worker leaders. State repression has been used to curtail the right to unionize. 43 unionists have been assassinated under the Duterte administration. With the fraudulent election of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. and Sara Duterte—the children of tyrants Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. and Rodrigo Duterte—as president and vice president, we can only expect trade union repression and the infringement on workers rights to worsen.
This repression is a response to the work of militant unions that are at the forefront of ensuring the rights and welfare of workers in the Philippines. For example, the BPO Industry Employee Network (BIEN) was the first union for call center workers in the Philippines. Through the formation of BIEN, workers have been able to fight back against the many abuses of the industry: low wages, lack of job security, contractualization, intensifying workloads through increasingly strict monitoring and metrics, and unsafe working conditions.
Mylene Cabalona will be sharing the conditions and struggles facing workers in the Philippines. Cabalona has been a tenacious leader and a fierce feminist advocate. She has been at the fore-front of the BPO worker’s campaign for better working conditions, safe-workplaces and to stop flexible labor in the BPO industry. She advocates for union-building and upholding the right to free association. She is also responsible for international networking and linkages for the organization. Very recently, she spoke at the opening of RightsCon 2022 along with the Prime Minister of New Zealand, a minister in Ukraine and an Afghan journalist.
Workers in the Philippines are the decisive force in the struggle against tyranny and the movement to reject the Marcos-Duterte regime. International worker solidarity is needed now more than ever to support Filipino workers and the Filipino people at large in the struggle for rights, livelihood, and genuine democracy.