UP LAW LABOR CLUSTER HOLDS A WEBINAR ON THE KEY ISSUES SURROUNDING UNIONISM AT THE TIME OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
The UP College of Law Labor Law Cluster successfully hosted its 4th webinar entitled “Unionism in the Time of Covid: Legal and Practical Issues” on 29 May 2021, attended by over 500 participants. It was livestreamed via Facebook page, with 137 plays, 30 shares, 72 reactions and 4 comments. The participants included Deans and professors, and students from the U.P. College of Law and other law schools across the country.
The webinar session was aimed to inform and enlighten the law students on the organizational vision, mission and goals of the labor organizations, the legal or other issues, problems and concerns that workers face in the time of Covid-19, and how labor organizations meet the challenges before them.
Leaders and officers of major labor organizations were invited as resource persons, namely: Mr. Alan Tanjusay, the National Spokesperson and Policy Advocacy Officer of the Associated Labor Unions, Atty. Jose Sonny Matula, the President of the Federation of Free Workers, Mr. Salvador Carranza of the National Federation of Labor Unions, and Mr. Josua Mata, the Secretary General of the Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO). Each one of them gave and shared informative and comprehensive legal and practical issues in their respective organizations.
The speakers discussed new challenges faced by the members of the labor sector at the time of the pandemic, as well as old ones exacerbated by the lockdown. They noted that one of the key struggles was engaging in organization and related activities, as they had difficulty in determining and adjusting to oft-changing protocols. This hindered union membership as the speakers noted the significance of face-to-face interactions in orientations. Further, workers who are already suffering from significant wage reductions still bear the costs of swab tests and PPEs, among others. The pandemic, according to the speakers, also revealed the long-standing structural problems of the labor framework in the country. Apart from mass lay-offs, workers have been largely involved in terminations amounting to union busting. During the lockdowns, trade union leaders and members have also been victimized by baseless red-tagging and accusations, which lead to raids, falsification of evidence, and killings. According to the speakers, this practice is the most pervasive means of undermining and violating the workers’ right to freedom of association.
The webinar was concluded with the final appeal from each of the resource persons, asking lawyers and future lawyers to help the labor sector as they continue their fight for workers’ rights and welfare in the difficult time of COVID-19.