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The global trade union movement puts the Philippine government on notice: hands off human and trade union rights defenders!

Today, Human Rights Day, Education International, its affiliates and the global trade union movement stand with trade unionists and all those who defend human rights in the Philippines.

For far too long, voices critical of the Philippine government have been labelled terrorists and enemies of the state to discredit them and make them vulnerable to attacks. This is a propaganda technique called red tagging. Many teachers, workers, trade unionists, journalists and human rights defenders have been targeted in this way. 

 

A climate particularly dangerous for teachers and their union

Just a few weeks ago, a teacher member of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) – the Education International (EI) affiliate in the Philippines - was shot 6 times in her classroom, in front of her students. This is just the latest in a long list of horrible attacks.  

Many members of ACT have been profiled by the national police, have been followed in the streets and received death threats.

 

Global trade unions stand against repression

This 10 December, EI has teamed up with global union colleagues in Building and Wood Worker's International, the International Federation of Journalists, IndustriALL, the International Transport Workers' Federation, the International Trade Union Confederation, International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations, Public Services International and UNI Global Union to raise awareness of the situation and send the Philippine government a clear message: hands off teachers, workers, trade unions, journalists and all human rights defenders. 

The global unions have sent a joint protest letter to the Duterte government, condemning the intensification of the harassment and repression against trade unions and requesting the Philippine authorities to:

  • guarantee the security and safety of all union members and leaders;
  • respect workers’ fundamental rights as guaranteed by international standards, including the ILO Convention on Freedom of Association ratified by the Philippines in 1953;
  • allow unions to operate without government interference;
  • investigate the many allegations of murders of trade unionists and anti-union violence;
  • accept to host an ILO high level tripartite mission before the next ILO conference.

 

A great wave of solidarity

Across the world, trade unionists are organising protest actions in front of the Philippine embassy in their countries, delivering a protest letter to the Philippine government via the embassy.

Attending the protest in Brussels, David Edwards, EI General Secretary, stated: “The Duterte government is waging war on teachers, trade unions, journalists, human rights defenders and everyone who dares to criticize or dissent. We cannot stand by and allow this to go on. Today and every single day we support our colleagues in the Philippines to resist the pressure and repression, to take the government to court, to keep fighting the good fight. For their sake, for the sake of their students and their country.”

A LabourStart petition to support teachers in the Philippines is available in 16 languages and can be signed here

For more background information, read the blog by Raymond Basilio, ACT General Secretary, and listen to our EdVoices podcasts with Filipino journalist Maria Ressa and with former ACT leader, elected Member of the Philippine Parliament and Arthur Svensson International Prize for Trade Union Rights recipient France Castro