Message of Solidarity to NAFLU-KMU
on Its Golden Anniversary
By Jose Maria Sison
International League of Peoples' Struggle
June 3, 2007
In behalf of the International League of Peoples' Struggle (ILPS), I
take pleasure in extending our solidarity to the National Federation
of Labor Unions (NAFLU) on the occasion of the golden anniversary
of its founding on May 18, 1957. The ILPS can proudly speak to the
whole world of the brilliant and rich history of the NAFLU-KMU in
fighting for the immediate and long-term interests of the working class.
As a patriotic Filipino and comrade in the labor movement, I am elated
that we are paying homage to the struggles, sacrifices and successes
of the leaders, membership and unions of the NAFLU in upholding and
advancing genuine, militant and anti-imperialist unionism and the national
and democratic rights and interest of the entire Filipino people. On
this happy occasion, it is fitting that you renew your resolve based on
a 50-year experience in struggle, hold on to victories and boldly consolidate
It is a great honor to have been a contemporary and comrade-in-arms of
Ka Bert Olalia, the founder of NAFLU, in Lapiang Manggagawa (Workers'
Party) from the second half of 1962. We also helped each other out in
activating the peasant movement from 1963 onward. From Ka Bert
himself and the workers I came upon in the NAFLU office or joined in
studies, strikes and protest actions, I learned the importance of the
establishment of NAFLU in the history of the labor movement in the
NAFLU was established with the objective of reviving and activating the
workers' movement not only in the economic struggle for better wages,
job security and the right to unionize and strike within the exploitative
system of big compradors and landlords, but also in the political struggle
of the working class to attain political power towards a free, democratic,
just and progressive society.
NAFLU has an important role in upholding and actually taking the correct
path and in opposing openly the anti-worker policies of the state and its
agents, the yellow leaders who have been corrupted, trained and maintained
by imperialist agencies, big business and several Jesuit priests to deceive the
workers and lead them astray, after the state brutally crushed the Congress
of Labor Organizations during the early part of the decade of the 1950s.
With firm resolve and militance, NAFLU participated in all major efforts to
build a center of workers' federations and unions. It became a pillar in
establishing the Katipunang Manggagawang Pilipino in 1959. NAFLU also
joined in establishing Lapiang Manggagawa in 1962, the Movement for
the Advancement of Nationalism in 1966 and the Socialist Party of the
Philippines in 1967. In this connection, Ka Bert, the comrades from NAFLU
and I shared a lot of experiences.
Under the leadership of Ka Bert, NAFLU and MASAKA-Olalia opposed the
revisionists in MASAKA-Lava. From 1968, the progressive forces were able
to establish several federations and several unions when the Socialist Party
of the Philippines took the opportunist and reformist line. NAFLU and said
progressive forces cooperated continuously within the framework of the
workers' movement, the peasant movement and the movement to defend
democratic rights against the scourge of fascist dictatorship.
Regarding the First Quarter Storm and the worsening repression, NAFLU was
active in the MDP from 1970 and in the Movement of Concerned Citizens for
Civil Liberties from 1971. NAFLU participated in the widespread strikes in about
200 work places, from La Tondeņa in October 1975 up to January 1976.
NAFLU intensely opposed the anti-labor code of the fascist regime and its
attempts to impose its instrument, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines
(TUCP), on the workers' movement.
During the third week of November 1977, I was set to meet with Ka Bert
regarding the establishment of a legal workers' center to oppose the regime
and the TUCP. We were hoping then that the working class would rise in
revolt before the end of the decade of the 1970s. But I was captured by
the enemy on November 10, 1977. Nevertheless, the enemy was unable
to extinguish the concept and efforts to build the center of federations and
NAFLU and Ka Bert were constantly imbued with the resolve to participate in
building the workers' center, party or alliance. Such resolve is based on a good
foundation, on study, training and arduous struggle. Thus, NAFLU again became
a pillar in building Kilusang Mayo Uno or KMU (May First Movement) in 1980 in
the face of the brutal Marcos fascist dictatorship.
NAFLU expanded and strengthened in the course of performing its role in
invigorating KMU and in its struggle against the fascist regime. The workers
firmly trusted the KMU and NAFLU because of the integrity, steadfastness
and great courage of the leaders in the struggle, even to the extent of being
jailed and martyred as exemplified by Ka Bert and Ka Lando. NAFLU-KMU
steadfastly and heroically participated in overthrowing the Marcos fascist
dictatorship in 1986.
NAFLU's strength peaked in 1987. However, the hidden rotten and traitorous
leaders, who took the opportunist Right and "Left" lines, surfaced. Right
opportunism is characterized by economism, connivance with the capitalists
and the resultant corruption. "Left" opportunism is characterized by
insurrectionism, inadequately prepared strikes and the resultant prejudice to
and destruction of existing unions or unions in the process of formation.
It is good that since 1994, NAFLU has embarked on rectification to prevent
its decline and lay down a stable foundation for renewed strength. Eventually,
since 1996 NAFLU has improved in political and organizational unity and action.
NAFLU has been able to consolidate its unions even more. It has been able to
form new unions and attract unions formerly deceived by opportunists to return
to its fold.
Always there is danger that weaknesses and errors will emerge and worsen to
the point of destroying some parts or a whole federation or union. Therefore,
constant vigilance is imperative as well as doing what has be done in order to
enhance the strengths of the organization and overcome weaknesses. There
should be systematic studies, regular and prompt criticism and self-criticism and
firm unity with the working masses. There is always room for improving work
and style of work.
There are instances when certain big factors in the objective conditions are
detrimental or impede the development of work or action. Therefore, such
conditions must be sufficiently studied and overcome. For example, the 14-year
Marcos dictatorship became a big hindrance to the workers' movement. However,
the working class ultimately overcame and defeated it.
During the decade of the 1990s, you confronted not only the opportunists and
the yellow leaders but the imposition on workers as well of the neoliberal policy
and contractualization by the Ramos regime through downsizing, spin-off, rotation,
lay-off, retrenchment and runaway shops. To suppress workers' resistance, the
state used violent means to dismantle picket lines, order assumption of jurisdiction,
issue temporary restraining orders and enforce lockouts.
But, eventually, especially so in the first decade of the 21st century, excessive
exploitation and oppression resulted in more vigorous struggles of the workers
and renewed growth of workers' organizations. The NAFLU-KMU participated in
the process of overthrowing the rotten Estrada regime which succeeded in 2001.
The long history and present situation is not a wide and straight boulevard but
instead has twists and turns, ups and downs. Hence, organized forces like NAFLU
need to study the objective conditions and the subjective capabilities in order to
know the general run and direction of events and what has to be done to
overcome difficulties and advance the struggle.
The hardships of the toiling masses, as well as those in the middle stratum of
society, continue to aggravate due to the worsening crisis of the world capitalist
system and the domestic ruling system. In connection with the recently held
elections, the Arroyo regime boasts of the appreciation of the peso. But the
situation becomes worse whether the peso appreciates or depreciates. If it
appreciates, the regime has merely incurred bigger internal and external debt.
If it depreciates, getting more loans has become more difficult.
Living conditions are constantly worsening because the imperialists, the big
comprador-landlords and bureaucrat-capitalists squeeze the semifeudal and
backward economy under the neoliberal policy. The unemployed increase in
number. The prices of basic commodities are rising. Internal and external
debts are mounting. The people are taxed heavily. Poverty is widespread.
The majority of the Filipino people live on less than
$ 2.00 (PhP 94) a day.
Severe exploitation is accompanied by state terrorism through massacres,
assassinations, abductions, torture, forced evacuation and other flagrant
violations of human rights. These are the consequences of the "war on
terror" policy of the US and the acquiescence of the puppet Arroyo regime.
The regime is implementing the brutal Oplan Bantay Laya to serve the interests
of the imperialists and the local exploiting classes and to maintain itself in power
and suppress the ouster movement which emerged because of its cheating
during the 2004 election.
The Filipino people are further enraged now because of the shameless use by
the Arroyo regime of cheating, violence and public funds and equipment during
the recent elections to make it appear that the regime's candidates have won
and to prevent the impeachment of the fake president. The regime is prepared
to employ more force and deception. It is poised to use the Anti-Terror Law
in order to maintain itself in power and to aggravate even further the
exploitation and oppression of the working class and the Filipino people.
I am confident that you will take the 50th anniversary of the NAFLU as an
occasion to study the situation, sum up experiences, learn your strengths
and weaknesses and define the tasks that will underscore your strengths
and help you overcome your weaknesses. Thus, you will be able to raise
your fighting will and capability, and arouse, organize and mobilize further a
greater mass of workers in the labor movement and in the overall national
and democratic movement of the Filipino people.
Long live NAFLU-KMU!
Further strengthen the federation!
Long live the working class!
Advance the national-democratic movement!
Long live the Filipino people!