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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 and expand.

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 Philippines.

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 unions.

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!

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