[WAC news alert] Ground breaks, seeds of hope planted for proposed labor center

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Workers' Assistance Center

Apr 30, 2007, 12:36:06 AM4/30/07
to WAC news alert

A press release by the Worker's Assistance Center, Inc. (WAC)

April 30, 2007

Ground breaks, seeds of hope planted for proposed labor center

To advance the worker's rights and welfare, even former foes and
critics could work together for a common cause.

While an enormous work, including finances, has yet to be done and
mobilize to materialize the construction of proposed labor center
located in Barangay Salitran I, Dasmarinas, Cavite, this already
symbols another seed of hope for worker's to have another place where
they could come to for help and assistance. The center will be called
"Bahay Kalinga para sa mga Manggagawa".

This would be the second labor center servicing and providing
assistance to workers, in particular from the Philippine Economic Zone
Authority (PEZA). The first ever labor center had long been operating
since early 90s in Rosario--the Bahay Manggagawa. Since the first
labor center operates, it had already served a number of workers and
labor unions within and outside the province.

Given the pressing needs and the worsening condition of workers, a
need to develop another labor center to expand the service had been
sought and come out. This dream was given hope when the former
governor, whom the workers had previously severely criticized and
fought with on his labor policies, had offered to do his share to
improve the lives of workers in Cavite.

On April 28, Cavite former governor lawyer Juanito "Johnny" Remulla
and Fr. Jose Dizon, executive director of the Worker's Assistance
Center (WAC), have signed a 25-year lease agreement for the WAC to
occupy his 230 square meter lot where the center will be built during
a ground breaking ceremony.

The parcel of land is valuable for Remulla since it was the first lot
that Remulla earned as lawyer's fee in his early days of practicing
law. Remulla acquired the lot in his first winning case in 1959,
three years after he graduated law. For nearly 50 years owning the
said land, Remulla instead chose to "donate" the land for the cause of
workers' sector. The lease only cost very small amount of annual fee
per year.

During the groundbreaking, the signed lease contract was place inside
a bottle and buried together with the hardwood Narra tree to symbolize
the seed of hope.

The proposed labor center aims to provide labor training and seminar
on basic workers' rights and welfare, legal education on Philippine
Labor Code and legal services, programs on occupational health and
safety, and organizing program. The center will be beneficial
primarily to the workers in at least three big municipalities of
Dasmarinas, Imus and Carmona, all in Cavite, wherein there have been a
number economic zones in their area.

WAC had earlier constructed Bahay Manggagawa to which has been serving
the workers of Cavite Economic Processing Zone (Cepz) which is now
PEZA, the largest economic zone in the country which employs around
80,000 industrial workers. Striving to stay in close proximity to the
workers, WAC felt the need to set to put another center within the
next two years in the newly leased lot in Dasmarinas.

After having leased the lot for the proposed center, the WAC will then
have to source out financial support required to construct and manage
the labor center. This, however, is WAC have yet to materialize and
had asked the local and international community to do their share as
well by giving donations, in particular for financial support for the
labor center's construction.

WAC earned its reputation of consistent and unwavering bias for the
workers and as a resolute advocate for workers' rights and welfare.
Since it was first established in 1995 as a parish-based program
formerly, it has persisted in its mission to equip the workers with
knowledge on labor laws and workers' rights through education
seminars, assist them in organizing and in their struggles, and,
provide them free legal assistance, among others.

Also present during the groundbreaking were Remulla's son, Congressman
Gilbert Remulla of 2nd district of Cavite, leaders and members of the
Solidarity of Cavite Workers (SCW), an alliance of labor organisation
and leaders of the Samahan ng Manggagawa sa EMI-Independent, a labour
union of a Japanese owned factory in Imus and the biggest company in

Others joining the ceremony were Gubernatorial candidate Archie Gadang
and Mayoralty candidate Victor Carungcong and his colleagues, lawyers
Lucien Sayuno and Noel Neri of the Pro-Labour Assistance Center
(PLACE), La Salle social action group, EMI-Yazaki management
representatives, church representatives and the local barangay
(village) officials in the area.

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