Peoples’ Organizations Slam ADB’s Anti-Worker, Anti-People Policies

As the Bank holds its Annual Governors’ Meeting in Manila
Peoples’ Organizations Slam ADB’s Anti-Worker, Anti-People Policies

May 4, 2018 (Manila, Phillippines) – Civil society and peoples’ organizations in Manila denounce the Asian Development Bank (ADB) as it holds its annual governors’ meeting on May 3-6.

Ken Ramos, Deputy General Secretary of International League of Peoples’ Struggles stressed the urgency of peoples’ struggle against international financial institutions such as the ADB in light of their renewed efforts to further entrench the big business as the main engine of development.

“The Bank’s aggressive promotion of private sector-led growth is particularly concerning for poor workers in the Philippines and the entire region as they are the ones who are made to pay for corporations’ ever increasing hunger for profits. In the context of poor and underdeveloped countries, private sector-led development means deregulation of labor standards, contractualization schemes, and union busting,” according to Lumang.

Representative Arlene Brosas of Gabriela Women’s Partylist criticized ADB’s regional cooperation and integration as a modus to enforce mega trade deals that would diminish workers’ rights and welfare.

“New free trade agreements in the region that are supported by the ADB affront laws and government regulatory measures, not only to hinder the expansion of peoples’ rights, but also to forfeit and push back the historical gains achieved by the people through their perseverance and collective action, such as minimum wage, security of tenure, 8-hour work, the right to form unions, and benefits such as paid maternity leave,” said Brosas.

George San Mateo of Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators denounced the ADB’s role in demolishing the livelihood of thousands of jeepney drivers in the country by financing the government’s jeepney phase out plan.

“We in the transport sector do not feel the so-called development being hyped by the ADB. The “phaseout” of jeepneys aided and supported by the ADB shows that the government and the Bank do not have a clear plan for development of the transport sector for the people. Mitsubushi, Hino and other Japanese corporations want to control the mode of transport in the Philippines. Like the private sector stranglehold of our metro rail system, the threat of enlarged corporate role would result in higher fares”.

Meanwhile, BPO workers are alarmed of ADB’s downplaying of the negative impacts of the rising trend in job automation in some industry sectors.

Initial survey of data estimate by the International Labor Organization reveals that 89% of BPO workers in the Philippines are at high risk due to changes in technology.

“The threats posed by job automation to BPO professionals are real concerns of worry, contrary to ADB’s assurances. Already, BPOs in the country implement various schemes to manage out employees such through forced resignation or rendering them floating for months without pay when clients pull out from vendors, even as the companies continuously hires for other clients. Job losses due to automation will only worsen our plight,” said Jimmy Borromeo, Deputy Secretary General of BPO Industry Employees Network (BIEN).

ADB’s strategy towards corporate monopoly

Ivan Enrile, campaign coordinator of People Over Profit, stressed that ADB’s Strategy 2030 that outlines the Bank’s engagement with developing countries until the year 2030 is nothing but a rehash of its previous approach to transferring natural wealth and public assets to private companies across the region.

Some of Strategy 2030 proposals include unlocking private capital in mega-infrastructure projects and privatizing public services which will have severe negative implications to peoples’ rights

“Strategy 2030 is a big corporate trap. Its thrust towards scaling PPPs will channel public money to big businesses’ pockets thanks to guarantees attached to contracts designed to entice private capital. It will further empower foreign monopolies that have the capital, the technology, know-how, and political clout to corner construction and transport sectors in developing member countries”, said Enrile.

April Porteria of Center for Environmental Concerns lambasted ADB’s continued sponsorship of dirty energy in the country that belies the Bank’s posturing as advocate for sustainable development.

“ADB’s support for the Duterte government’s Build, Build, Build program and coal projects in the pipeline proves the Bank’s role in the destruction of the environment and debt enslavement of the Philippines. It fortifies the country’s dependency on foreign capital that further forfeits our prospects towards achieving national industrialization and rebuilding of our local economy along sustainable path and responsible use and management of our natural resources,” said Porteria.

Kurniawan Sabar of Institute for National and Democratic Studies (Indonesia) castigated the ADB for ignoring the negative impacts to human rights of the Bank’s investments in plantations in Indonesia.

“Communities of poor farmers and indigenous peoples in Indonesia are now being forcedly displaced from their land to give way to ADB-funded plantation projects. In some instances, mass leaders of peoples’ organizations fighting for their rights are being intimidated, jailed, or killed. ADB has evidently failed to stand up for human rights in Indonesia and in the region,” according to Sabar.

Peoples’ movements and civil society renewed their long standing call for the dismantlement of ADB as an instrument for perpetuation of poverty and inequality in the region. ###

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