Thursday, 31 May 2007
Filipino unionist fears for his life Supermarket distribution workers have walked out in support of a Filipino trade unionist who had just learnt that his life or freedom is at risk for protesting against the Filipino President in New Zealand, says the National Distribution Union (NDU). Filipino trade union leader and spokesperson of the “Free Ka Bel Movement” Dennis Maga was calling his one year old son Elijah to say happy birthday when he learnt that his house was under surveillance by police and that he faces arrest on his return on Sunday. Mr Maga was invited by the NDU and Unite Union to talk to workers about the repression and killings of trade unionists, journalists and church leaders by the Filipino military and police. His visit coincided with a visit by the Filipino President Gloria Arroyo. Two-hundred previously locked out NDU Progressive distribution workers gave Mr Maga a standing ovation and walked out to mount a spontaneous show of solidarity on the same spot where they held their pickets last year. NDU site delegate Daniel Patea said that Filipino workers and unions had supported the locked out workers. “Filipino workers helped us when we struggled during our lockout last year and so giving support to Dennis who faces arrest and even assassination is the least we could do.” Mr Maga says that reliable sources have confirmed that he will be arrested or worse if he returns. “President Arroyo has told Helen Clark, your government and the interfaith dialogue that she is addressing human rights violations in our country,” he says. “But here I am, facing arrest for simply exposing the continuing abuses by our military and police.” The NDU and the Council of Trade Unions will be asking Helen Clark to get assurances from President Arroyo that he will not be arrested.