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  5. About APEC A message from the workers

 
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FOCUS September 1996 Volume 5

About APEC A message from the workers

We have served you well.
We can serve you even better.
But first...

As host to APEC 1996, the Philippine Government has given a substantial tax incentive package to all hotels that will house all our foreign guests. The incentive, which includes duty-free importations, was offered to encourage hotels to upgrade or renovate their facilities.

The Dusit Nikko Manila (formerly, Hotel Nikko Manila Garden) benefits from this tax incentive program. The new owners saw in this an opportunity to cut costs while giving the old Nikko Hotel a new face. The hotel is presently undergoing a six-month renovation that will end in time for APEC's highlight activities in November.

A newly-refurbished Dusit Nikko Hotel, with world-class facilities is a commendable project. Indeed, it is a project that we, the employees of the Dusit Nikko Hotel, who have served our guests for two decades, would want to be a part of--as partners.

For, no matter how exotic the cuisine, no matter how expensive the wares, no matter how exquisite the new design will be, a hotel will just be another stone-cold building to any guest without the warm, cordial, friendly, efficient service of its employees. Us. Because, more than anything else, making guests feel "at home" is a people-to-people thing. It's not just business, it's an art.

Yet, the Dusit Nikko's management doesn't seem to understand this.

For one, it seems that they don't treat us, their employees, as people. During the renovation, the hotel management has insisted not only on a "no-work, no-pay" policy, but more precisely, a "no-work, no-pay, no-benefit, no-assistance, if-you-don't-like-it-then-drop-dead" policy against us.

For months, 502 Nikko employees have been out of work. Many among us have been evicted from our homes for failure to pay the rent. Our children are forced to transfer to cheaper schools. We are forced to eke out a living by whatever means possible in these tough times. As if these are not enough, a handful of us are now confined in hospitals due to illnesses. Without any assistance from our employer, how can we survive?

We have tried to dialogue with them, reason with them, but they seem unmoved by our plight. A few days ago, they decided that they've heard enough. They shut the door on our face. Just like that.

So we come to you.

To the Philippine Government: Must you treat foreign investors like kings while your citizens are treated like rags? A tax incentive without guaranteeing workers' protection? Is this what the APEC is all about?

To Dusit Nikko's Stockholders: Must profit be made at the expense of the lives of workers and their families? Aren't you also morally responsible for this?

To Our Beloved Guests, and Guests-To-Be: We smile and give comfort as we suffer. Knowing this, we hope you will continue to enjoy the service.

On another issue...

Philippine media has been highlighting the plans of the Philippine government to demolish houses in a number of slum areas in Metro Manila in preparation for the APEC activities. Seen as "eyesores", a number of the slum areas have already been cleared without proper support services (food, medicine, and others) to the residents much less an appropriate relocation site. Families are literally thrown out in the street without a place to stay.

In New Zealand...

Two unidentified men broke into the home of a member of an anti-free trade group, GATT Watchdog, in July. New Zealand newspapers reported that the homeowner (Aziz Choudry) and another anti-free trade activist (David Small) suspect the involvement of Security Intelligence Service (a goverment agency) in the break-in. The following week, police searched the homes of Choudry and Small after a suspicious device bearing anti-APEC slogans was found in the city hall in Christchurch. Both deny any involvement. The security checks were done before the APEC Trade Ministers' conference in Christchurch.

The Philippine government also raised security alarm about the possible entry of "terrorists" into the country to disrupt the APEC meeting in November. This stance of the government may have implications on the NGO activities during the APEC meetings.


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