21 November 2012
Across the country, workers held protest actions in front of offices of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) today (Nov. 21) to condemn the agency’s opposition to calls for a PHP125 across-the-board wage hike nationwide and for an end to contractual employment.
The protest in front of the Labor Department’s main office in Intramuros, Manila was led by the coalition ACT2WIN! (Action against Contractualization and Towards Significant Wage Increase Now!).
The alliance is composed of labor groups Alliance of Filipino Workers, Federation of Free Workers, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), National Federation of Labor, National Labor Union, Philippine Association of Free Labor Unions, as well as the Banks and Financial Unions vs. BSP Circular 268 and the Koalisyon ng mga Progresibong Manggagawa at Mamamayan.
To dramatize their protest, workers in Metro Manila tied themselves to the poles of the Labor Department’s main office, holding placards that bear their demands: Nakabubuhay na sahod (living wage),regular at disenteng trabaho (regular and decent jobs), karapatang mag-unyon (right to unionize).
KMU regional chapters in Bicol, Southern Mindanao, Panay, and Central Visayas trooped to DOLE’s regional offices to hold protests.
“Workers are getting angrier as we get hungrier. We are revolted that this government has refused to significantly increase workers’ wages and junk contractual employment,” said Elmer ‘Bong’ Labog, KMU chairperson.
“This government has rejected calls for a significant wage hike while allowing the prices of goods and services to increase. It has the gall to allow another round of increases in the rates of various forms of public utility,” he added.
KMU slammed the Aquino government for increasing fees for government transactions via Administrative Order 31, for allowing power and water rate hikes, and for pushing for fare hikes in the MRT and LRT.
“This government has not only failed to provide workers some form of relief from the rising prices of basic goods and services, but is increasing the burden on workers’ backs by hiking rates that are under its control,” Labog said.
“Workers’ calls for a significant wage hike and the junking of contractual employment are bound to get louder in the coming weeks and months. Workers’ families are already suffering from hunger and poverty even before the government approved this latest round of rate hikes,” he added.
KMU said the increase in strikes and other workplace protests this year shows that workers are fighting back against meager wages, contractual employment and other attacks on trade-union rights.
KMU cited the filing of notices of strikes in Lapanday Foods Corporation in Davao and other companies in Mindanao, the strikes in Bacolod Columbia and First Farmers in Negros Occidental, and the various forms of protests by workers of Pambato Cargo Forwarder, Inc., Coats Manila Bay, Inc. and Merck Inc., Philippines.
“Today’s protest is just a start. We shall intensify protests in the coming weeks and months,” Labog said.
Elmer “Bong” Labog