On Bonifacio Day, militants slam Aquino’s anti-worker policies, two-tier wage system

Nov. 30, 2012

While the plight of Filipino workers continues, the Aquino government worsens it with this year’s implementation of the two-tiered wage system through the Department of Labor and Employment.

Davao Today

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — As the country commemorated the 149th birthday of Andres Bonifacio — a working class hero and Father of the 1896 Philippine Revolution — militants here scored the continuing anti-worker policies of the government and vowed to continue the fight for workers’ rights.

On Friday morning, militants here held a forum on socialism at the Davao Medical Society in Brokenshire College.  In the afternoon, Anakpawis held its convention at the Bankerohan Gym which was attended by different labor unions like the Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Davao City Water District, Lapanday Box and Plastic Plant Workers Union among others.  After the convention, close to a thousand workers and supporters marched from Bankerohan to Bonifacio monument in Magallanes Street where they lit torches and burned a US flag.

Romualdo Basilio, chair of labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno in Southern Mindanao, criticized the Aquino administration for still refusing to implement a significant wage hike for the workers.

“Wala gyud gipanumbaling sa panggamhanang Aquino ang panawagan alang sa pagpatuman sa 125 across the board increase (The Aquino government never heeded the call to implement the 125 across the board wage increase),” Basilio told davaotoday.com.

“The 125-peso wage increase has been gathering dust in Congress as workers continue to suffer from meager wage, lack of benefits and contractualization,” Sheena Duazo, spokesperson of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) in Southern Mindanao, said in a statement.

Contractualization, according to Duazo, has marginalized and “reinforced inequality” among Filipino workers.  She explained that from the 38 million workers, only about 200,000 are considered as unionized.

“Aquino is faced with tough demands from the workers as he continues to protect the interests of foreign multinational corporations and local compradors who are the primary beneficiaries of tax holidays,” Duazo said.

While the plight of Filipino workers continues, the Aquino government worsens it with this year’s implementation of the two-tiered wage system through the Department of Labor and Employment.

‘Two-tiered wage system’

“It is deceptive and much worse than the tripartite system of wage setting,” KMU’s Basilio said.

Under the said system, Basilio explained, ordinary workers will always be at the losing end “as the government and the employers would always set the standards of salary increases.”

Under the said scheme, the so-called first tier is the floor wage that will be determined by the government based on the data of poverty threshold in every region of the country.

The second tier is the worst of all, Basilio complained, as it refers to the productivity-based pay set by the employers.  The increase, according to the second scheme, will depend on the productivity rate of the company or industry.

“Bonifacio Day is an avenue for ordinary workers to call for the junking of the two-tiered wage system and other policies of the Aquino government that directly decrease the value of the income of laborers and workers,” he said.

Basilio was also referring to the privatization of the basic services that are supposed to be the responsibility of the state to render to its constituents such as in the field of health, water and electricity.  Privatization of said utilities, he said, will further push ordinary workers to hunger and poverty.

Honoring a great revolutionary

“Ka Andres epitomized the liberating character of the working class.  His ideals and dreams for his people and his country has been immortalized as his revolution is consciously and conscientiously pursued by workers and peasants from all over the archipelago,” said labor advocate Omar Bantayan.

Bantayan said that since the 1896 revolution, a lot of things have changed but “the material basis for Bonifacio’s’ revolution is still present up to this day.”

He said workers are still being oppressed with depressed wages while landlessness remains the flavor of the day.  He added that at the helm of Philippine politics “is a ruling clique which comes from the haciendero class” yet the economy has never developed due to unfair economic ties.

“It is not enough to lay down wreaths of flowers at Bonifacio’s monuments.  To emulate Bonifacio is to be with the workers at their picketlines and to link up arms with the peasantry in their struggle for land.  This is the only way to honor the greatest Filipino revolutionary,” Bantayan said.  (Alex D. Lopez/davaotoday.com)

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