Those who make our lives work better | SunStar

Those who make our lives work better

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Those who make our lives work better

Saturday, October 07, 2017

For once, the spotlight veers away from celebrities and social media stars, and finds the individuals who “help us do some chores, bring us to other places, cook our food, push merchandise, run engines, secure our homes, keep our surroundings clean.”

In their Facebook page, the students who shot and curated these photos say that Under 10 was meant “to bring to the fore the invisible struggles of the men and women who make do with a take-home wage of below P10,000 a month.” (Contributed Foto/Karina Celicious)

A MOTHER misses the chance to feed the baby herself because she is in someone else’s household, feeding someone else’s baby.

Their own lives take the backseat, in the name of work, for the sake of earning a living, all for the family back home. Their struggles are masked by their smiles, just as a full-time crew service of a local fast food chain tries to be patient with complaints from the long queue of customers, most of them oblivious to the struggles of the crew behind the counters.

Some of us are unaware of the irony of cursing service workers, hoping they lose their job over a little inconvenience when it’s also probably their last month of employment due to contractualization.

Crustie Torreon, 19, like thousands or perhaps even millions of other Filipinos, is a contractual worker. He works as a gasoline station operator in one of the Shell gas stations in Cebu City. He works with six other individuals in filling customers’ fuel tanks, cleaning gas pumps, wiping windshields.

These tasks allow Crustie to get the lowest pay permitted by law, P366 per day for a full eight-hour shift. After all the deductions, his total monthly take-home pay is P8,400, paid in equal parts every 15th and 30th of the month.

“The pay I get is enough,” he said. “I think it’s enough for the job I do here.” But after his contract ends, he must apply again and renew it to be able to do the same job for another five months with the same basic pay. His present situation worries him; he has one big goal after all—to send each one of his siblings to school.

Conditions

While contractualization has deprived many laborers of the opportunity to have long-term employment and benefits, regular workers are also subjected to unfair labor policies and sometimes inhumane working conditions.

“Regular (unta) pero bisag casual na lang unta ba kay naay benefits, insurance. PAG-IBIG ra (man) amoa. Sa one year naa silay five days leave with pay. Holiday, mu trabaho mi. No work, no pay. (A regular position is ideal but a casual position will be fine since they have benefits and insurance. Maintenance job order workers like us only have PAG-IBIG benefits. But for the casuals, in a year, they get to have five days leave with pay. But us, even on holidays, we work. No work, no pay.),” shared Risa Gabunada, a 32-year-old maintenance worker at the Plaza Independencia in Cebu City.

Last week, the stories of these workers were featured in the University of the Philippines Cebu’s Jose T. Joya Gallery, in a photojournalism excursion into the lives of workers earning below P10,000 a month.

Dubbed “Under 10,” the exhibit of black and white photographs and stories is a project of the Mass Communication program’s Journalism 103A class.

“They are portraits of people who are most likely familiar to you,” the students said in their Facebook Page.

“Familiar in the sense that they are the people who help us do some chores, bring us to other places, cook our food, push merchandise, run engines, secure our homes, keep our surroundings clean.”

The exhibit shows the different struggles of the country’s laborers and puts the marginalized in the spotlight, using art to promote their cause.

While it does not propose solutions or ways to end the current injustice in our employment system, the exhibit aims to spread awareness and nudge people not to take their struggles for granted, and that we should treat them like how we treat white-collar workers—with respect and dignity, and acknowledge their efforts and contributions to society and our daily lives. (Melissa Francine O. Quinal, Contributor

Last week, the stories of these workers were featured in the University of the Philippines Cebu’s Jose T. Joya Gallery, in a photojournalism excursion into the lives of workers earning below P10,000 a month.

Dubbed “Under 10,” the exhibit of black and white photographs and stories is a project of the Mass Communication program’s Journalism 103A class.

Check out their Facebook page: facebook.com/LifeOnTheMinimum

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