‘After 3 Labor Days, nothing significant’

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Thursday, May 2, 2013


ON LABOR Day, some organized groups belabored their point: that the administration of President Benigno Aquino III has neglected the labor sector.

“Insults, instead of non-wage benefits, were announced by President Aquino in a dialogue (the other day). Workers still have received nothing significant from Aquino after three Labor Days,” said Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) Chairman Renato Magtubo in a press statement.

Dennis Derige, also of PM, said the President rebuffed their requests during the dialogue, to the workers’ dismay.

Art Barrit, education director of the Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP), said the issues raised during the rally in Cebu City’s Fuente Osmeña include the need for another wage increase, relief from high power rates, and an end to the use of contractual labor.

Barrit said that ALU-TUCP has 42 affiliates or local unions from different organizations, including the Oriental Port and Allied Services Corp. (Opascor).

In his speech, Antonio Cuizon of the Panaghiusa sa Mamumuo sa Carmen Copper (PAMCC) accused the officials of the Department of Labor (Dole), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), who all serve in the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB), of conniving with the management to stop wage increases.

Labor Day rally in Cebu City
A VOCAL WORKOUT. About 200 persons, according to a police official’s estimate, joined the Labor Day protest in Cebu City’s Fuente Osmeña on Wednesday afternoon. (Alex Badayos)

The RTWPB is composed of two representatives from the labor sector, two representatives from the management, the director of Neda as member, director of DTI as vice chair, and the director of Dole as chair.

Another rally was held by Anakpawis and Bayan-Visayas on Colon St., in front of the Metro Gaisano. There, the protesters demanded the abolition of the RTWPB and called on Congress to legislate their demand for P100 wage increase.

Bayan Chairman Jaime Paglinawan said that because the RTWPB is serving the interest of capital owners rather than looking after workers, it should be abolished and Congress should set wage rates.

Jose Tomungha of the Alliance of Progressive Labor and lawyer Ernesto Carreon of ALU-TUCP, both labor representatives to the RTWPB-Central Visayas, said they are always outvoted in favor of the employers.

The Central Visayas wage board has approved the applications of 17 companies to be exempted from the newest wage increase for one year, until December 7, 2013.

The Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) estimated some 300 members from different groups joined various rallies in the city on Wednesday.

CCPO Acting Director Mariano Natuel Jr. estimated some 200 people who went to Fuente Osmeña and nearly a hundred downtown.

One crowd dispersal management team was on standby, while the police were fielded to the protest areas. It was peaceful, though.

“Lahi na man ron kay dili na kaayo intense ang mga tawo kung mag rally inig Labor day. Wala ra ma’y kagubot nahitabo (Things are different now; the Labor Day rallies aren’t as intense. There was no trouble),” added Natuel.

In Davao City, workers and members of militant groups called on the government to put a stop on unfair labor practices and prioritize the workers over the capitalists.

Labor Day rally in Davao City
DAVAO. Job hunters flooded The Atrium of Gaisano Mall of Davao as they try to land a job in Labor Day Job Fair spearheaded by the Department of Labor and Employment. (King Rodriguez)

Workers from all over Southern Mindanao trooped to the Freedom Park where they held a program before marching toward the Rizal Park for another rally Wednesday afternoon.

Kilusang Mayo Uno-Southern Mindanao chair Romualdo Basilio said they are demanding for a P125 across-the-board wage hike and an end to massive contractualization happening not only in the Davao Region, but true all over the country.

Joel Maglunsod, vice president for external affairs of Anakpawis Partylist, also expressed his dissatisfaction.

Maglunsod lambasted President Benigno Aquino III's boasting of increase in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and Gross National Product (GNP), saying that only foreign investors and hacienderos felt the effect of the increases.

In Cagayan de Oro City, labor groups also demanded for decent jobs and higher wages.

Teresita Hadman, KMU district coordinator for Northern Mindanao, in a statement, said the prescribed minimum wages among agricultural and non-agricultural workers in the region are “insufficient when faced with the glaring reality of sky-rocketing prices of basic commodities of recent times.”

“Ubos gihapon kaayu ang ginadawat nga suholan sa mga mamumuo sa NMR. Kulang kaayu sa inadlaw-adlw nga palaliton sa pamilya sa mga mamumuo. (The workers in NMR still receive very low wages. This is not enough for the daily expenses of the workers families),” Hadman said.

According to Hadman, what adds insult to injury is the non-compliance of several establishments to the prescribed minimum wage rates, “paying their workers with wages far below the wage order.”

Wildon Barros, Makabayan’s regional coordinator, said that for years, the group has been calling for a P125 wage increase considering that workers in Region 10 still receive very low wages that cannot compensate with the daily expenses of the families.

“We urge the President to pass the P125 wage increase, provide more stable jobs and control the almost weekly price increases,” Barros said. (Sun.Star Cebu/Sun.Star Davao/BOT/ACKM/ALR/EOB/JBT/Sunnex)

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