SOME 6,000 members of various labor and militant groups in Negros Occidental are expected to join the massive protest rally to commemorate the International Labor Day in the province on May 1.
Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) spokesperson Noly Rosales Wednesday, April 26, said they taking to the streets to call and demand for President Rodrigo Duterte to end contractualization.
Rosales said the Duterte administration failed to put an “absolute” stop to endo, or end of contract scheme, and instead workers continue to receive low wages, contractualization, and worsening working conditions.
“Under the Department Order (DO) No. 174, contractualization becomes a policy and a mere rehash of President Benigno Aquino’s anti-workers neo-liberal labor measure dictated by the International Monetary Fund-World Bank program for labor flexibility,” he added.
On March 16, Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III signed DO 174 that sets stricter guidelines for contractualization, superseding DO 18 providing the original guidelines on contracting and subcontracting.
For KMU-Negros, the order makes Negros Island a bastion of feudal and semi-feudal exploitation of labor with the existence of hacienda and the capitalists.
The group cited that the “kontratista” and “pakyawan” system of the haciendas are basically low – at P130 to P150 per day, with almost non-existing benefits.
Rosales said the rise in the prices of sugar does not reflect better lives for sugar workers as shown in their wages and working condition.
It has only expanded and upgraded the extravagant shopping list and leisure of the sugar hacienderos, millers, traders, and their families, he said.
“DO No. 174 has bared the true color of the president and that is being anti-poor,” Rosales said, adding they will also denounce during the rally the new wage order providing workers in the province daily minimum wage increases of P15 and P25.
For the workers, especially in the agriculture sector, the wage increase is just alms and cannot help sustain their families’ basic needs.
Rosales said they will continue to demand for the remaining P100 per day based on the proposed P125 across-the-board wage increase, and will support the push for a national minimum wage of P750 per day for private sector workers and P16,000 per month for those in the public sector.
The protest rally, meanwhile, will start at 1 p.m. Contingents from the south and north will assemble at the Provincial Capitol Lagoon and Lupit Church in Bacolod City, respectively, and will converge at the public plaza.
There will be a burning of the effigy symbolizing a neo-liberal Philippines being gripped by United States.
Aside from KMU, other militant groups like Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, National Federation of Sugar Workers, Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap as well as transport group United Negros Drivers and Operators Center, among others will also join the protest action.