Labor groups back 2-day transport strike in Bacolod City

TWO labor groups have expressed support to the two-day transport strike on Monday and Tuesday, June 5 and 6, in Bacolod City which will be participated by a group of drivers and operators in Negros and Panay who are opposing the proposed phase-out of public utility vehicles 15 years and older.

Among these is the General Alliance of Workers Association (Gawa) in Negros that showed support for the United Negros Drivers and Operators Center (Undoc).

“We believe that if the phase-out of PUVs will be implemented, it will result to massive unemployment of drivers that will cause suffering and poverty of their respective families,” said Wennie Sancho, secretary-general of Gawa.

He said the government has not offered any alternative to the drivers and operators who will be affected by the phase-out.

“To me this is an added form of injustice to the poor and the masses who are already suffering from hunger and poverty. We strongly condemn the unjust policy of government,” Sancho added.

In Bacolod City, Undoc will hold the transport strike from 4 a.m. on Monday until 2 p.m. on Tuesday.

Diego Malacad, secretary-general of Undoc, said the transport strike will push though despite the opening of classes because it has already been set by its mother organization Pinagkaisang Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide and all the papers and permits have been prepared.

“It has been organized and synchronized nationwide. We would like to appeal to everyone to cooperate with us because this will affect everyone if there will be no transport vehicles left on the roads,” Malacad said.

For its part, militant labor group Partido Manggagawa also expressed solidarity with the jeepney drivers who are on strike in Panay and Negros.

“Workers do not oppose modernization and the shift to environmentally-friendly public transportation but the transition must be just. Social justice must accompany social progress. The lives and livelihood of thousands of jeepney drivers cannot be sacrificed in the name of change,” said Elmer Blancaflor, spokesperson for PM-Iloilo, said in a press statement.

“We understand and sympathize with the plight of our fellow workers. The temporary inconvenience of the transport holiday cannot compare with the permanent blow that the phase-out will inflict on jeepney drivers. We hope for the understanding of employees, students and commuters who are affected. The fight of jeepney drivers is our fight too,” Blancaflor added.

The group is supporting a just transition for the jeepney sector, including transition of five years before full implementation of the phase-out; assistance and subsidies to operators for the replacement of jeepneys; ban on the importation of old and surplus engines and second-hand vehicles; and study on the most appropriate alternative to jeepneys such as electric jeeps or hybrid, LPG or Euro4 engines. (with reports from TDE)
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