BACOLOD

Group demands government subsidies for rice, sugar farmers

WORKERS belonging to the General Alliance of Workers’ Association (Gawa) is demanding government subsidies for rice and sugar farmers who are affected of the Rice and sugar tariffication laws.

“Government subsidies for our rice and sugar farmers is very important for their economic survival”, Gawa through its chair Wennie Sancho said.

Amidst the brouhaha over the adverse effects of the implementation of the Rice Tarrification Law on the economic plight of the rice farmers, we are raising our apprehension on the move of the industrial users and beverage companies to lobby for the importation of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) in lieu of domestic sugar. This is alarming for the workers in the sugar industry, Gawa said.

They added that the playing field in the sugar industry is being transformed in favor of sugar import liberalization. This will produced a few winners and a large number of losers. The winners will be the transnational corporations, the Chinese taipans and bankers involved in sugar trading and the stock market operation of big business corporations brokering business in international sugar market trading.

The losers include the workers and the farmers in the local sugar industry and agriculture who are discriminately and adversely affected by the economic liberalization policy of the government such as the Rice Tarrification Law and the impending Sugar Import Liberalization scheme which had emboldened the beverage companies to resurrect the issue on the importation of HFCS.

“The workers enhance our national competitiveness of our industries like rice and sugar by drowning us in a flood of imported rice and sugar which is not a solution. What we need is a forward-looking program of restructuring. Competitiveness is not something that automatically comes about as a result of simply opening our borders by lifting the quantitative restriction on imported rice and sugar,” Sancho in a statement said.

“The government should put substance to its call for workers empowerment through the empowerment of the masses. So far, the governments’ approach to economic development is through the classic trickle-down approach. This trickling down process can take forever before poverty can be wiped out in the country,” Sancho added.

Meanwhile, major labor groups forged a covenant of solidarity yesterday.

The groups include the National Congress of Unions in the Sugar Industry of the Philippines (Nacusip), Philippine Agricultural Commercial and Industrial Workers Union (Paciwu) led by Roland Dela Cruz and Hernani Braza and Congress of Independent Organizations (CIO), and Gawa led by Benjie Dela Cruz and Wennie Sancho.

The covenant according to the group aims to strengthen themselves as the primary social economic force and labor unions as the vehicle for social change and transformation.

“We pledge to assist and support one another by extending our collective strength and effort through collective social actions in support of our brothers and sisters who are on strike and by joining public rallies and demonstration to uphold the advocacy of the labor movement. We also pledged to champion the cause of the poor and the needy, more particularly to organize the unorganized workers and to defend them in our struggle against all forms of labor contractualization,” the group said.

They added that in their quest for labor justice they shall extend legal assistance to unorganized workers and shepherd them in the midst of their discontentment.

We shall oppose and expose all forms of labor exploitation and oppression by the unscrupulous employers in order to uphold the dignity of labor. We shall whole heartedly embrace and adopt the principle of social justice as the cornerstone of this Covenant of Solidarity. Social justice is not a mere catchy slogan to express concern for the plight of the poor and the downtrodden, particularly the workers in the sugar industry, threatened by the sugar import liberalization scheme.

The end of social justice is to ensure the dignity, welfare and security of all workers. The beneficiary of a social justice policy should rightly be, therefore the common worker, the “little man” so-called the slums dwellers, the landless, the tillers of the soil the laborers, the economically underprivileged, the group added.


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