Protesters push for wage hike, oppose transport modernization

Labor Day rally held in front of the Bacolod City Public Plaza on Wednesday, May 1, 2024.
Labor Day rally held in front of the Bacolod City Public Plaza on Wednesday, May 1, 2024. Carla Cañet photo

Multi-sectoral groups led by Bayan Muna and its umbrella organizations staged a rally in front of the public plaza at Araneta Gonzaga Street in Bacolod City on the commemoration of Labor Day on Wednesday, May 1.

The protesters include workers, sugarcane farmers, traditional jeepney drivers, and other militant sectors who expressed their grievances against the policies of the national government.

Resource speaker Ferdinand Gaite, former Bayan Muna party-list representative and currently the adviser of the group Courage, said that the government should listen to the vital concerns of the people, especially on the proposed increase in salaries in both the private and public sectors.

For now, most people in the working class suffer inadequate salaries against their daily demand for basic commodities and other basic needs, he said.

He said that in Bacolod City and the province of Negros Occidental, the minimum wage is P480 in the private sector,  and less than that for agricultural workers.

The ideal daily living wage rate should be P1,200, he said.

For those working in the public sector, the monthly salary should be P33,000 per month, he said, while for the teachers and nurses, their salary should be P50,000 per month.

The Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), Partido ng Manggagawa, Buklurang Manggagawang Pilipino, Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, Sentro at Sanlakas, and other labor organizations moved for the salary increase from P150 and up that could help families alleviate their economic conditions.

TRANSPORT MODERNIZATION

Gaite called on the drivers and operators of public utility jeepneys and buses to continue to oppose the implementation of the Public Utility Vehicles Modernization Program, with a deadline of April 30 for drivers and operators to join cooperatives as part of the consolidation required under the PUVMP.

They condemned the phasing out of traditional and small transport utility vehicles, which will not only affect the drivers and operators but the commuting public as well.

They also called on the government leaders to trash out this transport modernization program.

There was a complaint filed before the Supreme Court by Bayan Muna long-time chair Neri Colmenares to stop the transport modernization program as it is violating the rights of the operators as holders of the franchise.

Under the PUVMP, their privilege of being franchise holders was canceled, which badly affected the main source of their livelihood, including the drivers and their families, who rely on their daily source of income in the traditional jeepney and bus operations.

These small transport groups should fight for this valid cause, he said.*

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