Joining the People’s SONA protests, workers led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno called on President Rodrigo Duterte to discuss his plans on addressing workers’ demands on his first State of the Nation Address.
“Workers join today’s march to Batasan to show our willingness to support President Duterte in implementing pro-worker and pro-people reforms such as ending of contractualization and raising workers’ wages. We expect him to present concrete plans on how his administration aims to address our workers’ demands,” Elmer “Ka Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson said.
Carrying giant gears that spells out “Kontraktwalisasyon Ibasura”, workers urged Duterte to fulfill his commitment to end the rampant labor contractualization in the country. Independent think-tank IBON foundation estimates that four out of ten (43.5%) rank-and-file workers are hired under various contractual employment schemes.
“Workers are eager to hear President Duterte’s plans on how he would end contractualization in the country. All forms of contractualization must stop. Both the legal job contracting and the illegal labor only contracting should be banned as they both violate basic workers’ rights,” Labog said.
The KMU earlier proposed immediate and actual measures to curb contractualization such as signing an Executive Order regularizing all workers employed under contractual employment schemes for more than 6 months, junking of Department of Labor and Employment Order 18-A that institutionalized contractualization under the Aquino administration, and ordering the “super-majority” to prioritize the passage of the House Bill 556 or the Regular Employment Bill filed by Anakpawis Partylist.
The labor center also called on President Duterte to support Filipino workers’ clamor for a National Minimum Wage of seven hundred and fifty pesos (P750) a day for private sector employees and sixteen thousand pesos (P16,000) monthly for government employees.
“Workers’ demand for a National Minimum Wage is just and achievable. It would give immediate relief against the growing hunger and poverty among workers and their families. It must be aimed at bringing all existing wage levels closer to the living wage,” said Labog.
The KMU claimed that the P481 minimum wage in the National Capital region, the highest wage level in the country, does not even come half of the P1,096 estimated Family living wage. Labog also cited IBON foundation’s study showing almost half (46.1%) of wage and salary workers earn below the minimum wage, 24.6% are able to receive the minimum wage, and only 29.4% receive higher than the minimum wage.
Workers also carried banners showing faces of detained unionists and labor rights defenders to express their demand for the resumption of the peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and for the release of all political prisoners.
“Workers are also looking forward the resumption of the GPH-NDFP peace talks and the release of all political prisoners including unionists and labor rights defenders. The peace talks would serve as a venue to raise workers’ demands while the release of political prisoners would ensure that both parties honor previously signed agreements,” Labog said.
The KMU is optimistic that Duterte would stay committed to his promise of a meaningful change in the country and expressed willingness to support his pro-worker and pro-people policies.
“For the first time, a President allowed workers and the people to air out their demands near the House of Representatives where he will deliver his SONA. We hope that this also means President Duterte would heed and act on our workers’ legitimate demands for a meaningful change, development and peace.” Labog said.