All Saints’ Day: Workers mourn workplace deaths

12182612_1633985020209089_1220575209709327323_oTwo days before All Saints’ Day, workers led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno held a protest in front of the Labor Department’s main office in Intramuros, Manila to mourn the death of fellow workers in workplace accidents and to demand better working conditions.

The workers lit candles and carried big placards painted as tombstones containing the Top 5 worst cases of workplace accidents under the presidency of Noynoy Aquino: Kentex (more than 74 workers, May 13, 2015), Novo Jeans and Shirts (17 workers, May 9, 2012), Eton Towers (11 workers, January 27, 2011), Semirara Mining Corp. (9 workers, July 17, 2015), Asia Micro Tech (8 workers, May 30, 2014).

KMU also warned workers and the public about the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit on November, which it said would mean lower wages, widespread contractualization, rampant violations of workers’ rights – and therefore gradual death for the country’s workers.

“We remember and mourn for our fellow workers who died in the workplace. We continue to cry for justice for them. Their deaths compel us to fight for better working conditions for all Filipino workers,” said Jerome Adonis, KMU secretary-general.

The labor leader said the upcoming APEC Summit, in the guise of “attracting foreign investors” to “developing countries” like the Philippines, will further undermine existing laws and create new ones that would allow big capitalists to increase profits by making working conditions worse.

“APEC would mean more workplace deaths and a gradual death for all workers. Since the last APEC Summit in the Philippines in 1996, wages have been pressed down, contractualization has spread, violations of workers’ rights have become more rampant, and more workers have died in workplace accidents,” Adonis added.

KMU reiterated its call for a significant wage increase in the form of a P125 across-the-board wage hike nationwide to make up for the meager wage adjustments that were approved by the country’s regional wage boards over the past decades.

“We reiterate our call to bring the minimum wage closer to the living wage, not to the libing (burial) wage. The very meager minimum wage levels in the country are bringing workers closer and closer to death. We need a significant wage hike to bring us some form of immediate relief,” stated Adonis.