On the first Labor Day under the Duterte administration, national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno led today’s nationwide protest of over 100,000 workers and urban to demand a “Social Justice Package” of a P750 national minimum wage (NMW), an end to all forms of contractualization and for free mass housing.
In Metro Manila – More than 50,000 workers and urban poor led by KMU and national urban poor alliance KADAMAY marched from Agham Road in Quezon City to the Liwasang Bonifacio in Manila. Before heading to the main protest at Liwasang Bonifacio, KMU affiliated Labor Federations and unions stormed the US Embassy in Manila to condemn the US’ imposition of neoliberal policies of cheap and contractual labor. Over 300 Lapanday farm workers of the Marbai (Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries) from Mindanao also joined today’s protests in Manila. The protest was culminated with a march and short program in Mendiola.
In Davao City –KMU also headed the 10,000-strong All Mindanao protest and delegation to the Labor Day Dialogue with President Rodrigo Duterte at the People’s Park in Davao. KMU vice-chairperson Lito Ustarez, together with Mindanao labor leaders presented before President Duterte the Workers’ and People’s Concrete Demands for a P750/daily and P16,000/monthly national minimum wage, end to contractualization, for free mass housing and other basic social services and for free land distribution.
Simultaneous protests of workers in their tens of thousands were also held in Baguio, Clark, Laguna, Albay, Masbate, Tacloban, Cebu, Iloilo, Aklan, Bacolod, Cagayan De Oro, Butuan, Surigao City and General Santos City.
KMU insisted that the P750 National minimum wage can and should be implemented. Data from Ibon Foundation showed that such an amount would only be a 30% decrease in the gross profit of the top 1000 corporations in the country. Small and medium enterprises have also claimed that workers’ wages only comprises 10% of their total production costs as they spend higher on high electricity rates, land rentals and exorbitant taxes.
While the top 1,000 corporations amassed over Php1.1 trillion in combined annual profits in 2016, workers’ wages remain below living standards as the P235 minimum wage in Region 4-B, the lowest of the over 1,000 wage levels in the country, does not even meet a quarter of the P1,119 suggested Family Living Wage.
KMU meanwhile posed their challenge before President Duterte to fulfill his commitment to end all forms of contractualization. DOLE’s Department order 174 does not end but legitimizes contractualization as the government’s employment policy. While we recognize the DOLE’s efforts to regularize 45,000 contractuals in 2017, there remains over 24.4 million contractual workers that should be regularized. Majority of these workers however are employed under job contracting schemes which, ironically, is being legitimized and deemed allowable by the DO 174.
The KMU led nationwide protest for the 131st International Labor Day also celebrated the centennial of the Great Socialist October Revolution in Russia that gave birth to the first worker-run socialist state in the world.
Today also marks the 37th anniversary of KMU which was founded in through a gathering of over 30,000 workers that filled the Araneta Coliseum on May 1st 1980 headed by its founding chairperson, the late great labor leader Felixberto “Ka Bert” Olalia.