Workers seek salary hike, end to ‘endo’

Published by rudy Date posted on May 2, 2017

By JP LOPEZ, Malaya, May 2, 2017

THOUSANDS of protesters from moderate groups to militant organizations marked the first Labor Day under President Duterte’s watch by marching under the scorching sun yesterday to demand a nationwide P750 minimum wage and an end to all kinds of contractualization.

Rally leaders said some 80,000 joined protest rallies in Metro Manila and other parts of the country. In Metro Manila, they said that around 30,000 rallyists from Quezon City and Manila converged late afternoon at the Don Chino Roces bridge, formerly Mendiola bridge. Police estimated that 3,000 to 5,000 joined the protest rally.

A brief skirmish occurred when policemen blocked hundreds of protesters from the militant Kilusang Mayo Uno from reaching the US Embassy along Roxas Blvd.

Tension was defused when protest leaders told their members not to break the police line.

Aside from this, no other untoward incident was reported, prompting the PNP to say the Labor Day celebration was generally peaceful.

PNP spokesman Chief Supt. Dionardo Carlos said PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa monitored protest rallies at the PNP National Operations Center in Camp Crame.

The protesters were also joined by members of the urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) who occupied government housing units in Pandi, Bulacan last month.

Over 300 Lapanday farm workers of the Marbai (Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries) from Mindanao also joined yeterday’s protest rally.

KMU-led unions and federations demanded what they called “Social Justice Package” of a P750 national minimum wage, an end to all forms of contractualization, and free mass housing.

Elmer Labog, KMU chair, 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 percent decrease in the gross profit of the top 1,000 corporations in the country. Small and medium enterprises have also claimed that workers’ wages only make up 10 percent of their total production costs as they spend higher on high electricity rates, land rentals and taxes.

While the top 1,000 corporations amassed over P1.1 trillion in combined annual profits in 2016, workers’ wages remained 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.

Labog also challenged Duterte to fulfill his commitment to end all forms of contractualization.

He said 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 remain 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,” he said.

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 to Duterte the “Workers’ and People’s Concrete Demands” for a P750/daily and P16,000/monthly national minimum wage, end to contractualization, free mass housing and other basic social services, and free land distribution.

Simultaneous protests were also held in Baguio, Clark, Laguna, Albay, Masbate, Tacloban, Cebu, Iloilo, Aklan, Bacolod, Cagayan De Oro, Butuan, Surigao City and General Santos City.

Thousands of Kadamay members also held protest actions in Quezon City and Manila yesterday.

The members, who had camped out on the northbound lane of Agham Road in Quezon City over the weekend, started marching to Welcome Rotunda at 8 a.m. and reached the area after an hour.

From Welcome Rotunda, the group marched to Liwasang Bonifacio in Lawton, Manila and proceeded to Mendiola, near Malacañang. The rally snarled traffic in some parts of Manila and Quezon City.

Carlos said some 2,000 members of various labor and cause-oriented groups held a mass action at Mariners Court, Pier 1 in Cebu City that was attended by Cebu City Mayor Tommy Osmena and Trade Union Congress of the Philippines partylist Rep. Raymond Mendoza.

In Ormoc City, Carlos said some 100 members of the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino held a mass demonstration in front of Don Felipe Hotel in Larbal Boulevard to demand a stop to contractualization. – With Raymond Africa and Evan Orias

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