Workers protest low wage, other issues during SONA

Published July 22, 2019, 4:18 PM

by Martin Sadongdong & Antonio Colina

By Leslie Ann Aquino

Thousands of workers joined this year’s State of the Nation Address protests to condemn the low wages, continuing labor contractualization and worsening employment under the Duterte administration.

Protesters from different militant groups march as they approach the protest area along Commownealth Ave in Quezon City, in time for the 4th State of the NAtion Address of President Rodrigo Duterte, July 22, 2019. (MARK BALMORES / MANILA BULLETIN)
Protesters from different militant groups march as they approach the protest area along Commownealth Ave in Quezon City, in time for the 4th State of the Nation Address of President Rodrigo Duterte, July 22, 2019. (MARK BALMORES / MANILA BULLETIN)

“Three years under Duterte, workers’ wages are pegged far below living standards, contractualization remains rampant and legitimized, and unemployment still one of the worst in Asia,” Elmer Labog, Kilusang Mayo Uno chairperson, said in a statement.

KMU claimed that there has been no significant wage hike under Duterte and that the measly hikes implemented in several regions are insultingly insignificant amidst the unabated price increases of basic commodities and services.

KMU also stated that contractualization has worsened under Duterte as the number of contractual workers exceed 25 million or 60% of the total employed. The same goes for the public sector.

Instead of addressing workers’ demands, KMU said the Duterte government spent its three years selling Philippines to China allegedly through onerous and lopsided business deals, and establishing fascist dictatorship through extra-judicial killings and suppression of government critics.

“For three years, Duterte busied himself in selling our country to China and other foreign powers. Duterte refuses to uphold our territorial claim over the West Philippine Sea in spite of international court rulings. He has allowed China to blatantly plunder our resources and invade our territory in exchange for Xi Jing Ping’s support for his dictatorial rule,” Labog said.

The group vowed to intensify workers’ struggle and to continue building labor sector unity against what they called as “anti-people” policies.

“We will conduct bigger workers’ protests in August for wage increase and national minimum wage, regularization and an end to suppression of workers’ and people’s rights,” said Labog.

BPO workers under the banner of the BPO Industry Employees Network also echoed the sentiment of millions of Filipino workers fighting against contractualization and regionalized poverty wages.

“After three years in office, the Duterte administration sorely failed to deliver its promise to end contractualization and advance a national minimum wage. Instead, what we have is a diluted version of a bogus security of tenure bill and nominal wage hikes on the one hand and relentless attacks on trade union rights on the other hand. We are utterly dismayed and enraged by these deceptive policies and tyrannical measures undertaken by the Duterte government against the Filipino workers and trade unionists,” Mylene Cabalona, President of BIEN said.

She said they joined the protest actions to register the voice of BPO workers and make their issues known to the public.

Among the issues faced by BPO workers cited by the group are floating status and point system policies.

“The BPO industry is said to be the big contributor to the economy and the job creator in the country, but workers’ problems in the BPOs has been ignored. We are especially concerned about with the impact of automation on jobs and working conditions of BPO workers,” Cabalona said.

“Since the 16th Congress, we have been fighting for the passage of a law that guarantees greater protection to BPO workers rights and welfare and we hope that the government will make this as one of its priority,” she added.

 
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