DOLE, Congress urged to prioritize workers' rights in 2022 budget

Published September 29, 2021, 3:42 PM

by Alexandria Dennise San Juan

Progressive labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno has urged lawmakers and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to prioritize the rights and welfare of workers in the agency’s budget amid the ongoing pandemic.

(Jansen Romero / MANILA BULLETIN)

KMU with other groups from the migrants and youth sectors trooped to the House of Representatives on Wednesday, Sept. 29, to air their demands during the deliberations on DOLE’s P44.9 billion budget.

Jerome Adonis, KMU secretary general, said the Department’s proposed fund is barely 1 percent of the P5.024 trillion 2022 national budget which only proves how the government gives “little to no priority to workers despite them being a potent force in economic production.”

“The government said the 2022 budget is for pandemic response and economic recovery—so, a large portion should be allocated to health, aid, and livelihoods, especially for workers who are vital in the country’s economic recovery,” Adonis said in Filipino.

Adonis also reiterated the group’s call for a complete end of contractualization, as well as an increase in wages of workers that should be included not only in the 2022 budget but also in the coming years.

Meanwhile, the group criticized the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict’s (NTF-ELCAC) 2022 budget worth P30.46 billion— the bulk of which is for the Barangay Development Program.

The group pointed to the task force as the “mastermind” behind the series of attacks against workers as various unions experience threats from its agents forcing them to disaffiliate their unions from progressive federations.

“We are united in calling for additional funding for programs and services that truly address workers’ grievances. Our call is legitimate because it is for important programs such as the P100 daily wage subsidy, paid pandemic leave, additional benefits for those who fall ill or die with COVID, free testing, treatment and vaccination of workers,” Adonis explained.

“If workers really have a space in the national budget, we must see from DOLE and Congress that our grievances and appeals can be realized—regular work, living wages, good service, respect for our rights,” he added.

The group said that it will continue to press both houses of Congress for additional budget for worker-related programs, especially those urgently needed amid the pandemic.