The labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) slammed the non-wage benefits to be announced by President Benigno Aquino III on Labor Day and also the job fairs to be held by the Department of Labor and Employment. “On his first Labor Day, PNoy brings no good news for the workers, just a consuelo de bobo. Non-wage benefits should complement not supplant a wage hike,” declared Renato Magtbuo, PM national chair.
Magtubo also lambasted the “contractual job fairs” to be sponsored by the Department of Labor and Employment. “While 100,000 contractual positions are being offered in the job fairs the government is allowing the termination of 3,000 regular workers at Philippine Airlines. So is the employment policy of PNoy to foster contractualization?” he asked.
In Manila, PM together with the Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA), United Cavite Workers Association (UCWA) and Alyansa ng Maralitang Pilipino (AMP) assembled at Mehan Garden by 8:00 am then marched to Mendiola for a labor unity rally and mass officiated by Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo. PM also had Labor Day protests in Cebu City, Davao City, Bacolod City, General Santos City and Iligan City.
Meanwhile Gerry Rivera, PALEA president said that “The good news that PALEA wish to hear on Labor Day is PNoy declaring that he is against outsourcing. With PALEA’s motion for reconsideration pending at the Office of the President, it is high time that PNoy reveals if he favors the straight road of regular jobs or the crooked path of contractualization.”
Rivera criticized employers for threatening layoffs and closures in the response to the demand for a wage hike. “This is just the usual capitalist black propaganda and blackmail. Employers will not go bankrupt with a wage hike but they will lose some of their profit,” he explained.
In Cebu, some 5,000 workers attended the labor unity rally of 12 groups including PM, ALU-TUCP, APL, Makabayan, Super, IBM, NUBE, NFL, MKP and NUWHRAIN at the DOLE office by 3:00 pm. At 5:00 pm Cebu Bishop Palma led a mass with the workers.
In Bacolod City, PM mobilized around 1,000 farm and factory workers together with the urban poor in a morning rally. In the afternoon the marchers attended the provincial congress of PM.
In Davao, workers and urban poor assembled at Orcullo Park by 1:00 pm and then marched at 3:00 pm around the main city streets. In General Santos City, the anti-contractualization alliance KONTRA sponsored the rally at the downtown area from 1:00 to 3:00 pm. Finally in Iligan, PM joined the labor group FDLO in a mass in the early morning then a rally at the city plaza until noon.
PM estimates that the cost of living for a family of six in is around P1000 a day. PM based its estimate on its own cost of living study last year and the inflation rate over the past year.
The group is pushing for the establishment of a National Wage Commission. “The National Wage Commission will be different from the wage boards in that its mandate is to fix wages based on the single criterion of cost of living. And despite the huge difference between the minimum wage and the cost of living, the Wage Commission can bridge the gap by a host of mechanisms among which are direct wage increases, tax exemptions, price discounts and social security subsidies for workers,” Magtubo explained.