Labor Day protests to hit ‘worsening’ conditions under Duterte
Labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) on Tuesday said the “worsening” conditions of Filipino workers under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, particularly the persistence of the oppressive practice of contractualization, would take center stage in the upcoming Labor Day protests on May 1.
In a forum in Quezon City, KMU secretary general Jerome Adonis lamented that 24.4 million Filipinos or about 64 percent of the labor force were hired under various contractual employment schemes, as national wages “remain below living standards.”
“Workers are worse off after almost a year under the Duterte administration’s continued implementation of anti-worker neoliberal economic policies. On the first Labor Day under Duterte, workers will take him to task for his failed promises and will push for our demands to end contractualization and the implementation of a national minimum wage,” Adonis said.
“Duterte has failed to deliver his promise of ending contractualization. The much hyped DOLE Order No. 174 does not end but further legitimizes the proliferation of contractual employment schemes. There has also been no significant wage hike under Duterte. Wages remain below living standards especially in regions outside Metro Manila under the wage rationalization scheme,” he added.
The KMU leader was referring to the labor department’s new order banning labor-only contracting, regulating lawful contractual arrangements and prohibiting “endo” or the end of contract scheme.
Adonis said other issues that would be protested on May 1 include demands for national minimum wage, free mass housing, and free land distribution.
“We call on our fellow workers to join the Labor Day protests and assert our demands for regular jobs, living wages, social justice, and just peace,” he added.
Meanwhile, migrant workers group Migrante International lauded the government’s repatriation efforts, but noted that overseas Filipino workers would keep on returning to foreign land without decent-paying jobs in their own soil.
“We have stressed the need for a comprehensive reintegration program since the Saudi crisis came full force. We expect more OFWs to be repatriated or deported in light of the ongoing economic crisis in the Middle East and looming mass deportations of undocumented OFWs in US and Malaysia,” Migrante said in a statement.
“It will be a never-ending cycle unless President Duterte makes good of his promise to address the root causes of forced migration. Unemployment, low wages, contractualization, landlessness, and poor social services have been driving our OFWs away. If the President sincerely wants them to come back, we need more regular jobs, higher wages, and pro-labor policies, not a labor export policy that has long gone bankrupt,” it added.
About 138 undocumented OFWs who were granted immunity by the Saudi government welcomed Duterte on Monday upon his arrival from a three-country visit in the Middle East. JE/rga
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