MANILA, Philippines–A group of state workers staged a lunchtime protest Friday in front of the Department of Budget Management (DBM) office in Manila, demanding the regularization of over 700,000 contractual workers.
Led by the Kawani Laban sa Kontraktwalisasyon (KALAKON) and the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE), the protesters called for the revocation of policies they deem inimical to their plight.
They expressed their rejection of policies such as Joint Circular No. 2 S. 2020 of the DBM and the Commission on Audit (COA), which they say would only make them sub-contractual workers of the government through third-party manpower agencies.
The protesters also called out policies like devolution, privatization, and the rightsizing plan of the present administration, which they fear would result in mass layoffs of government workers, especially of contractual, job order, and contract of service workers.
“This administration should fill up vacant positions in government which now number to 169,688 according to the DBM and use the positions for the regularization of contractual workers, as President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. promised at the beginning of his term,” said Roxanne Fernandez of KALAKON.
COURAGE Secretary General Manuel Baclagon expressed his frustration with the inaction of the administration on the calls of government workers for salary increase, regularization, and respect for public union rights.
Baclagon also noted that many government workers, particularly those on the low salary pay scale, are already deep in debt due to rising inflation, yet their incomes continue to be pegged below living wage levels, their jobs continue to be threatened, and their rights to freedom of association continue to be violated.
The protesters also called on the Marcos administration to take positive actions on the recommendations of the International Labor Organization (ILO) High Level Tripartite Meeting (HLTM) held in the country last January, which included addressing concerns of public sector union workers, such as freedom of association and contractualization.
With the increasing number of contractual government workers in the country, the protesters hope that their voices will be heard, and their calls for regularization and better policies will be addressed.
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