Provinces mark Labor Day with call for better pay
Labor and progressive groups in key cities across the country marked Labor Day with rallies and call for better economic condition for workers.
In the Visayas, Labor Day rallies in the cities of Cebu, Bacolod and Dumaguete focused on the demand for higher wages, protests over rising prices of goods and services and a call to an end in contractualization.
Jaime Paglinawan, Bayan Central Visayas chairperson, said they were demanding for a P750 minimum daily wage so their families “will live with dignity.” Protesters belonging to the United Labor Alliance in Bacolod City also called for a P750 across-the-board national minimum wage and the lowering of prices of goods.
“We were just dismayed that President Marcos prioritized his visit to US President Joe Biden instead of facing Filipino workers to address our concerns,” Paglinawan said in an interview during Monday’s rally in Cebu City.
A similar sentiment was also raised by protesters in the cities of Baguio and Davao.
Progressive groups holding a rally at the Igorot Park on Harrison Road in Baguio City slammed President Marcos for marking Labor Day with a visit to the United States instead of staying in the country to address the demand for better working conditions for workers.
In Davao City, workers expressed disappointment that President Marcos failed to issue an executive order supporting their calls for a P1,100 across-the-board wage.
Instead, the President preferred to go on his first state visit to the United States, upon the invitation of US President Joe Biden, said PJ Dizon, secretary general of Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) in Southern Mindanao.
Mr. Marcos and his economic team are on an official mission to Washington, D.C., including a bilateral meeting with Biden, which was seen to bolster economic recovery and sustain the security partnership of the ally countries.
Police Lt. Col. Gerard Ace Pelare, spokesperson of the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas, said they did not receive any reports of violence during the Labor Day celebration in the region.
“Laborers simply expressed their sentiments, and their activities were generally peaceful,” he said.
But in Davao City, workers belonging to the KMU and allied groups who were supposed to march the short distance from Ponciano to Claveria Street before heading to the city’s Freedom Park were stopped by policemen who told them they could gather at the park but were not allowed to march because they did not have a permit, Dizon told the Inquirer.
Dizon said the Davao City government had made it very difficult for workers to secure a rally permit since 2017, so they no longer bothered securing a permit every time they held a protest action.
Fired workers’ woes
In Olongapo City, former workers from the bankrupt Korean firm Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction held their own protest in front of the Subic Bay Freeport to demand an end to labor contractualization, which they described as “oppressive to the workers in the country.”
“Isn’t what happened to Hanjin enough of an example? When our hiring agencies said there were no more jobs, we were fired,” said Macho Raya, 38, a member and organizer of Workers for People’s Liberation in Olongapo-Zambales.
Hanjin Shipyard used to be the biggest employer at Subic Bay Freeport, with its workforce peaking at 30,000. The company, however, filed for corporate rehabilitation in 2019 due to its outstanding loans from local and foreign lenders.
In Tacloban City, the Department of Labor and Employment marked Labor Day with a job fair at the City Astrodome, participated by 73 employers who offered 8,403 employment opportunities, 6,742 of which were for work abroad.