Workers seek dialogue with Marcos on Labor Day

Workers seek dialogue with Marcos on Labor

By: - Reporter / @JeromeAningINQ
/ 05:30 AM April 28, 2024

JOBHUNT Jobseekers look for potential employers during a job fair held at the Marikina City Hall on Saturday. Twenty-eight privatecompanies participated in the event organized by the city government ahead of Labor Day on May 1.

JOBHUNT Jobseekers look for potential employers during a job fair held at the Marikina City Hall on Saturday. Twenty-eight private companies participated in the event organized by the city government ahead of Labor Day on May 1. NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

MANILA, Philippines — The Nagkaisa labor coalition on Saturday urged President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to set a meeting soon with labor leaders as the country marks Labor Day on May 1, noting a “concerning pattern” of the lack of such a dialogue with workers two years into his presidency.

In a statement, Nagkaisa chair and Federation of Free Workers president Sonny Matula also noted repeated requests by labor leaders to hold a meeting with Marcos.


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Matula said he had written Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma to facilitate such a meeting even after Labor Day.

“It has come to our knowledge that, once again, there is no dialogue scheduled between the labor groups and Marcos despite several requests coming from us in the past two years,” the labor leader said.

“The lack of dialogue with the President has been a concerning pattern that can no longer be overlooked. As we observe Labor Day, it is paramount that [our] significant concerns are addressed directly with President Marcos to ensure the effective representation and advancement of workers’ rights and welfare,” he added.

Among the “critical issues” confronting labor, Matula said, are the proposed legislated wage increase of P150, challenges regarding job security and freedom of association.

Business groups have argued against the feasibility of a legislated wage hike—be it the P100 proposed by the Senate or the P450 proposed by the House of Representatives—citing its impact on small- and medium-enterprises.

On Friday, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) criticized the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) for giving emphasis to the 50th anniversary of the Labor Code of the Philippines in the government’s upcoming Labor Day celebration.


Meanwhile, “ordinary workers toil in suffocating heat, worsening traffic, poverty wages, amid the high cost of food and services, not to mention the fast disappearing space for freedom of association and collective bargaining,” the group said in a statement.

The Labor Code was issued in 1974 by Marcos’ father and namesake as Presidential Decree No. 442.

The TUCP said that landmark directive would now be “scandalized by the patronizing memorial presentation” by Dole, instead of using the occasion of Labor Day to let workers’ voices be heard by the President.

“It is in the spirit of continuing social dialogue that the TUCP is dumbfounded by the lack of labor dialogue even just once a year on workers’ day,” the group said. “It has been two years into the administration of President [Marcos], and there has been no labor dialogue set even on the scheduled Labor Day Celebration in Malacañang this year.”

“We therefore ask Dole: ‘What is there to mark and remember the 122nd Labor Day with?’ Celebrating Labor Day would be a hollow ritual without addressing or even listening to the struggling workers’ pleas,” TUCP said.

It warned further that shutting out the labor sector could derail the President’s pitch to the international community for the Philippines as an investment destination, considering that foreign trade and investments are inextricably linked to the clear and categorical observance of international labor standards.

‘Positive’ activities

For the commemoration of the Labor Code to be truly worth it, TUCP said the government should also highlight the declared state policy in the 1987 Constitution on the protection of labor, ensuring equal work opportunities and enhancing employer-worker relations while also promoting social justice.

Laguesma on Friday said the government’s main Labor Day celebration will be held in Malacañang to commemorate the anniversary of the signing of the Labor Code. A commemorative stamp will also be launched for that occasion.

Another program in the Palace celebration will be the recognition of outstanding workers through the Tower (The Outstanding Workers of the Republic) Awards.

A memorandum of understanding between Dole, other departments and the municipal government of Tanay, Rizal, will also be signed regarding the construction of the Workers Rehabilitation Center for laborers with work-related disabilities or injuries.

Teachers’ demands

Laguesma said job fairs, distribution of livelihood programs and emergency employment payouts are among the other “positive” government activities that will mark Labor Day.

“Traditionally, Labor Day is marked by rallies and airing of grievances. But there is a time for those. In the government’s view, especially on the part of Dole, it’s an important day where we should feature positive events that we can present to workers, and we will highlight and expand the services of Dole with the other departments,” he said at a news conference on Friday.

Meanwhile, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) on Friday held a “national day of action” protest at the Boy Scout Circle in Quezon City to demand that the Marcos administration heed the call of teachers for better working conditions.

At the top of their demands is the substantial raise of teachers’ monthly entry-level pay to P50,000 and an increase of the national minimum wage for all workers to P33,000.

In a statement, ACT chair Vladimer Quetua said, “It is not true that the government cannot afford to fund our call for [a salary increase].”

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“We saw how billions of [pesos of] public funds were used for the railroading of the proposed Charter change and intensified military exercises with the US, instead of granting demands for just and decent wages and allocating enough funds for education and basic social services,” he said. —WITH A REPORT FROM KATHLEEN DE VILLA

TAGS: DOLE, Labor Day, Nagkaisa, Presidential Decree No. 442, TUCP

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