Fight for freedom far from over, labor groups say

Fight for freedom far from over, labor groups say

Group People’s Solidarity gather at the Barasoain Church in Malolos Bulacan on Wednesday, June 12, 2024. —photo courtesy of People’s Solidarity

MANILA, Philippines — As the country celebrated Independence Day on Wednesday, a labor federation called on the Marcos administration to address critical issues, emphasizing the urgent need for freedom of association, job security against contractualization, and freedom from poverty wages.

According to the Nagkaisa Labor Coalition, the “spirit of freedom” that the country’s heroes fought for was not only from colonial bondage but also from poverty, ignorance and powerlessness.

READ: Marcos vows to continuously support working class on Labor Day

“As we mark our country’s independence, let us not forget the freedom of our workers to desire for a better life and more certain future. The coalition stands for its calls for justice and equality for all workers. It’s time that the government listen to these calls and enforce meaningful reforms that mirror the true spirit of freedom,” the group said in a statement.


Nagkaisa chair and Federation of Free Workers president Sonny Matula said that despite having the constitutional guarantee of the right to form unions, many workers in the country find themselves unable to organize.

“Other than being killed or Red-tagged, workers are not recognized as employees of the firms or enterprises they serve. Instead, they are supplied by cooperatives or manpower agencies, or are misclassified as independent contractors,” he said.

“All these strategies employed to avoid regularization are commonly called ‘contractualization.’ This systemic avoidance strips workers of their rightful benefits and job security,” Matula added.

The labor leader said many of the country’s workers are also subjected to low pay, which are “strategically kept low” by pegging them to the regional wage boards’ decisions for 35 years now.

“These boards often set wages that do not rise above the poverty threshold, ensuring that workers remain chained to poverty wages,” he added.

Higher daily pay

Matula called on the government to act decisively on the plight of workers, saying “Now we need to unshackle our workers from poverty by giving them living wages. Start with a nationwide P150 daily wage hike. Allow workers to organize unions and ensure their right to security of tenure.”

Even AGRI party list Rep. Wilbert Lee said that Filipinos’ struggle for freedom was far from over.

“While we celebrate the triumph forged by our heroes who fought and liberated us from foreign invaders, we must free Filipinos from perennial problems and sufferings,” he said in a statement.

He expressed hope that every Filipino would soon know true freedom from poverty, high cost of goods and services, corruption, injustice and social discrimination.