Sunday, March 7, 2010

Women workers to raise reproductive health and wage hike issues on women’s day

Press Release
March 7, 2010

Women members of the labor party-list Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) will raise the issues of a wage hike and reproductive health in the celebration of women’s day tomorrow. Some 200 women workers and urban poor will hold a picket at the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to be followed by a rally at the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) offices to highlight the two demands.

“The burning demand for a wage hike and reproductive health set the context for this year’s commemoration of women’s day. The twin issues are appropriate since they frame the productive and reproductive roles of women in the family and society,” explained Judy Ann Miranda, PM secretary-general.

The members of the labor party-list group will assemble by 7:00 a.m. tomorrow at the Manila Cathedral and then move on to the CBCP by 7:30 a.m. to ask to the bishops to “bless” a set of condoms that the group will distribute. They will then march to the DOLE where the protesters will bang pots and pans to demand a wage increase and a revamp of the wage fixing mechanism.

By 9:00 a.m. they join other women’s groups at España for a 10:00 a.m. rally at Mendiola. While marching to España and Mendiola, there will be a continuous noise barrage and whistle blowing to draw attention to the women’s challenge to the candidates in the coming elections.

“We will humbly ask the Catholic bishops to bless the condoms as a conciliatory gesture to unite for reproductive health and women’s rights,” Miranda furthered. She added that aside from providing contraception, the government should embark on a nationwide education program through the barangays so that women and men learn the many facets of HIV-AIDS, teenage pregnancies, unwanted pregnancies, child spacing and family planning, among other reproductive health concerns.

Miranda also insisted that “A P75 wage hike is reasonable and not excessive but it will not prosper unless President Gloria Arroyo supports it. That unfortunately is the problem with the tripartite regional wage boards because if Malacañang does not give the go signal for a wage hike, the wage petition will be defeated by the combined votes of the employer and government representatives.”

PM wants to abolish the wage boards to give way to a National Wage Commission with the mandate to set a national minimum wage based solely on the cost of living. Miranda argued that “There must a national standard of living that should be matched by a national minimum wage. The wage is the price of the worker’s labor power and as every other commodity in the market its price must reflect its cost of production, which in the case of the worker is nothing else but the cost of living of his or her family.”

The minimum wage in the NCR has been stuck at P382 for almost two years but the cost of living already reaches P1,000 a day in Metro Manila for a family of six according to various studies.

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