Saturday, May 1, 2010

May 1 protest demands a stop to layoffs and contractualization

Press Release
May 1, 2010

The call to stop mass layoffs and labor contractualization rang loud and clear in protests on Labor Day. The demand to reform the wage fixing system and abolish the wage boards were also highlighted in the protest motorcade dubbed “Sakbayan para sa Trabahong Regular at Dagdag Sahod” by the party-list Partido ng Manggagawa (PM).

“Can the 3,000 PAL employees to be retrenched on May 31 find work in the Labor Day job fairs of the government? If ever they do, they will probably end up as contractual workers, which is their same fate in the spun off companies to be created by Lucio Tan. Regular jobs are being destroyed and replaced by contractual work in which wages are cheaper, benefits are fewer and security of tenure is abolished,” declared Renato Magtubo, PM chairperson.

The May 1 motorcade converged by 7:00 a.m. at the PAL In Flight Center along Airport Road in Paranaque. A program was held in which Gerry Rivera, PAL Employees Association (PALEA) president and PM vice-chairperson, was the main speaker. The motorcade then proceeded to Mendiola for a joint program with other labor groups by 10:00 a.m.

Rivera criticized the Department of Labor and Employment for assuming jurisdiction (AJ) of the labor dispute in PAL when PALEA has not even held a strike vote and has not yet discussed holding a strike. The AJ order was dated April 23, 2010 and stopped PALEA from continuing with the protest motorcades that had mobilized hundreds of workers last week.

Magtubo called on PAL to cancel the retrenchment planned for May 31. “The failure of elections that could result from a slowdown or paralysis of PAL’s operations is the responsibility of management since it provoked the labor dispute,” Magtubo argued. PM is supporting the series of protest actions by PAL workers against spinoff and contractualization.

Magtubo also lambasted the government for freezing wages for the past two years and its announcement that no wage hike is forthcoming. “The minimum wage has been stuck at P382 while the prices of basic goods and services have skyrocketed. In the midst of rotating brownouts and less energy consumption, consumers’ electricity bills have increased by 50% and yet the government will not lift a finger to ease workers’ burdens. To the bitter end, the Gloria Arroyo regime remains anti-labor,” he exclaimed.

PM also led May 1 protests in Cebu, Bacolod, Iloilo, Davao and Iligan. In Cebu, more than 1,000 workers marched to the campout of the displaced Alta Mode workers at the gates of the Mactan export processing zone. PAL workers in Cebu joined the Labor Day program at the Alta Mode campout. In Bacolod, a caravan of more than 20 trucks from plantations in South Negros entered Bacolod in the morning and met with other contingents for an indoor rally at the Teacher Center. At the end of the indoor rally by 3:00 p.m., the participants marched to SM-Bacolod where a job fair was being held and tore in half an employment contract in a symbolic protest at contractualization.

Meanwhile in Iloilo City, a caravan of 20 jeeps ended in a rally at Plaza Letogay. In Davao, PM members assembled by 1:00 p.m. at the corner of Magsaysay and Roxas Blvds. before marching to Orcullo Freedom Park for a joint rally with other groups. Also in Iligan, PM joined a labor unity parade by the different labor groups that went around the downtown area. A program was then held at the City Plaza where workers concerns were discussed. Finally in Koronadal City, PM members led by the union of the Yellow Bus Line marched around the downtown area in the afternoon.

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