Sunday, January 30, 2011

Workers group warn of unrest ala Tunisia and Egypt due to rising prices

Press Release
January 30, 2011

The labor party Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) today warned of unrest in the country similar to the uprisings in the Arab countries due to the rising prices of food and oil combined with worsening unemployment and poverty. “PNoy must act boldly to address the food crisis, escalating inflation and deepening hardship of Filipinos. Nobody was able to predict the explosion in the Arab region and nobody can discount unrest in the Philippines due to similar conditions of widespread desperation especially among the youth,” claimed Gerry Rivera, PM vice chair.

“The prices of rice, sugar, oil, gas and fare among others are rising thus squeezing the stagnant wages and incomes of workers and the poor. If the government will not institute price control then it must subsidize the costs of basic goods and services together with increasing wages and providing jobs,” insisted Rivera.

PM also expressed its solidarity with the unraveling uprisings in the Arab. “Filipino workers welcome the Arab world’s own version of people power. Filipino migrant workers in Egypt and other Arab countries should not fear but be inspired by these expressions of people power. If anything they must learn the lessons of these rousing risings so that the fierce winds of change blowing in the Arab world can reach the shores of the Philippines,” Rivera stated.

PM warned that while the popular uprisings in the Arab countries are directed at the corrupt dictatorships, the underlying causes are the pervasive dissatisfaction at the lack of jobs and opportunities primarily among the youth but also among workers and even the middle class. “Globalization has ravaged the Arab region as much as the Philippines. Unemployment, contractualization, retrenchment, rising prices and stagnant wages are also the norm in Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, Jordan and Yemen. Everywhere the mass of the people have become poorer while only the elite have become richer under globalization,” Rivera explained.

He added “Today the unrest is expressed in the resistance of PAL workers against layoff and outsourcing. Tomorrow who knows if the struggle becomes generalized with high prices and food crisis making the lack of jobs and stagnant incomes unbearable?”

Rivera is also president of the Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) which is embroiled in a protracted fight with management over the planned termination of some 2,600 employees. “Like the PALEA dispute, PNoy should assume jurisdiction of the problem of prices, wages and jobs. And then his government must provide tactical solutions such as price control, government subsidies, public employment and regulation of contractualization together with strategic shifts in industrial, agricultural, economic and social policies,” Rivera insisted.

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