April 30, 2013
As President Benigno Aquino III announced non-wage benefits for workers today, the militant Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) belittled it as “scraps meant for slaves.” “Workers are not children that can be pacified with candy. The Constitution mandated a living wage for workers but the State keeps minimum wages at starvation levels,” declared Renato Magtubo.
The group also criticized the job fairs scheduled on Labor Day as a “farce.” “Job fairs are simply job facilitation yet the real issue is employment generation. So-called economic growth has not translated to job creation. Unemployment remains at 7% and even college graduates constitute almost one fifth of the unemployed. The 400,000 jobs available at the job fairs cannot even provide for the 530,000 recent graduates,” Magtubo added.
In a vigil this afternoon at Mendiola, several hundred PM members highlighted the call “Manggagawa Naman” as they demanded that workers’ concerns be a priority in the national agenda. They also brought dozens of boiled eggs to symbolize their critique that President Aquino has not done anything for workers. “Sa ikatlong Mayo Uno niya sa Malacanang, bokya pa din ang mga manggagawa kay PNoy,” asserted Judy Miranda, PM secretary general.
Tomorrow the PM contingent will merge with the labor coalition Nagkaisa in a big Labor Day march from Espana to Mendiola. PM will underscore its “Apat na Dapat” demands which are regular jobs with living wages; housing, education and health care services for all; cheap prices of food and utilities; and equal rights and opportunity for women.
Members of the Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) also attended the vigil as they laid wreaths at the foot of Mendiola for Bienvenido Ruiz, an outsourced Philippine Airlines worker who died of a stroke last Sunday. “The martyrdom of Bien Ruiz, Antonio Enero, Danny Hernandez, Alfredo Limana and Arturo Estrada—who all died during the pendency our struggle against outsourcing—embolden us to fight until victory so that their deaths will not be in vain,” insisted Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and PM vice chair.
PM is leading nationwide protests tomorrow on Labor Day. In Cebu, thousands of PM members will unite with the Nagkaisa contingent for a 7,000-strong rally from downtown
to Fuente Osmena. In Bacolod,
PM will merge with the labor coalition GAWA for a rally at the downtown area.
In Iloilo, PM
will have an assembly of construction workers and then initiate a rally march
to Plaza Letogay. In Davao, PM and Nagkaisa will
have a joint protest at . In Iligan, PM will link
up with a labor unity rally at the public park in front of City Hall. Orcullo