May 1, 2013
Protest not celebration is the theme of the Labor Day commemoration today. Workers groups are dismayed over President Benigno Aquino III’s rebuff of their demands in a dialogue yesterday.
“Insults instead of non-wage benefits were announced by PNoy in the dialogue. Workers still have received nothing significant from PNoy after three Labor Days. Sa ikatlong Mayo Uno ni PNoy, bokya pa rin ang mga manggagawa,” declared Renato Magtubo, Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) chair.
Hours after the dialogue, more than a hundred PM members staged a vigil at Mendiola in response to President Aquino’s rejection of labor concerns. Today several thousand PM members are joining the 25-strong mobilization of the labor coalition Nagkaisa. The rallyists will assemble across the length of Espana from Welcome Rotonda to Ramon Magsaysay and then proceed to Mendiola for the Labor Day program that will last up to noon.
PM members will push the slogan “Manggagawa Naman” as they demand that workers’ issues be a priority in the national agenda. In particular PM is advancing its “Apat na Dapat” set of concerns which are regular jobs with living wages; housing, education and health care services for all; cheaper prices of food and utilities; and equal rights and opportunity for women.
“We want the mandates of the Constitution—living wages and full employment—to be implemented by the State,” Magtubo argued. PM criticized the non-wage benefits as “scraps meant for slaves” and insisted that workers are “not children that can be pacified with candy.” The group also slammed the job fairs slated today as a “farce.”
The Labor Day protests are nationwide in scope. In Cebu, thousands of PM members will unite with the Nagkaisa contingent for a 7,000-strong rally from downtown
to Fuente Osmena. Meanwhile 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 march to
Plaza Letogay. In Davao,
PM and Nagkaisa will have a joint protest at .
Finally in Iligan, PM will link up with a labor unity rally at the public park.
Several hundred members of the Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) will also attend the Labor Day rally. Yesterday 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.