Monday, July 22, 2019

Workers vow to fight chacha at counter-SONA rally

At the top of issues to be raised by workers at the counter-SONA rally today is the opposition to charter change. “Chicha hindi chacha. The government must attend to the problem of hunger and poverty instead of term extension and foreign ownership which are the agenda of charter change,” declared Rene Magtubo, chair of the group Partido Manggagawa (PM).

PM is participating in the coalition United Workers SONA which will mobilize this afternoon. The United Workers SONA coalition will then join up with other broad networks for the United People’s SONA.

The group is also joining the rally by human rights group at the Quezon City Hall by 10:30 am to cry justice for the victims of extra-judicial killings and also demand action on the death of Cavite labor organizer Dennis Sequena.

In Cebu, PM is joining a broad coalition of groups Sentro, Kalipunan and Bayan for a rally that will echo the demands of the United People’s SONA at Commonwealth. The counter-SONA in Cebu City will be at Colon St. by 9:00 am.

Magtubo averred that that “Duterte may repeat in the SONA the unsubstantiated claim by the Labor Department that 500,000 workers have been regularized. Where is the evidence and particulars? The truth is that companies such as PLDT and Philippine Airlines have appealed in the courts the orders to regularize thousands of agency workers. The Philippines is still a Republic of Endo, a Province of China and a puppet of the US.”

He added that “Up to now, President Duterte has not signed the SOT bill due to the powerful lobby of employers for a veto. Should President Duterte surrender to the demand to veto the bill, then he reveals where he stands on the class war between the workers and capitalists on contractualization. A presidential veto will just be another betrayal of his promise to workers. But even if the Security of Tenure bill is signed or lapses into law, endo will persist since the legislation is a watered-down version.” Thus the group averred that among workers demands for the SONA mobilization is a stronger law to stamp out contractualization.

In the counter-SONA rally, aside from pushing for an end to endo, workers are also clamoring for a reform of the wage-setting mechanism.

“We welcome the announcement by the Department of Labor and Employment that it will undertake a study on the current wage system in response to the calls to abolish the regional wage boards. Although we fear that powerful lobby by employers will once more scuttle any real reform,” asserted Magtubo.

PM is batting for the abolition of the regional wage boards and its replacement by a National Wage Commission which will fix a national minimum wage based on the cost of living. The group is also calling for the provision of a minimum basic income for workers in the SME sector which is unregulated and exempted from the minimum wage setting.

July 22, 2019

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