Editorial: Workers, peoples day of change


Today, May 1, is the internationally observed Labor Day. Almost a hundred fifty years ago against the growing oppressive and exploitative capitalist system, workers organized in their places of work so that they can demand equity from the fruits of their labor and for better working conditions, among others: better wages, shorter hours of work, recognition of rights and respect for women in the workplace, exclusion of children from (adult) work in factories and big farms, etc.

History indicates that most of the time and at every step of the way the owners of capital or capitalists met the workers with violence, whether it was against a single worker or a group of organized or unorganized workers, before and as well as after the talks or negotiation for the worker’s demands.

It was on a nationwide rally to demand shorter (8) work hours, justice for 6 workers killed in an earlier rally, and for the release of workers detained in their workplace (so they do not stop working to join protests in the streets) in May of 1889 that the police of Chicago (USA) violently dispersed the workers’ organized protest. Fifty workers including some police officers were killed and many others were wounded.

To honor their martyrs and for the victory in the struggles to uplift the workers’ plight, workers’ unions and organizations observed and declared May 1, 1890 as Labor Day, and it was annually observed by workers in many countries around the world including the Philippines.

The militant Kilusang Mayo Uno since its founding has consistently led the annual progressive May 1 activities and called it today as the ‘Workers and Peoples Day of Outrage”. For until today the Filipino workers situation continues to demand: “Sahod, itaas!, P750 National Minimum Wage, Ipatupad!; Kontraktwalisasyon, ibasura!, Disenteng trabaho para sa Pilipino!; Disenteng trabaho sa Pinas, hindi sa labas!”. The fight is still for better working conditions and decent wages. Especially that the country is a US imperialist neocolony run by their puppets and a corrupt government system.

Research group IBON “pointed out that (the) growing foreign investment under the Aquino administration has not improved the country’s jobs situation. This, as the presidentiables vow to continue the major economic policies of the incumbent administration, which has made attracting foreign direct investments (FDI) a key strategy for inclusive growth.”

Ibon said that “FDI will not contribute to national development if the government does not actively assert its sovereignty over foreign capital in the domestic economy. This includes enforcing Filipino equity limits, ensuring growing local content and domestic reinvestment, and requiring real technology transfer. These measures contrary to the neoliberal economic framework of the Aquino and past administrations are necessary to benefit from FDI.”

Ibon says, “The next administration should also give greater focus on developing the economy from within, such as by genuine land redistribution, real agricultural development, and Filipino-driven industrialization. Foreign investment should be a means to support these and is not an end in itself. The refusal of past governments and the present one to undertake these are the reasons for the country’s chronic jobs crisis. … these investments (FDI) were for big foreign and local business ventures that are disconnected from the domestic economy and contribute little to broad-based national development.”

It is the national elections now, and somehow it is one opportunity to closely examine and support candidates and partylists whose platforms best represent solutions to the people’s common problems, at least in your community, neighborhood or sector. We are workers, it is May day, our common issues unite us and we perceive a common path to build for the future of our generations here in our part of the world.

Vote for a true community representative in government who could truly stand up against corruption, stand up against the enemies of our common patrimony, someone who leads in the defense of our sovereignty or ancestral domains, a representative who keeps the welfare of his people and this nation a priority.

Lastly, it is Labor Day. We, the workers, should never forget our experience, our history – that it is through our collective efforts, our collective actions that we have gained recognition of our rights and brought economic relief. Together we made history, together we can make history. As Karl Marx said, “Workers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains!” # nordis.net


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