By NORWIN GONZALES
BAGUIO CITY— Due to Boracay’s closure for supposed rehabilitation, tourists from all over the country and around the globe signified their excitement in social media about their new summer destination. Through the hashtag #LaborDayUnion, the internet introduced its new go-to place for beaches and surfing, in La Union.
However, while outsiders are all excited, residents of the province of La Union want to send a strong message this Labor Day – they want an end to contractualization in all its forms, whether it be in government or in the private sector.
On Labor Day, they held a protest rally at the town plaza of provincial capital San Fernando.
Peasant leader Antonino Pugyao of the Solidarity of Peasants Against Exploitation (STOP Exploitation) militantly roused the protesters by discussing the roots of Labor Day and by discussing the issues that matter the most to them.
“Why do we join Labor Day as farmers? In the farmer’s sector, a huge part of that are agricultural workers, with no land, who are only working for the landed elite,” he asked.
“Duterte promised that he would end ENDO, but over a year in his presidency, contractualization still exists.”
The president needs not look far. Contractualization is rampant in his backyard.
One of the protesters Desiree Pangayan has been serving in the Region 1 Office of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for three years now. She remains a cost of service worker (COSW), one of the various flexible employment schemes in government alongside job order (JO) and memorandum of agreement (MOA). For these schemes, there is no employer-employee relationship.
“For COSW, MOA, and JO, tax is deducted from our salary. But at the same time, we are the ones who pay contributions to PhilHealth, SSS and the like,” she said.
“We joined Mayo Uno in hopes that the Duterte regime would heed our call and regularize COSW, MOA and JO workers,” said Pangayan, who is also a member of the Social Work Employees Association of the Philippines (SWEAP), the government sector union of DSWD affiliated with COURAGE.
Aside from their anti-contractualization stance, they are calling for a higher minimum wage for government employees, teachers and workers in the private sector alike.
They call for a P30,000 monthly minimum wage for teachers, P16,000 per month for government employees and a P750 daily national minimum wage for workers in the private sector.
“It is Mayo Uno. We teachers are part of the fight because we too are workers,” said Florante Lachica, secretary-general of ACT Teachers Region I Union.
As he carries on with his sector’s calls, he apparently is not amused by the current Duterte regime.
“Nothing has changed. The lives of the people even worsened in Duterte’s time. He facilitates neoliberal policies like Train law which only caused the rise of prices of commodities. Add to that the illegal arrests and extrajudicial killings of our leaders,” he followed through.
“We are organizing the people to empower them in order to quell these attacks by the fascist government, he ended.
The protesters also registered their opposition to the Naguilian Mini Hydroelectric Project set to be constructed in the province. # nordis.net