By ALDWIN QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — Cordillera workers led by the militant Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) and other sectoral organizations and individuals join the rest of the Filipino people in marching the streets to condemn the administration of President Benigno Aquino III for refusing to heed the workers call for a substantial wage increase.
The central theme of this year’s commemoration of May 1 as the International Labor Day is “Sahod dagdagan, makabuluhan! Presyo, ibaba ngayon na! Patung-patong na pahirap ni Pnoy, Labanan!. KMU declared May 1 as Workers’ and Peoples’ Day of outrage against the policies of Aquino administration.
According to the statement of the KMU, May 1 will also be a venue to reiterate the call to put an end to the overpricing of fuel and other petroleum products among others. KMU-Cordillera said that the oil price increases weekly that causes uncontrollable rise in prices of basic commodities and social services.
“Oil cartels enjoy a daily P277M gain from overpricing of oil products alone. The unemployment rate reached a high of 7.4% from the 63.7% labor force participation rate. 3.4 million Filipinos or 18% of the population live in poverty,” the statement added.
“A wage hike will be beneficial not just for workers and their families but also the economy because an empowered poor household can have the ability to contribute to the cycle of economy, thus, stimulates the economy,” KMU said. The labor group explained that there is no recorded employer who closed his establishment due to a wage increase. KMU also said that there is no recorded wage increase that caused inflation.
KMU criticized the announcement of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) that there is no supervening condition that would necessitate any wage increase.
KMU said that the workers and their families are facing extreme hunger and poverty every day. KMU stressed that there is a very wide gap between the actual cost of living and the pegged standard minimum wage. Here in the Cordillera region, the minimum wage is P260 while the daily cost of living for the family of five is P972.
National KMU vice-chairperson for women Nenita “Nitz” Gonzaga in a separate statement said that the Filipino workers and people are already very angry at the Aquino administration. She added that the Aquino administration’s callousness toward the plight of the Filipino workers and people is inciting many in the country to protest and to protest militantly.
We cannot stomach the news that the President himself is having a rich bachelor’s good time while his government is shooting down calls for a significant wage hike,” she added.
KMU vowed that they will further push for the demand of the immediate passage of the House Bill 735 or a legislated P125 wage increase across-the-board nationwide in this year’s commemoration of International Labor Day as in the past.
They will also reiterate the call to end contractualization. KMU also said that they strongly support the call of the government workers for a P6, 000 across the board salary hike and the full implementation of the P9,000 added to the minimum pay.
As we celebrate International Workers Day, let us be reminded of the historic mission of the working class to build a society free from all forms of exploitation and repression,” KMU added.
The labor organization said that they will again lead the working class and other sectors in the Philippines in the commemoration of May 1 with renewed vigor and militancy.
The protesters assembled in Sunshine Park and marched down the Session Road and held a program at the People’s Park. # nordis.net