Women Activists Protest Price Increases, Low Wages

BY Bulatlat.com
Posted 7:00 p.m., Apr. 24, 2006

Around 500 members of the women’s group GABRIELA, most of them residents of urban poor communities, held a march earlier today to protest against low wages amid the rising prices of prime commodities.

Prices of basic goods and services have soared anew amid the steep rise in the prices of petroleum products in the world market. Meanwhile, the government has yet to grant workers’ demand for a P125 across-the-board, nationwide wage increase which labor groups like the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU or May 1st Movement) have been pushing since 1999.

The protesters, who assembled near the Trabajo Market in Sampaloc, Manila intended to march to the foot of the Don Chino Roces Bridge, a few meters away from the presidential palace. However, they were stopped by police near the Bustillos Church, just a few steps away from the Don Chino Roces Bridge, and had to settle for holding their program there.

“The prices of commodities especially food and other basic necessities have increased again, and another series of oil price hikes has begun, but the government does nothing to solve these,” said GABRIELA secretary-general Emmi de Jesus. “Instead of focusing on the immediate issues affecting the people, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo prioritizes charter change.”

“Women have long been making do by buying their basic needs in small quantities but the sad thing about this is that the products they purchase in small quantities are even getting smaller by the day and are becoming unaffordable to many,” De Jesus added. “This shows that families who struggle to make both ends meet find it increasingly difficult to survive. Their conditions become more and more oppressive as they eat less and less food, which, in turn, gets poorer and poorer in quality.”

De Jesus said that the government should immediately scrap the Oil Deregulation Law and the Expanded Value-Added Tax (E-VAT), as these, she said, are the reasons behind the “uncontrollable” rise in prices.

The GABRIELA leader also announced that their group will join the rally on May 1, in which workers’ groups are expected to reiterate the demand for a P125 wage increase. “If there’s anything that the government should immediately act upon, it is increasing the small pay that workers and employees receive,” she said. (Bulatlat.com)

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