BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
Members of the groups Kilusan ng Manggagawang Kababaihan (KMK or Movement of Women Workers and GABRIELA staged a protest action against retrenchments this afternoon at the Boy Scouts’ Circle along Tomas Morato Avenue in Quezon City.
Some 15,000 workers in the Philippines have lost their jobs from November 2008 to January 2009 alone, government data show – while around 19,000 more were made to work for reduced working hours. The KMU chapter in Southern Tagalog, the Pagkakaisa ng mga Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan (Pamantik or Unity of Workers in Southern Tagalog), estimates that around 40,000 workers from the electronics and car manufacturing industries in the Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon) area would lose their jobs by the first half of the year. These two industries along with other industries engaged in export, such as garments and toys, are expected to be hit hard by the crisis as demand from export destinations such as the US weakens because of the crisis.
It is not just the local-based workers who are taking the axe. Government data further show that some 500,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) will be sent home this year due to the crisis.
Some 5,800 OFWs have been sent home from November 2008 to January 2009, government data further show.
Data from the Center for Women’s resources (CWR) show that majority of workers in the electronics and garments sectors are women. Females comprise 72.5 percent of electronics workers and 86.5 percent of garments workers in the Phhilippines, respectively, CWR data show.
“These retrenchments worsen the poverty we have been enduring, said Nitz Gonzaga, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU or May 1st Movement) vice chair for women’s affairs. We are being deprived of our right to live as our jobs are being taken away from us.”
“We survive, although at the same time enduring hardships, for a slong as we have jobs,” Gonzaga said.
Meanwhile, acting KMK chair Zaida Cayetano assailed the Arroyo government for taking the side of capitalists against the workers. She criticized what she described as the Arroyo government’s lack of programs to address the people’s needs amid the crisis.
“Where is this government’s concern for the people?” she said.
The protesters called for programs that would bring “genuine progress” to the people. (Bulatlat.com)