“Marcos may already be dead, but his legacy of contractualization, cheap labor, no-union no-strike policy, killings, abductions, illegal arrests, torture, militarization of peasant and Lumad communities, and much more are still alive and continues to oppress Filipino workers and people.”
By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA – The Duterte presidency has been in power for exactly five months this November 30. But to Filipino workers, it has been a long wait for his promise to end contractualization, among other progressive sounding promises.
“There is still no upward improvement in wages. There is still no large-scale ending of contractualization, even of just ENDO (end of contract). There is still no clear follow up on independent foreign policy,” Elmer “Bong” Labog, chairperson of Kilusang Mayo Uno, told Bulatlat in an interview.
What is also sad for the labor group is that President Duterte has adopted in his program the same neoliberal policies of the Aquino Government. For years, progressive groups have bewailed how the policies of liberalization, deregulation, and privatization have combined to increase prices and user fees beyond the reach of ordinary people. Meanwhile, wages and incomes have been stagnant due to wage regionalization and contractualization.
“We still hope that among Duterte’s many promises there’ll be some concrete followup,” Labog said. Among these, he cited freeing the political detainees, for example, and implementing a minimum wage hike at least.
In a press conference in Quezon City, Labog and other leaders of progressive organizations announced plans to commemorate the 153rd birthday of Andres Bonifacio with a rally at Mendiola, near Malacañang. The protest assembly would be in Welcome Rotonda at 10 am. Participants would then march to Mendiola where they will hold the main program for the day from 12 noon to 2 pm.
“Bonifacio is a hero to Filipino workers. We will mark his birth anniversary with a vow to continue his unfinished revolution for national democracy against the US imperialism and against the modern day Aguinaldos,” Labog said.
In previous years they have brought the protest to the US Embassy in Manila. But this year, the KMU hoped President Duterte would hear them if they rallied at Mendiola. The rally is also linked to calls for ending Marcos’ legacy of anti-worker and anti-people policies, which, they said are still being implemented today.
Labog said they hold the Duterte administration accountable for the burial of an ousted dictator at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. He said they will call on President Duterte to instead bury Marcos’ legacy of neoliberal policies, which they consider a bane to workers until now.
“Marcos may already be dead, but his legacy of contractualization, cheap labor, no union-no strike policy, killings, abductions, illegal arrests, torture, militarization of peasant and Lumad communities, and much more are still alive and continues to oppress Filipino workers and people,” Labog said.
Estimates vary but even in government surveys the number of contractual workers has been increasing. Contractual workers are those who are employed either on fixed term basis or as “regular” by a third party provider but working under fixed-term contract for a different employer.
Ending contractualization is supposed to be President Duterte’s marching orders to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), but the latter until now is still polishing with employers’ groups its unified proposals on tackling contractualization.
Neither has it acted in favor of regularizing workers involved in various labor disputes where the courts or the National Labor Relations Commission have already ruled the workers should indeed be regular under their actual employers.
For as long as the people’s demands are not yet truly attended to, Labog said there will be rallies and protest actions.