On Labor Day, workers demand urgent economic relief

Women workers demand cash aid to tide them over during this crisis. (Photo by Carlo Manalansan / Bulatlat)

“If he has no plans of giving much-needed and much-deserved cash aid for the workers and the people, it is better for Duterte to just resign.”


MANILA — Gina Escobar, 52, had been doing odd jobs since the pandemic began. She used to be a house helper but when lockdown was imposed in March 2020, her employer for 11 years let her go.

As a single parent with three children to feed, Escobar worked as a contractual for five months in a sardines factory, earning P1,000 to P1,700 (US$21 to $35) per week. When her contract ended in January, this year, she looked for another source of income. She gets P350 ($7) per day for working in a charcoal factory.

On Labor Day, Escobar joined other members of Kilusan ng Manggagawang Kababaihan in a protest action to demand wage subsidy.

“My salary is not enough to cover all our expenses,” she told Bulatlat in Filipino, adding that the prices of basic commodities have gone up since last year.

She said the cash aid she received from the government’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) does not also suffice for their needs. Escobar said her family thrives on rice, noodles, dried fish and canned goods as pork and chicken have become expensive. She also spends P20 ($0.4) per day for the online learning of her youngest daughter, now in Grade 8.

Raffy Laurente, 37, a worker in a local cargo company, had the same sentiments.

Since the pandemic, the company where Laurente works has relied on skeletal workforce, reducing his work days and his salary to only P2,000 ($41) per week.

Laurente said his family only received a one-time cash subsidy of P16,000 ($332) last year.

“I just borrow money from friends and neighbors to be able to sustain our needs,” Laurente, a father of two, told Bulatlat in an interview. “Government should provide immediate aid to workers.”

Laurente echoed the call of his fellow workers for P10,000 ($207) cash aid.

Labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno asserted that there are enough funds to provide the much-needed aid for Filipino workers, especially those who have lost their jobs.

According to the Department of Labor and Employment, 428,701 employees from 26,000 business establishments were displaced from January to December last year due to the pandemic.

KMU Chairperson Elmer Labog said, “If he has no plans of giving much-needed and much-deserved cash aid for the workers and the people, it is better for Duterte to just resign.”

Kilusang Mayo Uno calls for the realignment of the P19-billion budget of the anti-insurgency task force to help workers affected by Covid-19. (Photo by Carlo Manalansan / Bulatlat)

Labog added that funds for these subsidies can be sourced from the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF Elcac). The P19 billion budget ($394 million) of NTF-Elcac, he said, could be used to provide P10,000 cash aid to 1.6 million families, or P100 ($2) daily wage subsidy to 7.5 million wage earners.

“The NTF Elcac harms and kills workers, and it would be much more beneficial for us to receive aid than to fund that red-tagger agency,” said Labog.(https://www.bulatlat.com)

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