CABUYAO, LAGUNA – As elementary and high schools open classes today, workers from Southern Tagalog reiterate their stand in junking contractualization especially since the “K to 12 program means two more years of added expenses for parents who are minimum wage earners.”
This is in light of the ongoing strike of workers in a liquor factory in Cabuyao which started last May 18. Dante Ragasa, Vice President of the Tanggulang Ugnayan Daluyang Lakas ng Anakpawis sa Tanduay Distillers Inc. (TUDLA) said that their strike which is being staged for two weeks now, is precisely a fight for a better future for their children. TUDLA is calling for regularization of 397 workers or 90% of the workforce who have been working for Lucio Tan for 5 to 11 years and yet still earn a measer wage of P315, receive no benefits and no job security.
Ragasa, father to a 5-year-old boy, woke up at 4:00AM today at the picket line, but instead of doing the usual preparations for today’s program, he headed home for a while to help his wife in preparing for their daughter’s needs since this is his first day in Kindergarten. Ragasa said that the Noynoy Aquino government is heartless both in the education and labor sector – with two additional years for parents to provide school needs while the situation of workers remain dismal due to widespread contractualization.
“The strike is definitely taking its toll to our personal lives, since most of Tanduay workers are the breadwinners. But we will not stop until we have gained economic justice from Lucio Tan. Why is the Tanduay management still not giving in to our demands when families of those who have toiled for them are at stake?” he added.
Within 15 days, Tanduay workers have experienced a series of attempted dispersals from Lucio Tan’s security guards and hired goons injuring around 50 workers and supporters.
In connection, Ariel Velasquez, Chairperson of the Liga ng mga Manggagawa Para sa Regular na Hanapbuhay (LIGA), denounced both the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) and Department of Education (DepEd) for concocting a program which will clearly lead the Filipino youth to be tied to contractual jobs whether they finish high school or not. The vocational courses offered in senior high school are obviously given to fuel the already rampant contractualization and Labor Export Policy. According to LIGA, contractual jobs under agencies is the norm in Southern Tagalog where 70%-80% of the total workforce in industrial factories remain contractual.
“Here in Laguna, contractual workers in factories such as Sagara Metro Plastic Industrial Corporation., Manila Cordage Company, and Karzai Corporation are organizing themselves to fight for regularization. Much like the Tanduay workers’ struggle, the workers understand that only through collective strength can their lives improve,” Velasquez said. #