PRESS RELEASE: As Aquino’s last SONA draws near, workers stage unity march vs contractualization

shirtdesFour days before the last State of the Nation Address (SONA) of BS Aquino, regional labor center PAMANTIK-KMU emblazoned the workers’ voice against contractualization through the Bigkisan ng Manggagawa Laban sa Kontraktwalisasyon (Unity of Workers Against Contractualization) at Amar Balibago, Santa Rosa City today.

This is the workers’ own version of SONA: the State of the Workers’ Address (SOWA). More than 3,000 workers, youth and students joined the event, which was accented by a sea of red shirts.

Allan Bagas, secretary-general of PAMANTIK, said that the contractualization scheme hits home with the concerns of the workers: job security, low wages, lack of benefits, among others.

“Seven to nine out of ten workers in the country experience all of these as contractual workers, which is another excuse for capitalists to get cheap labor and for BS Aquino to say that many are employed – albeit without saying they are still impoverished,” he added.

With them are workers’ unions and the thousands of contractual workers in the region, including the Tanduay contractuals’ association Tanggulang Ugnayang Daluyang Lakas ng Anakpawis sa Tanduay Distillers, Inc. (TUDLA), which has been on strike for more than two months now, since the latest Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) Region IV-A decision to regularize 103 casuals has not been implemented.

Bagas said that the strike shows how contractuals can unite and fight for their rights to higher wages, benefits, tenure and better workplaces.

“Like the victory of Sta. Rosa Coca-cola workers last 2013, the Tanduay workers’ strike is in the history books. Millions of contractuals in the country now look up to them as an inspiration,” noted Bagas.

This follows yesterday’s Bigkisan ng Magsasaka, Kabataan at Manggagawa (Unity of Peasants, Youth and Workers) at Crossing, Calamba, where they expressed their issues and their own version of SONA; deemed more reliable and factual than Aquino’s actual SONAs.

They also merged with the eventual victims of the Laguna Lake Megadike Project in lakeside communities in Binan and Sta. Rosa after the SOWA, which was led by the Save Laguna Lake Movement (SLLM).

The multisectoral march will push through to Manila tomorrow, as they troop to central offices in the city to protest contractualization and other neoliberal policies in the country. They will also go to the US Embassy and the Chinese consulate to assert Philippine national sovereignty in the face of territorial disputes and foreign domination. ###


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