Few days after Duterte took over Malacañang as the country’s 16th president, contractual and regular workers from Southern Tagalog trooped to the Department of Labor and Employment to present the sector’s agenda to the newly appointed secretary and undersecretary.
”Under the Aquino administration, the plight of Southern Tagalog workers have plunged deeper into poverty. Majority of the workers are now contractuals, which comprise 80-90% of the total labor force. This equates to more workers suffering from very low wages and non-provision of benefits. We want to see genuine change come; we want to take the opportunity to push for calls that will truly uplift our working conditions and quality of life,” said PAMANTIK-KMU Secretary General Allan Bagas.
At 11AM, the workers’ representatives from PAMANTIK-KMU, OLALIA-KMU, and other militant organizations met with Secretary Silvestre Bello and Undersecretary Joel Maglunsod. They presented the workers’ agenda that highlighted calls such as ending of contractualization, implementation of the P750 national minimum wage, and scrapping of anti-worker policies such as the Two-Tiered Wage System.
The leaders also put to the table the current campaigns in the region such as the more than two months strike at Manila Cordage Company and Manco Synthetics Incorporated, picket protest at Ebara Benguet, the reinstatement of Tanduay contractual workers, and the recently organized picket protest of Sorosoro Ibaba Development Cooperative contractual workers.
“With the pro-worker background and stance of the new secretary and undersecretary, we are optimistic that the new administration will really usher in genuine change and fulfill Duterte’s promise of no more endo. But we will not just wait for it to happen. This is the time that we will become more vigilant and assertive in advancing our rights. We will push the new administration to finally put an end to US dictates of neoliberal policies, which is the primary reason why Filipino workers are being treated as commodities,” Bagas ended.
While the dialogue is ongoing, workers outside the DoLE building held a short program to continuously present the workers’ agenda in the region. # # #