Labor groups protest 'one failed year' under Duterte
MANILA, Philippines – “Isang bigong taon.” (One failed year).
This was how labor unions assessed how President Rodrigo Duterte’s attended to the needs of their sector in his first year in office.
Labor groups Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (Sentro), Partido Manggagawa (PM), Federation of Free Workers (FFW), National Federation of Labor Unions (Naflu), and the Philippine Airlines Employees Association (Palea) staged a protest on Friday, June 30, at the Boy Scout Circle in Quezon City to express their disappointment in the President’s failure to keep his promises.
“We tried to rate the President’s performance as objective as we could, but the outcomes for labor over his first 365 days have been generally wanting, have given us false expectations, and given us many unfulfilled promises,” the groups said in a unified statement.
Among the issues they raised:
- Persistence of contractualization even after the release of Department of Labor and Employment’s DO 174 (READ: Nearly 50,000 workers regularized during Duterte's first year)
- No directive from the President to certify as urgent the House and Senate bills that aim to end contractualization
- No wage increase has been implemented while the value of wages continue to drop
- Regional wage-setting still in place
- Failure to grant the requested P500 subsidy for minimum wage earners
- Imposition of excise tax on fuel under the proposed tax preform package of the government that passed the House
They, however, lauded Duterte for endorsing for ratification the International Labor Convention 151 on Labor Relations in the Public Sector to the Senate. This would guarantee government workers the right to organize to bargain for better working conditions and other benefits.
They also acknowledged the administration’s efforts in deputizing labor union leaders as labor law compliance officers. This would boost the current manpower shortage of inspectors. There are currently 574 inspectors monitoring over 900,000 business establishments in the country. (READ: DOLE gets P15M to hire more labor inspectors, boost anti-endo drive)
The Associated Labor Union and the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) urged the President to “make up his mind” on increase in wages and the proposal lodged against contractualization.
“Mr. Duterte had asked us during the May 1 Labor Day dialogue to give him time in the issue of contractualization. We are calling on him to make up his mind now because millions of contractual workers are on the line, waiting and hoping to fulfil his promise to end it,” said ALU-TUCP spokesperson Alan Tanjusay.
“The ALU-TUCP also urges Duterte to make a meaningful impact in the lives of workers by raising the level of the daily minimum wage and enforce policies toward lowering the rising cost of living,” he added.
Militant migrant labor group Migrante described Duterte’s first year as a year of “big talk” and “band-aid solutions.”
The group cited figures from think tank IBON Foundation that puts the number of Filipinos looking for quality jobs at 11.5 million.
While the government has repatriated 5,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) stranded in Saudi Arabia, Migrante said that there are still many needing assistance there.
DOLE Undersecretary Dominado Say said there were OFWs who did not qualify in the Saudi government’s 90-day amnesty program because they have pending cases. He said they would ask their counterparts there to grant these Filipino workers pardon.
Another accomplishment of the administration is the establishment of a one-stop shop for aspiring OFWs. It has established an OFW desk to hear out the complaints of the workers in distress. (READ: How Duterte gov't cared for OFWs in first 100 days)
Say, the acting administrator of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, also said the promised OFW ID will be given this year to new migrant workers. The OFW ID will also serve as an ATM they can use to transfer and receive money rather than avail themselves of the services of remittance centers.
But Migrante maintained that the government should focus on its promise of bringing back the OFWs to the Philippines by providing opportunities for them here.
“Unless President Duterte makes good his promise to address the root causes of forced migration, it will be a never-ending and chronic cycle for OFWs and their families. If Duterte sincerely wants our OFWs to come back home, we need more regular jobs, higher wages, and pro-labor policies, not a labor export policy that has long gone bankrupt,” said Migrante. – Rappler.com