July 23, 2014
Labor group pickets DOLE, calls Aquino “insignificant” to workers ahead of SONA
DAVAO CITY – Militant labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno in Southern Mindanao staged a picket protest at the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Region 11 today to denounce Aquino’s insignificance ahead of the self-praise that workers are going to hear from the president’s fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA). KMU explained that the lack of a substantial and wage hike and the Aquino government’s failure to stop massive contractualization has made life miserable for workers.
Romualdo Basilio, secretary general of KMU Southern Mindanao explained, “We expect the SONA to be full of lies and hocus pocus, in the same way that official government statistics are used to paint a pretty picture of labor today. But the workers know that our wages remain low, there is not enough work, and every day, our rights are being attacked.”
Basilio questioned the employment rate of the region which was declared by DOLE at 95% as of April 2014. He said that in government data, the nature of work as well as work schemes are considered no different from regular work. According to government data, there are 1.971M employed workers in Davao Region. Only 104,000 are unemployed and 385,000 are underemployed.
“There are seasonal workers, workers who are paid in the pakyawan system, or kabo system that do not receive regular wages. The employment data is misrepresented to boost government image and impress. But the reality on the ground is that there is not enough decent work,” Basilio added.
Moreover, Basilio said the contractualization has gone amok under Aquino, and it is practically legalized.
“That the number of workers under contractual arrangements have gone up is very worrisome because contractualization erodes very significant workers’ rights, such as the right to unionize, to be protected under a collective bargaining agreement, and right to tenure. In the Philippines, it is estimated that 7 out of 10 workers are contractuals. If you are a contractual, you are stripped of those rights and become disposable,” Basilio offered.
Aquino’s staunch defense of DAP and repeated calls of support were also rejected by the labor group. Of the 140 billion DAP funds that Aquino channeled to legislators from 2011 to 2012, the group said that this is equivalent to the wages of 1.6 million minimum wage earners (non-agricultural = P312.00) in Southern Mindanao for an entire year.
“Aquino has been unmasked as a haciendero, pro-capitalist, President no different from the traditional politicians he claimed he did not represent four years ago. He could no longer fool the people. When he implemented the DAP, he plundered billions of people’s money and violated the Constitution – that’s why he needs to be impeached or ousted.”
KMU and other progressive groups will be marching to Rizal Park to hold a People’s SONA on July 28, 2014.###
Reference: Romualdo Basilio, secretary general. KMU Southern Mindanao, 0935-451-2418