Workers call for substantial wage increases on May 1

This article is available in Pilipino

Thousands of workers from major Philippine cities took to the streets on May 1, International Labor Day, to call for substantial wage increases and job security. They denounced Ferdinand Marcos Jr for his hypocritical gestures and failure to respond to workers’ grievances.

In Metro Manila, 10,000 workers under the All Philippine Trade Unions (APTU) marched from España to Mendiola Bridge in Manila. The APTU consists of the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), Nagkaisa! Labor Coalition, Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), and other workers’ groups. Farmers, professionals, youth and other democratic sectors participated in the march.

After the Mendiola rally, the KMU and the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan marched to the US Embassy to condemn continuing human rights violations intensified by US military assistance. They condemned Marcos’ subservience to the US and called for the abrogation of unequal military treaties.

In Laguna, up to 3,000 workers, youth, church people and others gathered at Calamba Crossing. A program was also held inside the University of the Philippines-Los Banos.

In Cebu City, workers commemorated labor day with a march along Osmeña Boulevard. In Davao City, 400 members of the KMU-Southern Mindanao Region and other patriotic organizations gathered for the May One commemoration. They said the ₱428 to ₱443 minimum wage in the region is grossly deficient to meet a family’s basic needs.

In Albay, workers in Legazpi City gathered under the leadership of the May One Committee Bicol. Drivers belonging to the No to Jeepney Phaseout Alliance joined the rally with a caravan from Busay, Daraga.

In Baguio City, members of KMU-Baguio and others gathered at Igorot Park despite the cold and pouring rain. According to the rallyists, the Cordillera worker’s ₱400 daily wage could not catch up with rising commodity prices.

In Bacolod City, the United Labor Alliance Negros (ULAN) led mass actions for rights and a ₱750 national minium wage. On their way to rally, the delegation from Kabankalan City and South Negros were blocked by police near Lorenzo Zayco District Hospital.

In Cagayan de Oro, police also blocked 70 motorcycle-riding members of the KMU in Barangay Bugo headed for the city center to participate in the rally. According to the police, orders to “monitor” the mass actions of militant workers’ organizations across the country came from the national leadership.

Meanwhile, APTU condemned Marcos’ arbitrary formation of a committee for coordination and management of resolving labor cases in the country through the Executive Order (EO) 23.

The current minimum wage is grossly insufficient as it is way below even by the poverty threshold set by the reactionary state, according to a study by the Ibon Foundation.

The Philippine Statistics Authority has set the poverty threshold for a family at a low ₱12,030 per month or ₱79 per day. The national average minimum wage of ₱8,902 per month is much lower than this. This is way below (63% less) than the average living wage of ₱ 23,787 per month.

The minimum wage of farm workers is even lower. According to state statistics, workers in plantations, sugarcane fields and other agricultural enterprises receive on average only ₱331 per day.

Workers call for substantial wage increases on May 1