Sugarcane farm workers in Batangas protest before DOLE

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Farm workers from Batangas, led by the Sugarfolks’ Unity for Genuine Agricultural Reform (SUGAR)- Batangas, protested before the national office of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in Intramuros, Manila, on April 26.

They aired their grievances such as low wages, lack of benefits and subsidies amid the difficulties caused by El Nino in the sugarcane fields. They also denounced the agency for failing to defend farm workers from state forces’ attacks and violations of their rights.

According to the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura’s (UMA) data, the daily wage received by sugarcane field workers is the cheapest compared to the already low minimum wage in the agricultural sector. In Region IV-A, where Batangas is located, the Ibon Foundation estimated that a five-person family needs ₱1,123 daily wages to survive. Despite this, the daily wage in the region is pegged at ₱385-₱520 based on the last increases implemented in September 2023.

Farm workers denounced the low wages, particularly the differing rates among provinces and towns due to wage rationalization. They say this is wrong because their expenses are equal.

SUGAR-Batangas also called for adequate benefits, subsidies and production protection, especially during the current El Niño season that coincided with the 4-month Tiempo Muerto. The ₱7,000-₱10,000 government subsidy to help them when Central Azucarera de Don Pedro Inc. closed (CADPI) on December 15th, 2022 was not enough.

The sugarcane workers also expressed their readiness to participate in actions marking International Labor Day on May 1.

AB: Sugarcane farm workers in Batangas protest before DOLE