Together with 800 delegates of the World Social Forum on Migrant Labor, the Nagkaisa broad labor coalition would march on November 30 to call on the Aquino administration to reject neoliberal policies and to pursue the policy of labor and economic protectionism.
In two decades, Philippine governments have swallowed hook, line and sinker the policies endorsed by foreign institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Now, it must be said again, the Filipino people are not better off with the policies of liberalization, deregulation, privatization, and flexibilization of labor. Workers are fed up and we demand immediate action.
The proof of the pudding is in the eating. The Filipino workers took the bitter pills of neoliberal policies. But instead of recuperating from crippling poverty, they suffer even more from the following conditions:
Low Wages and Cheap Labor Policy. The minimum wage is not even half the “cost of living” – the necessary costs for a decent life for a working class family. Workers are forced to go on overtime because of starvation wages. Even with the Philippine putting up a “baratilyo” or “bargain sale” of its workers, foreign direct investments have not picked up as fast as it did in our neighbors in the Southeast Asian region.
Outsourcing and Contractualization. To promote cheap and docile workers, employers have restricted the regularization of its workers even for those who perform usually necessary and desirable work for six months. The scourge of contractualization ravaged not only our security of tenure but also our rights to self-organization and bargain collectively.
Lack of regular employment and cheap labor policy force our kababayans to migrate and seek greener pastures overseas; hence, its by-product, the tacit policy of labor migration, which have made our economy dependent on dollar remittances from overseas Filipino workers.
High Power Rates and Privatization of the Power Industry. With the passage of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act or EPIRA on June 2001, power rates in the country have gone up. The cost of doing business in the Philippines is among the highest in Asia due to the high cost of electricity.
Spiraling oil prices. Government insists on the oil deregulation law despite the indisputable fact of unabated oil price hikes and incessant protests from civil society groups including workers’ organizations. The Noynoy Aquino regime put up a review committee on this issue. But instead of drafting proposal to reverse deregulation, it became a mere mouthpiece of the oil oligarchs.
Neoliberal economics is pro-foreign capital and anti-labor. It not only serves the interest of foreign monopoly capital, in the persona of transnational companies. It is a recolonization of the Philippines by foreign powers.
On November 30, the Nagkaisa broad coalition is in unity with regional and global movements against corporate greed. People before profit! Another World is Possible. We call on Noynoy Aquino to adhere to the Constitutional provisions on “full protection to labor” and the “national economy”.
Economic struggle at the factory and shopfloor level must extend to the political arena. The labor movement must transcend traditional localized unionism to lead the discourse on policies and laws that affect the Filipino masses. We challenge the contending parties in the 2013 elections – especially the Liberal Party Coalition (LPC) and United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) to present concrete proposals on how to alleviate poverty and resolve the everyday problems of the masses.