On behalf of the bishops and priests of the Visayas Clergy Discernment Group (VCDG), I would like to call on government officials and those running for elective positions to meaningfully celebrate the Feast Day of Saint Joseph the Worker and the International Workers’ Day on May 1, 2013, by enacting laws and implementing programs promoting the human dignity of workers.
We are one with Pope Francis who said in his book On Heaven and Earth, “We have to search for equality of opportunities and rights, to fight for social benefits, a dignified retirement, holidays, rest, freedom for trade unions. All of these issues create social justice. There should be no have-nots and I want to emphasize that the worst wretchedness is not to be able to earn your bread, not to have the dignity of work.”
Recently, workers from the different parts of the Visayas and the whole country have shared with us that their rights as workers have been violated due to the following: unemployment, low wages, contractualization, and union-busting. How can they joyfully celebrate May 1?
While May 1 celebrates the victory of the 1886 workers’ strike for an eight-hour workday, we are appalled that some garment workers in factories in the Mactan Export Processing Zone in Cebu are forced to work for more than 16 hours a day until the quota is reached, else they would be “shot by the guard.”
Pope Francis also said, “We live in the most unequal part of the world, which has grown the most yet reduced misery the least.The unjust distribution of goods persists, creating a situation of social sin that cries out to Heaven and limits the possibilities of a fuller life for so many of our brothers.”
What the Holy Father said is also true in our country where amidst so-called “economic growth”, poverty incidence remained the same since 2006, according to the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB). So many of our workers have become jobless, hungry and homeless.
Last February 2013 in an Election Summit of the Archdiocese of Cebu, workers listed the following as their agenda: 1) Employment through developing domestic industries; 2) Decent and living wage: Support legislated wage increase; 3) Regular jobs: Abolish contractualization of labor; 4) Worker’s rights protected: Abolish the power of the Labor Secretary to assume jurisdiction of labor dispute.
We, the electorate must ask the political candidates to heed the Workers’ Agenda. A candidate’s commitment to the fulfillment of workers’ rights and the promotion of the workers’ dignity must be one of the important considerations in voting for him/her. All of us must do our share to address the workers’ plight, as Pope Francis reminded us that failing to do this “is going against the commandment of God which says that we have to transform the world.”
Bishop Gerardo A. Alminaza, D.D.
Auxiliary Bishop of Jaro/ VCDG Head Convenor
Tel. No. 032-4068079
VISAYAS CLERGY DISCERNMENT GROUP
E-Mail Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
April 29, 2013
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