Labor senatoriables held a press conference at the foot of Mendiola Bridge early morning today to commemorate International Labor Day. The candidates, who have coalesced under the LABOR WIN alliance, said that the said venue was chosen not only as a message to Malacanang to persuade House and the Senate to prohibit contractualization, enact a national minimum wage, and adopt a policy of price control.
“Our assembly at the Palace gates is also a reminder to the Filipino working class that there can be no genuine social change and meaningful reforms unless political power truly serves the interests of labor. The electoral intervention by labor groups is but a small step towards this historical mission,” said Ernie Arellano of National Confederation of Labor (NCL).
Victory by Labor
An optimistic Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) national chair Ka Leody de Guzman agreed, “Kahit hindi pa naitatala ang resulta ng halalan, maari nang sabihing may nakamit nang mga tagumpay ang kilusang paggawa ngayong halalang 2019”.
The victories that de Guzman pertains to is the “higher level of unity” attained by various groups under the LABOR WIN alliance. “We have not only transcended our ideological differences and innate competition for the affiliation of local trade unions. More so, we now unite not only trade union demands but on the need for labor participation in politics, during elections and after it, in order to reach our shared vision of a prosperous, egalitarian, pro-labor and pro-poor society”.
Neri Colmenares of the Makabayan Coalition explained, “A strong and united workers’ movement that is not limited to factory struggles is an essential component in the people’s struggle against the more brazen attacks to human rights under the present regime”.
“If the election surveys are to be believed, it is evident that the hold of patronage politics, especially in the ranks of the desperate poor, is still strong. But it will soon break as workers are now beginning to vote not based on individual preferences but on their common interest as a class. Hence, we are now witnessing the blossoming of the workers’ movement as a powerful political force to change society,” Sonny Matula of the Federation of Free Workers (FFW) furthered.
Allan Montano, also of FFW sums it up by exclaiming “Manggagawa na! We have long asked for pro-labor and pro-poor reforms to be passed by Congress and the Senate but our demands fall on deaf ears of lawmakers who advance profit before people. The imperative is for labor leaders to get elected into the legislature to fight for workers’ interests. History reveals that the path of electoral participation, alongside the mass struggles of the workers outside the halls of Congress, brought the legislation of various labor standards such as the 8-hour working day, the minimum wage, the right to form unions and collectively bargain, the weekend, etc.”
Manggagawa, pamunuan ang laban ng bayan!
The LABOR WIN candidates were joined in by the Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM), who assembled in Mendiola. The PLM is the political party that fielded Ka Leody de Guzman in the senatorial race. It is also running in the party-list elections.
PLM national chair Sonny Melencio said, “Electoral victory, to win seats in Congress and the Senate is but one of our objectives in participating in the elections. We aspire for representation inside the elite-dominated legislative branch of the capitalist state to give voice to the toiling and impoverished majority. But more than this, we will grab the opportunity provided by the elections to massively organize the workers and the poor under a pro-reform platform and to raise the discourse beyond the mudslinging and the muckraking of the trapos.
Melencio added, “In the latter half of the Duterte regime, we expect the administration to dominate Congress and the local governments. It would be harsher and ruthless in its implementation of the neoliberal economic policies of liberalization, deregulation, privatization, and contractualization in order to please foreign investors and local capitalists.
He warned that the administration’s ‘war on drugs’ , which is actually a war on the poor will only be more unrelenting coupled with its continued subservience to the whims of the Chinese government, not just in the disputed areas of the West Philippine Sea but also in its intervention on the country’s economic affairs.
To counter these attacks on labor and the Filipino people, Melencio asserted that, “the struggle against fascism needs the leadership of the labor movement. Hence, we welcome the massive support enjoyed by Ka Leody and the LABOR WIN slate, especially among the young voters, in the ongoing electoral campaign. The labor movement will be strengthened by fresh forces coming from the ranks of the youth”.
Unified Labor March by Church-Labor Conference, PAGGAWA, KMU, FFW, and BMP
In the afternoon, various groups marched thousands of workers from different assemblies in Metro Manila and converged in a unity march along Quezon Bridge before holding a joint program at Liwasang Bonifacio.
The “unity march” assembles the broadest ever convergence of the labor movement to date with the Church-Labor Conference, Pagkakaisa ng Paggawa (PAGGAWA), Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), Federation of Free Workers (FFW), Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), among others. ###
Ka Leody de Guzman 0920-5200672
Sonny Melencio 0908-8173169
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