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Workers to press for wage hike, labor reforms
By Mayen Jaymalin (The Philippine Star) Updated
April 24, 2012 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - At least 20,000 workers belonging to 40 labor groups will march to Malacañang to commemorate Labor Day on May 1 and demand a wage increase and other labor reforms.

Josua Mata, Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) secretary-general, said the protest action would be staged to get the attention of the government and pressure Malacañang to grant their demands. Mata said more than 40 labor groups would join the march dubbed as “Nagkaisa” that would set aside ideological differences of the labor organizations to show that the workers will not allow their rights to be ignored.

The group would demand a sufficient wage increase, rollback of oil prices and electricity, and stop the contractualization scheme used by many employers.

It will be the first time that they would march together after many years, Mata said.

Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) spokesman Alan Tanjusay expressed dismay over the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for favoring the position of employers on the wage issue.

“While the wage board in Metro Manila has yet to start public consultation, DOLE already declared that the salary increase would not be more than P21,” Tanjusay said.

He said the wage board should let the process take its course and listen to the voice of the workers and their need for a substantial wage increase. 

Federation of Free Workers (FFW) representative Julius Cainglet said the workers are no longer expecting the government to grant a salary increase as a gift to workers this coming Labor Day.

“We just want substantial wage increase, whether it be legislated or through wage board,” Cainglet said. He added that workers are still waiting for President Aquino to fulfill his promise to meet with workers on Labor Day.

During last year’s Labor Day, Cainglet said Aquino pledged to regularly meet with organized labor, but has not done so until this time.

DOLE sources confirmed that the President has yet to confirm any meeting with workers for the coming Labor Day celebration.

“We are still open to meet the President, we are inviting him to meet with us on Labor Day in Mendiola,” Cainglet said.

Cainglet said the Aquino government should be aware that united labor can translate into a workers’ vote in the 2013 elections. 

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