The 1st of May – a day of victory and continuing struggle, Akbayan Youth herds to the symbolic Mendiola to celebrate the triumphs accomplished by the working class and to register the battles that must be fought.
The rapid inflation rate and poverty prevalence are causing a hole in the back pockets of many Filipinos. In this nation, where unemployment is just so vast, citizens tend to take on any jobs available and take perils of insufficient wage and minimum benefits.
For the moment, while the system of employment is still not amenable for wage increase, we push for an increased non-wage benefit. Should we not give up insisting for an increased wage, we still encourage and urge the administration to at least, craft necessary economic policies that will bring it closer to the “living wage” where workers can passably attend to the fast-rising cost of living.
As we continue fighting for sufficient and humane wage, it is also important to ensure that private sectors also aid to maintain the permanency of a worker’s employment. This bill will stop the bleeding caused by market’s greed for profit. Many companies also restrict union activity, preventing the creation worker’s solidarity that will lead to the betterment of their lives. In the rural areas, many farmers, who toil as much if not more than their urban counterparts, are still subject to the whims of big landowners. Women, on the other hand, toil not only in companies, but in homes where their labor is not only subject to the control of market forces, but also the machismo of men.
As we believe that the government should have interventions to private sectors, we appeal to the administration to certify the security of tenure bill as priority legislation. This bill will also ensure that stipulations in the Labor Code are implemented accordingly. Given these measures, there will be a secured and safe employment that will be provided for the people.
Compounding the issues of contractualization, union of workers, women’s right, peasants’ dependency on landowners and urban poor’s concern is the fact that the Philippine unemployment rate has changed very little since 2006 (vacillation from 7-8 percent). Nearly half of these are young people, many of whom enter the workforce after paying huge sums to a largely privatized educational system.
As a response, instead of strengthening the capital of the existing industries, government should invest more on supporting the SMEs and on the number of laborers to construct and maintain public infrastructure.
Working for a just way of living is what we aim as individuals and as workers and a just way of living is reflective on two major factors—income and necessities. The fast tracking increase of the basic needs prices is not equitable with the worker’s salary, as discussed. Basic needs, we deem, should be the top priority of the government. Workers find it very hard to provide humane living for their families as the government still has minimum mechanisms to regulate the price, specifically the price of fuel. Fuel price hikes reflect the movement of the price of fuel in the global market down to the price of the most basic and essential needs of the people.
Apparently, just like the increased wage, government should have at least, partial control of the market. Monitoring is an important initial methodology to take the succeeding actions as leaving the market alone to impose its own policy continues to fail the people.
Also, a warning of rice shortage is still upbeat. Making sure that there will be enough local warehouses with domestically produced rice will be an effective initiative for the government to increase the fluidity of rice flow in the country. It will also ensure government’s control over the price of rice. Government should also give enough support, may it be technologically and financially, to small local producers.
We recognize the government’s effort and dedication in trying to melt down graft and corruption as its main mechanism in alleviating poverty. However, we still strongly believe that economic reforms should be the center of all these actions. Again, we firmly believe that market is driving this society and so the governments should intervene to successfully eradicate poverty.
On top of all the young workers’ issue lies the issue of deteriorating quality of education in the Philippines. We still believe that failure to reform education equates to failure to providing decent work and decent future for the youth. We deem that education, as one of the basic social services, should be provided to each and every individual to be able to attain decent living in the near future.
The Aquino administration has proven its dedication to combat corruption in the Philippines. The resignation of Ombudsman Merciditas Gutierrez was merely the first triumph in an anti-plunder crusade. This crusade will ultimately allow the government to have more money to spend on basic services such as education. An administration serious about anti-corruption will benefit the working class. Despite this, Akbayan Youth recognizes the many challenges ahead.
Akbayan Youth also recognizes that the struggle for worker’s rights transcends the fight for good governance. Regardless of who occupies the seat of power, the working class struggle will not strengthen without the spirit of solidarity. It is through mass struggles and collective action that we truly commemorate the spirit of May 1st.