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ILIGAN, Philippines – About a 1,000 workers and activists brave the heat of the sun and took to the streets of Iligan City to demand an increase of more than 50% in minimum wages as they marked Labor Day on Monday, May 1.
Jane Bernardo, a Partido Manggagawa leader, said the street demonstration was participated by several groups who want the government to grant workers throughout the country a uniform minimum wage of P1,234 a day.
The current minimum daily wage in Iligan and other urban areas in Northern Mindanao is P405.
The demonstrators also demanded a no-nonsense protection of workers’ rights and their trade unions.
“Ang panawagan, umento sa suholan. Kab-uton ang makabuhi nga suholan ug wagtangon ang kontraktwalisasyon (Our call is for increased wages. We need liveable wages, and get rid of ‘contractualization’),” said Bernardo.
She and other labor leaders in Iligan said they resented that labor unions which defend the rights of workers end up being red-tagged by groups identified with the government.
Lawyer Leonilo Ratilla, vice president of the Federation of Democratic Labor Organizations, said there used to be a dozen labor unions in Iligan but their numbers, including their worker-members, decreased due to “contractualization.”
Contractualization is one of the most controversial labor practices in the country. It involves ending a worker’s employment contract before completing the sixth month, after which the employee becomes a regular worker entitled to various health, security, and insurance benefits prescribed by law.
Ratilla called on the government to end the contractualization practice, saying it has resulted in the violation of the constitutional rights of workers.
Meanwhile, Iligan Mayor Frederick Siao said the local government were keeping an eye on employers in the city to make sure they were not violating the rights of workers.
“We will protect the workers from unfair labor practices, and make sure they can access the government for aid,” Siao said.
The demonstrators also criticized President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in connection to his trip to the United States “instead of facing Filipinos on Labor Day.” – Rappler.com