19.Nov.03    Análisis y Noticias

Workers ask: “Where is Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas and what is DOLE doing to alleviate the condition of workers?”

In a protest at the Department of Labor and Employment office, labor unions led by the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) slammed Acting Labor Secretary Manuel Imson for disregarding the plight of workers and wage earners. The protesters also asked the labor official to account for the grave graft and corruption in various labor agencies especially in the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC).

“DOLE has become totally ineffective in its duty to alleviate the living and working conditions of the country’s workforce. Instead of supporting wage hike demands by workers, DOLE once again bowed to the whims of capitalist employers to defer another wage increase. Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards (RTWPB) must be dismantled. These wage boards only serve to prevent the implementation of a national minimum wage.”

Majority of the protesters from the Ilaw at Buklod ng Manggagawa sa San Miguel Corporation employees union also assailed the labor department for its constant preference to Danding Cojuangco’s SMC management in decisions to various labor disputes in SMC plants and subsidiaries like the Campo Carne Inc, La Tondena Distilleries, Cosmos Bottling Corporation and Magnolia Breeding Farm.

“Instead of providing solutions to the worsening employment situation and chronic poverty, what we’re seeing and experiencing is steady economic detonation. DOLE officials and President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo can issue as many assurances as they can, but they will never able to assuage the workers’ increasing dissatisfaction and anger,’ KMU Secretary General Joel Maglunsod said.

Maglunsod stressed that the government’s antipathy to the workers’ clamor for a P125 across-the-board wage hike had already sealed the fate of the government when it comes to winning the hearts of workers. “The spate of lay-offs also strengthens the consensus in the labor front that this government is anti-worker: GMA hastens to assure employers of her complete cooperation regardless of the effects on labor.

“In the meantime, because of her allegiance to the anti-nationalist policies of globalization, namely privatization, deregulation and liberalization, local businesses are shutting down left and right. Macapagal-Arroyo is also earning the ire of the local small and medium business communities,” he said.

“An anti-worker president like Arroyo deserves nothing but protest and opposition from the broad ranks of poor people.