Date: Wed, 6 May 1998 23:36:49 -0400
From: Catherine Coumans <>
Subject: apec-L: Workers in the Philippines
To: <>
Message-ID: <>y Precedence: bulk

Newsclippings on the Labor Day (May 1) people's actions

Philippine Daily Inquirer, Front Page, 2 May 1998

Amid unrest, Ramos vows more jobs

TENS of thousands of workers may have lost their jobs due to the Asian economic crisis, but new jobs are being created as fast as they are laidoff, President Ramos said yesterday. ...

Militant labor groups, however, were unimpressed.

They said Mr. Ramos had done nothing much for workers except to implement anti-labor policies.

His six years in office has been sheer torture for the workers. The President did nothing for the workers but to legitimize the most exploitative labor (schemes) like contractualization and the regionalization of wage boards, said Nathanael Santiago, secretary general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN), during a rally at Liwasang Bonifacio yesterday.

No other President has been as ruthless to the workers as Ramos, Santiago added. ...

BAYAN rally

BAYAN was among the ... groups that joined the rally spearheaded by the Kilusang Mayo Uno at the Liwasang Bonifacio yesterday afternoon.

Other groups included the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), GABRIELA, League of Filipino Students (LFS), Confederation for the Unity, Advancement, and Recognition of Government Employees (COURAGE), Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD), KARAPATAN, and the Promotion for Church People's Response.

Santiago said the economic crisis aggravated the plight of workers. Thedaily cost of living jumped to P416 nationwide, from last year's P309, while the minimum wage stayed the same.

In January the purchasing power of the peso shrunk to P0.37 in Metro Manila, which means that the actual value of P198 national minimum wage is a measly P73.26, he told reporters.

But Santiago said the most pressing problem affecting workers was the massive layoffs. He cited figures released by the Department of Labor and Employment showing that 43,712 workers lost their jobs for the first quarter of the year, a 176-percent increase from the 15,848 recorded for the same period last year.

In cities and other areas in the provinces, hunger is triggered by growing unemployment, Santiago said.

KMU chair Crispin Beltran said the DOLE figures were a gross underestimation, noting that in Mindanao alone, some 300,00 workers lost their jobs in 1997.

By June, Beltran said, 3,000 more workers will be kicked out of their jobs due to massive retrenchments and factory shutdowns.

Santiago blamed the massive layoffs on the Ramos administration's deregulation and liberalization policies.

He said many firms were now imposing wage freeze and longer working shifts to cut down on labor cost.

After a three-hour program at Liwasang Bonifacio, the rallyists, most ofthem wearing red shirts and buri hats, marched to the Don Chino Roces (formerly Mendiola) bridge leading to MalacaƱang, where they lighted torches and militant workers' hymns.


FROM North to South, workers marked the Labor Day yesterday with calls to end the contractualization of labor which prevent most of them from becoming regular employees.

Labor groups in Baguio City, led by the multi-sectoral Cordillera People's Alliance (CPA), hit the cheapening of labor, especially in the mining firms in Northern Luzon.

In their march on the Session Road to the People's Park in the city, the CPA complained about the labor contractualization scheme being used by the mining industry as a means to cut down operating costs.

At the same time, the urban poor, led by Matthew Guiniden also riled against the dwindling quality of social services being provided by the government and the lack of improvement in the employment opportunities in the region.

Pasil Junio, leader of the Progressive Miners Union of Philex, said that the company has been taking subcontractors who hire on contractual basis the same workers retrenched by Philex.

He alleged that the firm lied when it claims that it is experiencing losses and had to retrench. Philex and Benguet Corp. are the two biggest mining firms dating back to the American era. ...

In Bacolod City, 10,000 members of KMU and other allied groups marched through the city's streets and staged a rally at the public plaza calling on the people to join them in national democratic struggle with a socialist perspective.

They denounced the government's continued sellout of workers' interest through its privatization, deregulation and import-liberalization policies which they blamed for the mass retrenchment and the growing contractualization.

They also pressed for P100 across-the-board increase. They said that a family of five needs a minimum of P420 to survive.

In Davao City, some 4,000 workers, including 60 child workers belonging to KMU assembled at the Magsaysay park and proceded to the nearby Rizal Park where they pressed for the granting of a P100 salary increase for government and private employees.#

Excerpted from PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER April 30, 1997


MILITANT labor groups are mobilizing forces for Labor Day protest rallies to dramatize the hardships being experienced by workers amid the financial crisis sweeping Asia.

The workers groups said the crisis has rendered 47,000 Filipinos jobless, making the coming observance of May 1 the saddest ever.

Among the organizations gearing for big rallies are 85 Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), Koalisyon ng Progresibo at Makabayang Manggagawa (KPMM), and Confederation for the Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE).

In a press briefing, the KMU said its members would observe Labor Day with a heavy heart.

It cited figures from the Department of labor and Employment showing that 1,072 firms had been closed down since January, with more than 40,000 workers added to the unemployed sector.

Another 3,000 are expected to get laid off by June, the KMU said in a statement. Unreported, however, are the thousands more in small and medium-scale, family-owned, underground businesses who are now part of the growing horde of unemployed roaming the streets for whatever livelihoods that can be scavenged.

Aside from the hemorrhage of jobs, the KMU said workers were also heavily burdened by depressed wages and the rampant practice of contractual labor and other labor flexibility schemes.

Around 50,000 people are expected to converge at the Liwasang Bonifacio for the KMU rally schedule in the afternoon of May 1.