|Labor Day in the Philippines|
|P-Noy: Walang umento sa sahod
Araw ng Manggagawa or Labor Day is a non-working holiday celebrated on May 1 of every year in the Philippines. This day is workers all over the country; however, this day is also often marked by demonstrations and rallies as the labor sector airs its grievances.
In 1884 in the United States of America, the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions demanded an eight-hour workday in the United States, effective May 1, 1886. This demand resulted in a general strike and the U.S. Haymarket Riot of 1886, but the eight-hour workday was eventually approved officially. Afterwards, Labor Day came to be celebrated on the first of May in commemoration of this event.<ref name="test1">May Day. Featured article on Librarylink.org, written May 20, 2005 (accessed December 8, 2007).</ref>
History in the Philippines
Labor Day in the Philippines was first celebrated in 1903, when the Philippines was still under U.S. rule. That year, more than a hundred thousand workers organized by the Union Obrero Democratica de Filipinas (UODF) marched to Malacañang on the first of May to demand better working conditions. The American colonial government was alarmed. The Philippine Constabulary, composed of Americans and Filipinos, raided the printing press of UODF and arrested its president, Dominador Gomez, for illegal assembly and sedition.<ref name="test2">100 significant dates in Philippine history. Article from the Manila Times, written September 20, 2006 (accessed December 8, 2007).</ref>
Ten years later, on May 1, 1913, Congreso Obrero de Filipinas was organized. Led by Herminigildo Cruz, it fought for an eight-hour working day, abolition of child labor, just labor standards for women, and liability of capitalists.<ref name="test3">The Philippine Labor Movement--1850-1900 The Spanish Era: Seeds of a Movement. Timeline on the labor movement in the Philippines (accessed December 8, 2007).</ref>
Since then, Labor Day in the Philippines has been commemorated not only with parades and celebrations, but also with rallies and demonstrations of the labor sector.
On May 1, 2001, “EDSA III” or “People Power 3” took place; it differed from EDSA One and EDSA Dos in that the main participants were the masa—the supporters of impeached president Joseph Estrada-- against newly installed president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. It started as a demonstration that became a political revolt and degenerated into a riot that left in its wake torched vehicles and garbage along portions of EDSA and Mendiola.<ref name="test4">Civil Society in Southeast Asia. Book by Hock Guan Lee, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies accessed December 8, 2007).</ref>
2009 Labor Day
In 2009, the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-National Capital Region (Bayan-NCR), Kilusang Mayo Uno-National Capital Region (KMU-NCR), Anakpawis Partylist and other militant organizations commemorated Labor Day by protesting against the Arroyo administration for its continued negligence in providing relief to the condition of the people. Malacañang also announced that there would be no pay-hike for Filipino workers that Labor Day.
The groups also staged a motorcade from Alabang Public Market to the intersection of Quirino and Taft Avenue in Manila to demand a P125 across-the-board wage hike. Before joining thousands of protesters at the Liwasang Bonifacio and US Embassy, Bayan-NCR and MU-NCR marched at the Manila Police District Headquarters at the United Natiions Avenue to show support for NBN-ZTE witness Engineer Jun Lozada.
50 delegates from 16 countries joined the Labor Day protest as part of the 25th International Solidarity Affair.
2010 Labor Day
The DOLE-Kabuhayan Awards will mark the Philippine's 108th Labor Day celebration. This award is given to outstanding individuals and workers groups with the aim of recognizing and showcasing the best of the said projects with the aim of recognizing and showcasing the best of the said projects implemented within the last five years for priority groups of beneficiaries.
The DOLE Kabuhayan Awards will be judged according to the following criteria: socio-economic viability, 10%; sustainable market, 30%; financial viability, 30%; sustainable production/efficient use of resources, 15%, and effective organization and management, 15%.
The six categories for the awards are: Sikap Kabuhayan Award for outstanding individual worktrepreneurs who demonstrate entrepreneurial characteristics and serve as role models for emerging entrepreneurs; Dagdag Kabuhayan Award for outstanding union or group enterprises that demonstrate potential for significant growth and the ability to achieve profitability to augment workers’ income; Kabalikat Kabuhayan Award for outstanding women’s group projects that demonstrate women power in business; Kanayunang Kabuhayan Award for outstanding agricultural workers’ group projects that contribute to the economic strength of the community; Isla Kabuhayan Award for outstanding fishermen’s group projects that contribute to the economic strength of the coastal community; and Kabataang Kabuhayan Award for outstanding group projects that contribute to the economic strength of the community.
The awarding ceremony for the national level will be held on 1 May 2010 at the SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia, Pasay City.
Meanwhile, militant labor organizations led by the reinstated workers of Goldilocks and Arco Metal converged in Mendiola, Manila to slam traditional and anti-labor politicians running in the 2010 elections. According to Leody de Guzman, president of the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), “even if they have seemingly flowery platforms, they won't reject the system of capitalism as the root cause of growing poverty."
2011 Labor Day
The 2011 Labor Day celebration also marked the 30th anniversary of the Laborem Exercens, a decree by Pope John Paul II supporting labor rights and the labor movement. A mass led by bishop Broderick Pabillo of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines was held during the rally of several labor organizations in Mendiola, Manila.
In his homily, Pabillo slammed labor policies deemed to be unfair, like contractualization of labor, low wages, and inhumane working conditions, as well as globalization which allowed labor flexibilization. "Labor is more important than capital," Pabillo said, saying the Jesus Christ was also a worker in his youth and has fought for the rights of workers during his time.
2012 Labor Day
In a historic move, more than 40 labor federations formed a coalition called Nagkaisa to urge the government to increase the minimum wage, end labor contractualization, and regulate the prices of fuel, electricity, and water. Included in the coalition are the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, Partido ng Manggagawa, BMP, Alliance of Progressive Labor, Federation of Free Workers, Philippine Airlines Employees Association, and several other unions and federations nationwide.
However, in a breakfast meeting with Nagkaisa leaders, president Benigno Simeon Aquino III rejected the proposal for an across-the-board wage increase since it will result in the loss of profit of companies, which will lead to layoffs and soaring prices of commodities. He also said that the Department of Labor and Employment, through Department Order 18, will guarantee regular workers' benefits and security of tenure for contractual workers. Two cabinet secretaries, Florencio Abad of the Department of Budget and Management, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, and political adviser Ronald Llamas faced the rallying workers in Mendiola to receive the written demands of Nagkaisa.
Despite the dialogue with Malacanang, militant members of Nagkaisa expressed their disappointment over Aquino's apparent bias in favor of capitalists.
2015 Labor Day
President Benigno Simeon Aquino III traveled to Cebu to attend Jobstart Philippines Forum, sponsored by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and its partners before proceeding to the University of Cebu Medical Center to inspect a new facility. He also went to Naga City to attend the inauguration of a plant by multinational cement firm CEMEX.
Labor Day protests followed Aquino even right outside the job fair. Different labor groups joined forces in a protest rally denouncing what they call the President's disregard of the workforce. In an interview, Dennis Derige of the Partido ng Manggagawa Cebu, said that they are calling for justice for all workers who experience job contractualization and those who are not given decent working conditions. The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) and the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) were part of the rally.
In Manila, labor groups under the Nagkaisa coalition marched from Welcome Rotonda to Mendiola. Their protests lasted into the evening. About 1,500 people joined the rally which was described as “generally peaceful” by an officer of the Manila Police District.
The TUCP called for the government to adopt its proposals on unemployment insurance and security of tenure, among other issues. They have recently canceled their annual luncheon with the President citing his inaction on the said labor concerns since being in the position in 2011.
In March, DOLE announced a new round of increases in the minimum wage in the National Capital Region (NCR). However, TUCP's spokesperson Alan Tanjusay, criticized the Php 15 increase as they call for a Php 136 accross-the-board increase. Tanjusay added that Aquino did not take any action on their demand for a reduction in power rates. They asked Aquino to grant a Php 2,000 discount card and unemployment insurance for three million minimum wage earners nationwide as as gift to workers. They also asked Aquino for a return of the government subsidy for MRT and LRT users as there was an increase in the transport fare.
Aquino's Labor Day message for 2015 said in part, “Pangunahin sa adhikaing ito ang siguruhing ligtas at may kakayahan ang ating kababayan na magtagumpay sa buhay. Saanmang sulok ng mundo sila naroroon, sinisikap tugunan ng pamahalaan ang kanilang mga pangangailangan, lalo na sa larangan ng edukasyon, pagsasanay at agarang ayuda.” (Forermost in our aspirations is to ensure the safety and capability of our countrymen to succeed in life. Wherever they are in the world, the government aims to fulfill their needs, especially in education, skills training and prompt assistance.)
Activist Satur Ocampo said that workers demand the abolition of the labor export policy where the economy depends to the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) while neglecting the development of Philippine agriculture. He said that they are also against labor contractualization which prevents recruited workers from joining trade unions.
DOLE said that the Aquino government has done much to improve the lives of workers. According to Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, among the benefits given to workers are the additional Php 10,00 tax exemption and pay leave for women and children victims of violence.
US firms to invest or expand their business interests in PH
Several US firms have expressed their interest to either invest or expand their business interests in the Philippines in a roundtable discussion with Aquino at the TransUnion building organized by the US-ASEAN Business Council on May 6.
Thomas La France, senior executive of GE Transportation expressed interest in participating in the infrastructure development efforts of the Philippines. Julie Hoeniges of Caterpillar Inc. said that they want to expand its involvement in the country, especially in the mining sector. Michael Fernandes of Cargill said that they plan to increase their investments in the agribusiness sector.
- DOLE to confer Kabuhayan Awards on Labor Day Dole.gov.ph (Accessed 27 April 2010)
- Labor Day 2009 Philippines Demotix.com (Accessed 27 April 2010)
- A.M. Monzon, Elizabeth Escaño, and Jauhn Etienne Villaruel.“Protests, presidential tour, Veloso case mark Labor Day 2015”.Business World Online.(Accessed 8 May 2015)
- Jaymalin, Mayen.“Workers gear up for Labor Day protest”.The Philippine Star.(Accessed 8 May 2015)
- “US firms express interest in PH investments”.Rappler.(Accessed 8 May 2015)